Why Old Country Buffet and Hometown Buffet Have Permanently Closed Most Locations

Joel Eisenberg

Fresh Acquisitions LLC and 14 affiliated companies, who owned Old Country Buffet and Hometown Buffet, filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2021. Though they were optimistic during the process, the debts proved untenable.

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Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Today.com, Biz Journals.com, RestaurantClicks.com, MarketRealist.com, and RestaurantBusinessOnline.com.

Introduction

Earlier this year, NewsBreak published two articles of mine about the nation’s shrinking buffet chain business. See here for “Buffet Restaurants Scheduled to Close in 2022,” and here for “Plans to Permanently Close All You Can Eat Buffets.”

In the latter article, I excerpted a pertinent section from an April, 2021 Today.com report, “Are Buffets a Thing of the Past? Reimagining ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ in a Post-Covid World,” by Ronnie Koenig: Shared spoons, salad bar sneeze guards and standing in line next to other hungry customers in order to pile your plate high seems in direct opposition to the safety measures we've all adopted surrounding food service. On Wednesday, Fresh Acquisitions, the parent company that owns Old Country Buffet, filed for bankruptcy, illustrating just how difficult it has been for restaurants whose concept centers around a communal dining experience.

The buffet chain industry has changed substantially, even since that time.

Fresh Acquisitions expressed optimism for the continuation of not only Old Country Buffet, but also Hometown Buffet and other restaurants under its umbrella.

BizJournals.com posted a related piece in April, 2021, titled “Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, HomeTown Buffet Owners Declare Bankruptcy; Close Most Locations.”

From the article, which also addressed the pre-filing optimism: The reformed management company was initially optimistic that it would see long-term growth with a new strategy despite the challenges that forced many of its restaurants to close last year.

And many still, of both buffets restaurants, closed in the ensuing time period to today.

Let us explore further.

Status Update: Buffet Restaurant Chains

In March, 2022, trade site RestaurantClicks.com published “The Truth Behind Rumors of Old Country Buffet Closing,” which stated: With only 17 Old Country Buffet restaurants open in the United States in 2022, most likely, the restaurant won’t be around forever… The truth is that most of their storefronts have closed, and the ones that are still standing are not the most hopeful. The corporation has filed for bankruptcy three times since 2006 and with a global pandemic keeping eaters at home more often than before, things aren’t looking good for the chain.

The same can be said for Hometown Buffet.

According to an April, 2022 article on MarketRealist.com, “The Hometown Buffet Chain Closed For Good During the Pandemic,” two prior bankruptcies did not help the issue: According to Restaurant Business, the COVID-19 crisis has hit buffet brands hard. The parent company of Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation has gone into liquidation, and the two largest Golden Corral franchisees pursued debt protection. The pandemic was also the death knell, it seems, for HomeTown Buffet and other chains under the Fresh Acquisitions umbrella. HomeTown’s parent company once had 650 locations—but then came the bankruptcies.

The buffets, to date, will remain closed per the new owners of the companies’ intellectual property.

The article goes on to state: In Oct. 2021, BBQ Holdings—the parent company of the barbecue restaurant chain Famous Dave’s—won a bankruptcy auction for Fresh Acquisitions LLC, agreeing to pay $5.2 million in the deal. That deal meant BBQ Holdings was the new owner of the remaining Tahoe Joe’s locations and the intellectual property for HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, and the other buffet chains. But BBQ Holdings CEO Jeff Crivello said a day after the auction that the buffet restaurants would stay closed. “We have no immediate plans to reopen any of the buffet brands,” he said, reports Restaurant Business.

And that quickly, businesses permanently fall.

Conclusion

While buffets such as those in Las Vegas have largely reopened to big crowds, chain buffets such as Hometown Buffet and Old Country Buffet seem to now be largely remnants of the past.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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