If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has changed, it’s the way we deal with people. Or, at the very least, the way people view bacteria and germs in society. In my state of New Jersey, we’ve been under quarantine for about a month and a half—give or take.
Within that month, I noticed that people have started to look extra hard at people. While there’s empathy towards everyone in many circles, there’s also a newfound distrust of people. It’s hard, and it makes you think twice about how others take care of themselves.
There’s a little paranoia involved, too. Everywhere you go, you end up wondering, “Did this person have contact with a COVID case? Do they actually care, or are they just putting on a mask because they are worried about getting a ticket?”
In my experience, it’s hard to make people go back to a certain mentality after something like this. Now, more than ever, cleanliness is becoming a must-have in restaurants, too. A la carte restaurants are already sweating the new stress, but when it comes to buffets? It’s a whole new story.
Buffets have always been a place where people were okay with sacrificing the quality of their food in exchange for more servings. That alone could be survivable. This restaurant style also made no qualms about having dubious sanitation methods, which is where I start to wonder.
We’ve all heard of all-you-can-eat buffets where people sneaked on food, grabbed it with their bare hands, or just coughed on it. Is a business model that’s notorious for having gross encounters capable of surviving COVID-19?
Honestly, I don’t know.
Between the budget cuts many restaurants are going to have to do in order to stay afloat and the increased concern about sanitation post-coronavirus, we should expect to see the buffet model decrease in popularity with most demographics. After all, people don’t want to deal with restaurants that might potentially increase their risk of getting sick.
I want to say that it’ll take a while before people get comfortable with the idea of eating in close quarters, especially when the food is laid out in front of everyone so that they can pick and choose what they want to eat. Almost everyone I know has met someone who is down dead as a result of the coronavirus. That makes eating at a buffet all the more unappetizing.
That being said, there is a glimmer of hope. I have a feeling that buffets will survive as long as they get people to order what they want rather than grab it. Or, maybe I’m wrong about peoples’ memories. Considering that there are people who are already protesting to see America open up again, there might just be a saving grace for buffets anyway.