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In a bit of an open secret, The Wynn Buffet will reopen it’s doors to the public this week after testing its new, reimagined concept with employees. You will still be able to choose from over 90 amazing options, but rather than serving yourself, you will receive unlimited tableside service for up-to 2-hours.
This is likely the future of buffets in Vegas and is likely the first of many to reopen soon in this new, reimagined concept. And honestly, it makes sense. No longer will the food be sitting in the open, rather it’s ready and plated and a waiter brings it to you.
There are a few downsides and it will be interesting to see how the Wynn and others handle them. The big benefit of the buffet was that you never had to wait for your food and your dining experience was on your time. It will be interesting if there are assigned waiters to each table, section, or just food runners who.
According to @twiggybouce who was a guest of a Wynn employee during their test run, food came very quickly and since it was all pre-made and pre-plated.
That sounds promising, but how will you notify the staff that you want more? Will you have a dedicated server or a group of servers? Here’s what @twiggybounce told us.
One of the obvious benefits for The Wynn will be waste savings. The need to be served will obviously set the pace for how fast you can eat and customers might not ask for as much. In addition, without seeing the food, they may not try dishes they are not familar with that looked good when they were walking by.
This could reduce the allure of the buffet, as it is an expensive option. That said, it could introduce the concept to a new group of customers who wanted the variety, but were grossed out with everyone in the buffet hovering over their food.
Most importantly, this will bring the buffet experience to meet COVID-19 standards for heath and safety. The experience will include social distancing, touchless tech, and QR downloadable & single use menus.
The question has to be raised, how is this different from a traditional restaurant? The way this is handled will determine rather the integrity and allure of the buffet continues or if it just becomes another high-priced small plates restaurant.
There will be some differences that could help it maintain and improve the buffet experience. Since all the food is pre-made and pre-plated, serving times should remain very high, rivaling if not exceeding getting up, walking to the buffet, finding the right section, etc.
The key will be the number of servers and how attentive they can be. This does bring variation into the process (one of the key pluses from the old way, you always knew what you were going to get).
A very small indication of how this might work will be the all-you-can-drink beverages that many of these establishments already had. In my limited experience (getting the bottomless drinks at Wicked Spoon), my drinks were kept full and I never felt like I was waiting.
At the high-end places (and at the beginning) this likely won’t be a problem, but money will always talk and this is a much more expensive concept to get right.
It will be a very interesting case-study for the buffet concept that is ingrained in Vegas lore. No longer do you get AYCE prime rib for $5, but this still lets you try all the dishes you want.
Here’s all the details from The Wynn on the re-opening:
The Buffet returns on June 18th, bringing the flavors of the world right to your table. Savor all of the delicious dishes you’ve come to expect from The Buffet, now with tableside service. Choose from over 90 delectable choices – from slow roasted prime rib, crab legs and sushi to desserts galore. This is the all-you-can-eat experience of your dreams.
The Buffet is offering brunch Monday-Thursday from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and dinner from 3:30 pm to 9:00 pm. A Gourmet brunch is featured on Friday from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Gourmet dinner is offered on Friday and Saturday from 3:30 pm to 9:30 pm and on Sunday from 3:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Weekday brunch and dinner are $36.99 and $59.99. Weekend brunch & dinner are $48.99 and $65.99.
The attire at The Buffet is resort casual; tank tops and swimwear are not permitted. Reservations are available online here.