Dirt Nap City

What Was All You Can Eat? A Dirt Nap City Dead End

March 21, 2024 Dirt Nap City Season 3 Episode 45
Dirt Nap City
What Was All You Can Eat? A Dirt Nap City Dead End
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Show Notes Transcript

If you are over 40 years old, you probably remember going to the "All You Can Eat Buffet" with your family or friends. It was an amazing display of food and it was all for one low price! But this style of low cost gluttony has fallen out of favor in recent years - both because the food was generally not healthy and the business model was unattainable for many restaurants. In this episode, Alex takes us through some of his favorite "All You Care To Eat" places from his days as a poor college student. When he and his friends would hit the Wendy's Super Bar to fill up for less than a dollar each!
If you have ever eaten at a buffet, you'll want to hear some of the secrets that these establishments use to get you to eat less. And if you have never had the pleasure of gorging yourself at a buffet, you should listen to find out what you have been missing.

Dirt Nap City Dead Ends are short stories about the traditions, sayings, technologies, and businesses that used to be popular but now reside in Dirt Nap City.  If you have an idea for a Dirt Nap City Dead End story, drop us a line at our email address: not@dirtnapcity.com

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Kelly:

What's up, Alex?

Alex:

Wanna do a dead end?

Kelly:

Oh man, I love dead ends, but remind me what it is.

Alex:

So in dead ends we talked about other not people but but other things that have passed that we might remember things that we might not have ever been around for but things that don't

Kelly:

Or maybe they still do exist but they're like losing steam. You know, like CD ROMs

Alex:

Sure. So in the same vein of dirt nap city, these are things that you might find in dirt nap

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah. No, I'd love to do one of those. Yeah, the people

Alex:

that are in or nap city still have access to all these things.

Kelly:

Oh, man, that makes me want to go there. Kinda, Nick, I'll ever get there.

Alex:

I think you will in due time. Don't Don't rush it, man. Things are fine here. You

Kelly:

said if I go, you'll do an episode about me. So that sounds exciting.

Alex:

It's the first episode but then yeah, no, but don't don't go yet. All right.

Kelly:

Well, what do you got? Well, I

Alex:

got a silly one today. But but I'm passionate about this, because I remember this utilizing this as a college kid. But then I also kind of think about this as in the context of a

Kelly:

Was this. Was this something you? You actually personally used? All the time in college?

Alex:

No, you don't. I don't think we ever did this together.

Kelly:

Was a parachute pants. No. I know you had a couple of pairs of those. You

Alex:

know, I didn't have as many parachute pants as you might have thought, but I probably had more

Kelly:

I had zero. So if you had any. Even if you had parachutes shorts, you had more than me.

Alex:

I did not have perished. I've never even heard of parachute shorts. But we'll save that for

Kelly:

well, so this is something that you are feeling passionate about. It's something that you day? It

Alex:

could have just not when we I don't recall us doing this together? Was it an activity? always college? And so you never had to resort to things like this?

Kelly:

Was it Robin? No.

Alex:

It was the windy super bar. Oh,

Kelly:

wow. Do

Alex:

you remember sir? Do you remember the windy super bar? Honestly,

Kelly:

you know, I had so much money. I was just eating to Jeffrey's all the time.

Alex:

Did the Wendy's first of all let's let's harken back to the late 80s. And you remember what Stellarium kind of that? Yeah. Stellarium layout or there was like a greenhouse kind of thing.

Kelly:

I've been to a few Wendy's recently that still have that act? Really? Really? Yeah, like Wendy's is one of our road trip stops because I do love a frosty and coffee together. You get a you bit of the frosty and then you pour a little bit of the coffee in my hand is good. But

Alex:

Wendy's in 1988 was way better. Because Wendy's and 90 Ada had this super bar. And when I for 299 299 which you know, it sounds cheap. But even today's money, that's $7.69 today. Still it as eating all the Italian Mexican and salad you can eat?

Kelly:

I honestly don't remember this at all. Like so it wasn't you're talking about Wendy's the their Mexican and Italian food.

Alex:

So what they'd have was, I mean, that was their pitch. You'd go into this Wendy's and they rotini fettuccine. They had sauce with with or without meat. They had burritos that you could it you could load that all up. And then they had a full salad bar. They had fruit. Some had a potato pizza buffet.

Kelly:

Was there a Wendy's on MLK? Yeah. In Austin. Yes. Is that where is that where you went?

Alex:

I think it's where Keynes is now. Oh, okay.

Kelly:

Yeah, I remember that being there. And I remember turning my nose up and thinking that's

Alex:

and you're right. Because not only would we go for 299, but we would bring like 678 people and eat off. We wouldn't let the 299 like six ways, and that's why they don't have this anymore. So threw you out and the people working there didn't care.

Kelly:

There was also a Gary's over there on on MLK like it right at Guadalupe and MLK, there was buffet once again, more of a poor kid thing than I did that I then I would go to

Alex:

have the burger Roni at Gary's. But no, this. This was a deal. And I can't believe you never went like you say but they, they would always have like, at the end of the, at the end of chocolate pudding. And the chocolate pudding would always have like a little bit of cheese on top or know, yeah, sprayed on there. Or some maybe some beans that I love that good chocolate pudding. But fire from all the other foods that they

Kelly:

had. What's the worst thing you ever found in a salad bar?

Alex:

Found? You mean?

Kelly:

Well, I'm gonna tell you one time I made a big salad. I think this was at Wendy's perhaps lettuce and you know, got my bacon bits and my olives and my little those little crispy noodle of blue cheese on there, maybe a couple of tomatoes to make it healthy. And I take a big dropped gum into the salad.

Alex:

That might have been me.

Kelly:

Good Lord, that was gross. Hence hence why I never went back to the Wendy's super bar. Well,

Alex:

you know, you're you're you're kind of veering into the reason that that Wendy's doesn't clean. When you got these college kids and high school kids like like us that are going there and hard to have the, you know, one to two employees there. Keep keep that thing clean. It was actually in the sauce was just the hamburger meat that they you know, like leftover hamburger meat. The tacos, hamburgers. So they could throw meat in the sauce meat in the tacos. The breadsticks were just bonds into breadsticks. And croutons. But you know, with people like my crew come in and spending you know, restaurant. And then having a hard to to keep clean. They did away with that. But you know, did a little research into this. It lasted until 1998. I was well off of the Wendy's super bar by 88 to 92 with the windy salad bar or windy super bar.

Kelly:

Four years of four years of that?

Alex:

Yeah, I think probably 1992 I was a grown ass man by then. And i i It was it was beneath me.

Kelly:

And you know now when you go to get a checkup from your doctor, and you find something 92. But residual.

Alex:

So check this out. I was thinking about this Wendy supervisor Dillo research. And then in the Lobster. And how they had this catastrophe with their endless shrimp promotion. Ya know, if you're promotion, but for 20 bucks last year, and 2023 for 20 bucks, you could go and basically have all they I think they have five different shrimp dishes. You pick two, and then you can you start for more. And that cost Red Lobster $11 million in losses in the third quarter of 2023. Wow. Too many bring traffic in. But everybody decided to do that. And so they raised it to 25 bucks. I think they just keep raising the price because this endless shrimp makes people come to Red Lobster shrimp, and that is costing them money. And I read this, and I thought this really sounds familiar. I Google search took me to a 2003 article. Turns out I had read the same story before, by Red Lobster. endless crab promotion. You kidding me? So in 2003, they had an endless crab promotion for for eat all the crab and it was exactly the same problem as the shrimp problem is now at the time, second helping on all you can eat, but it was the third. And then the CEO chimed in and said, and were getting three and four helpings. And that's what did the men and what happened was the crab promotion, but they ended up firing the CEO over it. Fast forward 20 years. And we're doing the this

Kelly:

thing. It actually seems like shrimp would be worse because shrimp are smaller, and you can

Alex:

Right now it's it was the equivalent of $38 for the in endless crab and it's 20 They started this you know, not a good idea. Yeah, I think the lesson here is unless you go full, all you can places that do a really, really savvy job of all you can eat. And there's lots of different YouTube can eat places and how they make money. Let me just give you a few of these. First give me a not secret of on the either side secret on the restaurant side how they make money. Yeah. And so the vegetables, the rice, the bread, salad bar, a lot of times, that's the first thing you walk on there and will fill you up. They put lots of starchy foods in there. So that's a rice and want to fill you up so you don't keep going back and forth. Then on things that are relatively them because they can buy them in bulk. And they put enormous spoons, in anything that they want enormous spoon, so you get as many as you can,

Kelly:

and try this strategy at home. When you

Alex:

get to the meat and the things that are more expensive. They give you tiny little tongs. Right. I would assume that this is what like loop. One Luby's isn't all you can eat is it? I think a

Kelly:

to be one called Ryan's there was gold Sherelle. You know, it's funny. My dad used to gooey at the trough. Well,

Alex:

my wife tells me about a place she grew up in Cleveland, and there was a place called Duff's.

Kelly:

oh, yeah, we had Duff's in Houston for a while.

Alex:

And it was a stall. Like, yeah, yes.

Kelly:

That's the one. That's actually the one my dad used to call the the trough. That was the

Alex:

It was literally you'd go and it would just be a stall. And they would just keep filling you went to Cleveland earlier this year, I was looking for a Duff's so I can because I can't picture what they have many more.

Kelly:

Right? They don't even have enough beer there. Yeah.

Alex:

So they also give you small plates at these all you can eat places, you think that that's so people could put a lot of stuff but actually, there's a psychological thing where if you have a act of keep of you keeping on going to make more trips makes you seem Fuller, and they want you to maybe I better slow down well,

Kelly:

although actually you're you know getting up and walking you're kind of exercising you're counterintuitive. Now, have you ever been to Korea? The sushi place?

Alex:

No, but we have an all you can eat sushi place here

Kelly:

will occur up Kara. They have one here in Austin and I think there's one in Houston as well. the way it works is you can pull anything you want off the conveyor belt. So you know it's like know, potstickers noodles, all kinds of stuff. And when you pull it off, and you eat it, you drop chute, and it counts the plates. And every plate is like 250 or $3 or whatever. And then there's a eaten. And, and if you eat a certain number of plates, you actually there's a big gumball machine belt. After you've eaten a certain number, it will drop down a prize. So

Alex:

I want you to know I want you to take me to this place that sounds Yeah, let's go to Korea.

Kelly:

It's amazing. No, I've

Alex:

been to a place in San Francisco that had little boats. The all the Sushi was little boats. take each boat costs different depending on what color the sail was each boat.

Kelly:

Well, do you remember ponchos were speaking of sales where you had the little flag and when there's those Brazilian steakhouse is where you get a little card and one side is green and one green side up there like they're all over you. They have a salad bar there that's actually really follows up on salad Foggo jets rookie

Alex:

mistake. You know what else they do in these places they give you small forks. Apparently small faster. And the big thing too is they give you very large beverage glasses they want you to fill you'll feel full the whole idea is to get you full as fast as you can on their end. Wow now man there to try to tell you how to beat the system. I think the best way to probably go in reverse yeah

Kelly:

eat the eat the small small stuff first the stuff with smalls if you've got a small serving the most of and they

Alex:

also reserve the right to kick you out or to tell you that you're done there's nothing in the we that we have the right to eat all you can eat in an all you can eat play so all these places can not caught up anymore I think they say all you care to eat. Yeah.

Kelly:

Somebody somebody in the marketing department came up with that That's brilliant.

Alex:

well that's all I got man I was just wanted to tell you a little bit about some all you can my eyes, Wendy superpower Take care, everybody.