How Midlands buffet-style restaurants are surviving during the pandemic

How Midlands buffet-style restaurants are surviving during the pandemic

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As restaurants around the state are shifting from take-out to limited indoor capacity, many of you have asked..."what’s going to happen to buffets?"

Little Pigs BBQ Buffet on Alpine Road in Columbia has been serving up plates for 60 years, and a pandemic hasn't stopped them.

"We never closed down," said Little Pigs owner, Champ McGee. "We've tried to be fluid as much as we can, and change with the times and do what we have to do, but we're going to be here. We're doing about 40 percent of the volume we used to do. Typically on a Saturday, we'd have between 800 and 1000 people coming through the buffet. Now, we're feeding between 100 and 120 inside, so it's been a major decrease, but it's getting better."

McGee says he had to cut his catering staff, and transition to take-out when indoor dining restrictions were implemented across the state back in March.

Now that the mandate has been lifted, they're once again allowing customers to enjoy food inside with several new changes in place to keep things safe.

"We wear masks, we wear gloves, we sanitize every hour, on the hour. We have a special sanitizer we're using for the tables," McGee said. "We can not allow people to serve themselves, it's all got to be served by the staff, so we've kind of switched over to a cafeteria style serving in the intermediate time. We serve the plate, take it to the table, and the waitress gives them their drinks and their silverware."

McGee says if, and when, the day comes that they can return to an all you can eat, self-serve setting, Little Pigs BBQ will be ready.

"We're going to change over to cafeteria style and be that way for the rest of our life if we have to, but we'd love to have the buffet back."

The owner says that he hopes to bring back his full staff as business creeps back to normal.

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