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Golden Corral is out to prove that COVID didn’t kill buffets

The nation’s largest buffet chain evolved its business to survive the pandemic, but isn’t about to give up on its core service model


In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — especially when it was believed that the coronavirus primarily spread through surface transmission — many restaurant pundits declared that the buffet model was kaput forever.  

Golden Corral president and CEO Lance Trenary recalls that some were calling his chain a zombie — dead but it didn’t realize it yet.

But that was news to Trenary and his team at the nearly 50-year-old chain based in Raleigh, N.C. While the early stages of the pandemic were brutal to Golden Corral, the brand adjusted its business just like everyone else to incorporate more digital tools and off-premises service. And today, it’s getting ready to launch two new smaller-footprint store models will open a door for new growth opportunities.  

Trenary joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to share how Golden Corral has defied those critics who left it for dead, how the brand is modernizing its model, and how it’s diversifying its service channels to meet the customers where they are at.

In this conversation, you’ll find out why:

  • You shouldn’t take your critics seriously but use their criticism as fuel
  • Focus your energy on problems you can control
  • COVID exposed the “soft underbelly” of your business, and that’s where you should continue to drive innovation
  • New business models are an opportunity for both new markets and new operating partners
  • The value equation is more important than ever as inflation rages
  • Your comeback can be better than your setback

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].

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