Will Coronavirus End the Restaurant Buffet as We Know It?

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When life gets back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, one thing that may not be a part of your future is the all-you-can-eat buffet, which could be devastating for some restaurant owners.

Lloyd Van Horn, general manager of the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said the hotel's popular buffet has ground to a halt. "This would be packed right now, yes, there would be lots of activity here right now," he told Inside Edition. 

Before the pandemic, his staff served more than 500 guests daily at the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet. 

"As you can see, we are closed, and who knows when we get to re-open," Van Horn said. "Whenever that is, it's going to be a whole new scenario from what it was."

The way buffets are designed can be problematic, because you don't know who went before you. Another key issue is the utensils, said Don Schaffner, a professor of food microbiology. 

"The problem with buffets is it's a high-touch area," Schaffner said. "So many people are touching the same utensils and we know that the virus can live on surfaces like that." 

Shaffner said re-opening buffets might happen one day, but only after drastic changes, including keeping the area constantly sanitized and keeping people far apart. 

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