LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Buffets are a big part of the Las Vegas experience, but the pandemic has changed the way the food is served. Right now buffets are operating cafeteria-style over self-serve, meaning someone else piles the food on your plate.
At Buffet at Asia on Sahara Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, customers line up for the busy lunch rush. Many are just happy to get their buffet fix.
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“'We had nowhere to go, we appreciate you guys opening,'" said assistant manager Peggy Manotto explaining the type of comments she's received from customers.
"We’re trying,” she added, explaining that customers tell staff what they want and their plates are loaded for them.
"Of course masks have to be on all the way,” Manotto said.
The wait staff all have face shields and there are signs urging customers to wear face masks. Plexiglass separates guests from the piping hot food.
Las Vegas Strip expert Anthony Curtis says buffets and Las Vegas go hand in hand, whether it's local places like Buffet at Asia or those in casinos.
“It goes in part in parcel of Vegas excess," said Curtis. "You come to Vegas to go crazy and you do that everywhere. You party, you gamble, and you eat a lot."
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Eater Las Vegas editor Susan Stapleton says casino-resorts have been more cautious about reopening buffets having to follow more regulations than restaurants.
She believes as long as there are health restrictions, cafeteria-style buffets will continue. But Stapleton feels eventually buffets in Vegas will go back to normal.
“People really like the idea of serving themselves,” she said.
Manotto says the new set-up has allowed them to reduce food waste, but she wouldn’t hesitate to allow guests to serve themselves once health restrictions are lifted.
“Hopefully yeah, take off the mask, and take whatever you want and serve yourself,” she said.
Currently, the only buffet open at a casino-resort in the valley is at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa.