NASHVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - A Nashville buffet has had to find new ways to run business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with modifications, there’s still a decline in walk-in dining.
“Well it’s been kinda off, depends on day to day. Some days it’s been good. Some days it has not been good. But I think that’s across the industry,” Joel Bailey, O’Neal’s Country Buffet owner, said.
The Nashville buffet has been there since 1993. They’ve survived many difficult times. Bailey has been the owner for the last 16 years.
The buffet reopened two weeks ago.
Bailey said it’s not been the same for him or anyone in the business.
“I spoke to several other restaurant owners and other family members and other businesses in different towns and they have experienced the exact same thing. It’s a slow rise," said Bailey. “But it is increasing day to day. I think it’s going to depend on businesses taking that extra precautions and providing customers that safety and from them knowing whether they come to my restaurant or anywhere, they’re going to be safe.”
To ensure the safety of staff and customers, Bailey said they have put 11 steps in place.
The cafeteria-style modification includes employees wearing masks and gloves serving customers’ food. It is still all you can eat, of course. There are barriers in between the food and customers. Condiments were removed from tables. All the dining tables are eight feet apart and capacity was cut by 50 percent. There’s a barrier between the cashier and customers. You can also find disinfectant stations around the restaurant.
“It’s a business but it’s also a family business. We have been here since ’93 and my customer base are not just customers, they’re people and I feel responsible in a sense for those people so I want to make sure they feel comfortable and then can come here to get a good meal, at a good price, be safe and enjoy the family atmosphere here in Nashville, Ga.,” said Bailey.
Before the reopening, they were doing curbside pickup, which helped the buffet stay afloat. Customers were able to call or order online.
Bailey also said they have been getting a lot of to-go orders.
“Some people don’t like change but change is a good thing sometimes. It helps you step back and reevaluate, see what works and what doesn’t work. Keeps your sharp. Keeps you looking forward rather than become complacent. I am excited, I know it’s kinda, you normally don’t hear that kind of language but I am excited about some of the opportunities and directions the restaurant industry must have to take like us in O’Neal’s,” said Bailey.