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Golden Corral smoked pork Photos courtesy of Golden Corral
Smoked pork

Golden Corral rolls out smokers

Buffet chain looks to capitalize on barbecue trend

Golden Corral has completed the rollout of smokers to its 485 restaurants, the company said Monday, when it also introduced a new line of barbecue items at the buffet chain, based in Raleigh, N.C.

“We did some testing of the smokers this period of time last year … and decided, hey, we’re going to want to move forward on this,” said Robin Lowe, Golden Corral’s, vice president of quality assurance.

The chain started rolling out the smokers in February.

Smoked brisket

Lowe said that there was room under the existing hoods in the restaurant kitchens to install the smokers, so while adding them was “certainly not inexpensive,” finding space wasn’t an issue.

More than 400 of Golden Corral’s restaurants are franchised.

New items include the following:

Smoked Pork Barbecue: Pork smoked over hickory for 10 hours, then pulled and chopped

Smoked Chicken: Whole chicken rubbed with barbecue seasoning and then smoked

Smoked chicken

Smoked Carved Baby Back Ribs: Pork ribs rubbed with Golden Corral’s Classic Smokehouse Seasoning and smoked for three hours, available at dinner only

Smoked Carved Brisket: Sliced brisket seasoned with Classic Smokehouse Seasoning and smoked for 10 hours

Smoked Turkey: Sliced turkey rubbed with barbecue seasoning and smoked.

The chain also is offering a variety of regional barbecue sauces as well as more general sweet, spicy and smoky varieties.

Smoked ribs

In a press release announcing the new menu items, Golden Corral said it was introducing them to “capitalize on the increased popularity of smoked meats and bold flavors.”

“Golden Corral constantly strives to give our guests the most flavorful items possible,” president and CEO Lance Trenary said in the release.

“The addition of our new Smokehouse menu provides our guests with a wide selection of smoked meats and authentic flavors that will enhance their dining experience. These items will be prepared on-site in real wood smokers using Golden Corral’s signature rub to maximize quality and flavor.”

The smoked meats are now part of the chain’s regular buffet, which is priced at $8.99 at lunch, $11.99 at dinner Monday to Thursday and $13.99 at dinner on weekends.

Smoked turkey

According to NRN’s Top 100 census, Golden Corral’s sales fell 2.6 percent in the year ended Dec. 2016 to $1.7 billion.

Many family-dining chains struggled during that period, with sales at IHOP, Perkins, Bob Evans, Sizzler, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Shari’s Café & Pies, Village Inn, Huddle House and Friendly’s all declining; however, although some chains, including Denny’s, Waffle House and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, saw gains in the low single digits.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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