Not everyone enjoys a buffet. Sometimes the food isn't as warm or fresh as it should be. Some think a buffet has much too much food, catering mainly to gluttons. And even before the pandemic, some people worried about the health and safety of buffets. Others love buffets, the opportunity to try a wide assortment of dishes, to enjoy lots of food for a relatively inexpensive price.
Not all buffets are the same. Some put out smaller trays of food, so it doesn't sit there too long as it might in a larger tray, thus staying fresher. Some provide more quality foods than others, giving a better value. Some allow you to try new dishes that you might not normally select off a menu.
The usual buffet though will probably never return. One sneeze could potentially contaminate a buffet. Even with sneeze guards and such, there's plenty of open space where diseases could spread. Even when the pandemic ends, when most people are vaccinated, public fears may prevent the usual buffets from reopening.
There is some hope though, albeit a variation on the usual buffet.
An alternative to the traditional buffet exists, an All-You-Can-Eat option which can be found at least a few restaurants, like Maki Maki in Woburn. Although Maki Maki has chosen not to reopen yet for indoor dining yet, before the pandemic they offered a more unique All-You-Can-Eat option. You ordered off a menu, selecting some items to eat, and they were brought to your table, fresh and hot (if they were supposed to be hot). You could keep ordering off that menu for as long as you wanted, just like you were dining at a buffet.
This type of system prevents the health and safety concerns of the usual buffet. You don't have to worry about other customers possibly infecting the food. This option also avoids some of the other issues with a normal buffet, such as the freshness of the dishes. You get your dishes straight from the kitchen, fresh and hot. This type of system could be instituted by other restaurants which once offered a usual buffet. Changes within the kitchen would need to be done, but if the restaurant still wanted to offer an All-You-Can-Eat option, it would be doable.
What are your thoughts on buffets and their future?