Get ready to strap on the feed bag; Golden Corral Buffet & Grill will ride again.
A local franchisee plans a mid-October reopening for Golden Corral, northeast of Powers and Palmer Park boulevards on Colorado Springs’ east side. An exact date hasn’t yet been determined.
The buffet-style restaurant that specializes in fried chicken, pot roast, mashed potatoes and other comfort food fare has been a favorite of local residents, some of whom have wondered whether it would ever reopen since its closing around November 2020, several months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Franchisee Great Western Restaurants, based in Colorado Springs, has been reopening its half-dozen Golden Corrals one at a time over several months, said Howard Walters, the company’s operations director. The methodical reopening has allowed Great Western to ensure its restaurant management teams were back in place and able to operate the locations, he said.
Great Western owns Golden Corrals in Pueblo, Thornton, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota. Its Colorado Springs location will be the last of the six to reopen, Walters said.
“We unfortunately didn’t have enough resources to open them all at the same time,” he said.
Great Western also wanted to be sure it could overcome supply chain issues and provide the wide variety of food offerings found at Golden Corral, Walters said.
“In a regular restaurant, you go to a menu, there’s a certain number of things,” he said. “And then you look at the number of items that we put out every day on our buffet, and they all have to be ready at all times. So we had to wait for (the) supply chain to come back and become reliable.”
At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Gov. Jared Polis ordered restaurants to temporarily close their dining rooms. Golden Corral complied, but continued to offer takeout service, which always has been available at the restaurant, Walters said.
But Golden Corral is thought of mainly as a sit-down restaurant, and takeout service as its only option didn’t do well financially, he said. As a result, Golden Corral closed later in 2020.
“We thought we might be able to sell more, but it just wasn’t a financially feasible thing,” Walters said. “People didn’t think about Golden Corral for to-go foods and picking things up. … They think about us for maybe a catering, if you’re doing a catering. But if you’re just wanting to grab something on the way home, we weren’t high on the list.”
When the restaurant reopens, Golden Corral customers will find little has changed, Walters said.
The buffet’s food bars will be in place and fully stocked with the same familiar comfort-food items, along with seasonal offerings such as chicken wings to coincide with fall football, he said. The restaurant also will resume features such as free meals for veterans and active duty military personnel on the Monday after Veteran’s Day.
Some upgrades have been made inside the restaurant, including new carpeting and chairs, Walters said.
As part of COVID-related safeguards, customers also will find more space between dining room tables, while sanitation efforts and other safety measures will continue to be in place, Walters said.
One thing has changed at Golden Corral: Prices for the all-you-can-eat meals are going up a bit, he said.
“The cost of the buffet, at our opening price, compared to what it was two years ago, yes it will be slightly more expensive,” Walters said. “But we were very careful about making sure we didn’t price our core customers out of the building.
“Everything, labor costs and everything, have gone up,” he added. “But we don’t want that to be a negative. That’s just part of the way it is being in the restaurant business in the United States. So, it will be a little bit more expensive, but basically about the same.”