Principles, functions and procedures of buffet restaurants (Part 1)


The Buffet Restaurant Service

Some think that hotels They introduce the buffet to work with fewer staff. However, some establishments They have created it out of the need to give the customer new attention and better service. This does not mean that certain personnel savings and increased efficiency are not obtained through this service.

So the real reason for the introduction of the buffet is in the also information. It's about better meeting the needs of the guests.

Main advantages of the Buffet Table

  1. Quick service.
  2. Greater choice. More variety.
  3. Ease of food identification.
  4. Possibility of eating at will.
  5. Greater visual appeal of the food.
  6. With great efforts in merchandising you can make extra sales.
  7. Provide greater freedom to the customer in the act of eating.
  8. With the buffet system the friendliness and customer service can be better since the clerks are less burdened with work than in a restaurant conventional.
  9. It allows a correct planning and organization of the work of the brigade of kitchen and salon with a greater specialization.
  10. Economic profitability reducing costs and service personnel.

The buffet, like other hotel activities, is a challenge to the imagination of the professional. Imagination in the selection, preparation and presentation of dishes. Imagination in its arrangement and setting. Imagination in the support that is going to be provided to clients so that they do not think of a dehumanized offer.

Factors that justify the buffet table service

Buffet table service in our country has taken an extraordinary boom, especially in hotels, motels, villas or restaurants extra hoteliers that receive tourist groups. This is due to the streamlined way of offering a varied food service where fruits, juices and an adequate assortment of other food products prevail, capable of satisfying the most varied tastes, the following being the factors that justify this fact:

Sociocultural habits:
  • On many occasions and circumstances, the act of eating has become an informal and relaxing period that allows the diner to let go of conventions or formal attitudes.
  • The burden of a classic service is replaced by a "fun" such as walking around observing the delicacies on display, choosing without any pressure and putting on the plate the amount that each one wants.
  • During the holidays and in tourist hotels, the buffet has become an irreplaceable offer.
  • One of the characteristics of the buffet is the speed of service. The customer does not have to wait and he sets the pace for his meal.
  • On the other hand, the service personnel become an element of support to the diners without suffering the pressure that is sometimes generated during normal service.
Abundance in supply
  • If a menu is a restricted and limited offer, the buffet represents the abundance of dishes where the customer chooses with greater possibilities.
  • This attractiveness should not mean a higher cost of raw materials as long as the supply is planned according to the tastes and consumption of the demand-customers.
  • The price factor is usually also an attraction. Normally the price / quality / quantity ratio represents a plus over what is paid or at least the customer estimates it.
  • The abundance in the buffet makes this offer more valued in relation to others and however, it does not usually imply a higher cost.

Table-buffet modalities

According to the conditions, characteristics and possibilities of the restaurant the buffet may adopt different modalities according to certain qualifying criteria:

For the integral organization:

It refers to the order and the way in which the furniture, means and equipment that make up the buffet are placed in correspondence with the spatial arrangement of the premises arranged for such purposes and for what they can be.

  1. Front: Longitudinal table that is in a line parallel to the wall, with a single dispatch area, where a series of containers with food offers rest that the client selects freely or with the help of the service personnel.
  2. Linear: Longitudinal table that is placed perpendicular to the wall with an office area on both sides of the table, where a series of containers with food offers that the client selects freely.
  3. On Island: Independent tables where the food is arranged by product families, taking into account the spatial organization of the premises, which allows greater mobility for customers and eliminates the feeling of self-service.
  4. Combined: It is the one in which both styles are combined. Currently, the combination of the front with that of Islands is used, which is highly appreciated by the clientele.

For the service it offers:

  1. Of breakfasts: They are highly developed internationally and whose price is included in the room rental, they are generally used in tourist groups with CP (Continental Plan).
  2. Brunch: Buffet service modality from the United States and whose name is formed from the words breackfast and lunch, and is nothing more than one more alternative of food service that is offered between breakfast and lunch that is between 11:00 and 15 hours; constituting an enriched breakfast are used by tour groups with EP (European Plan).
  3. Lunch: This is generally prepared in outdoor areas such as terraces, swimming pools and country places, it is very useful as a service modality and serves tourist groups with MAP (Modified American Plan).
  4. Full: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered avoiding the repetition of the dishes, the same decoration, the same variety or form of presentation, is used in tourist groups with AP (American Plan).

By size:

  1. Grande: They have a large amount of furniture, means and equipment and have a capacity for more than 150 people.
  2. Small: It has the furniture, means and sophisticated equipment to cover a demand of 100 to 150 people.

For its equipment:

  1. Equipped: It has means specially designed for the preservation of the buffet such as cold, neutral and hot furniture. These are fixed or modular with separation of zones and positional changes at will. Allowing greater mobility and visual appeal.
  2. Not equipped: It has tables and furniture not designed for conservation with the required quality of the buffet, so that in the course of the service time the food tends to decrease its freshness and presentation requirements.

For its preparation and presentation

  1. Classic: Elaborate meals and highly decorated with artificial products.
  2. Nao: Natural presence, fresh and little manipulated of the foods of the foods, meals with little transformation in the cooking and great use of natural products in the decoration. This type of buffet is an important trend today.

For the degree of service of the staff.

  1. Not assisted: Little or almost no intervention of the employees in the service to the table, they only take care of the removal of the table and the replacement of the same with the necessary supplies.
  2. Assisted: Employees help serve customers, carve and portion if necessary, serve certain main or complementary dishes to the table, the liquids that the customer wants, etc., in addition to other offers not included in the buffet.

General characteristics of the buffet tables

The buffet as a contemporary social phenomenon is given to solve the existing demand of group tourism which has the following characteristics:

  1. The customer takes the amount and type of items they want within a reasonable variety, creating the feeling that a lot is on offer with a minimum price.
  2. Meaning of the service. The client himself assumes the responsibility of providing the service.
  3. The delay time in the restaurant It is set by the client, being generally short and allowing the service to be provided to a large number of people simultaneously.
  4. The staff requires high agility and dexterity to maintain the rate of rotation that this service demands.
  5. It requires a good organization of the workshop kitchen, an adequate planning of the products, this is essential to avoid errors in the buffet service.
  6. It requires a level of stability of the supplies programmed in the cyclical menu.
  7. It requires a high level of imagination and good taste to achieve different presentations of dishes, variety of flavor, color and avoid monotony.
  8. Offer with low production costs since it allows the use of many by-products and consumption is generally below what is paid for.

These characteristics operate according to the specific conditions as advantages or disadvantages, having to work in a particular way to overcome the deficiencies that may appear in the buffet service of each facility.

Specific characteristics that buffet tables must meet

The buffet table is a type of food service that is used mainly in hotels or villas that receive tourist groups, although it is also feasible to set it up in a restaurant where passing tourism is received. This modality is very accepted, since it satisfies many tastes and dietary needs, due to its great variety.

  1. The foods are grouped in an orderly fashion starting with a wide variety of fruits, followed by cold salads, vegetables, broths, hot or cold, complementary hot dishes, main avocados, cheeses, sweet breads, jams and fruit salads, which can be the same at the beginning as at the end of the table; being able to vary the order of the food in correspondence with the needs or economy of the table.
  2. The buffet table must have a table for the exhibition mainly of wines, this will be covered with tablecloths or colored fabrics, placed at the main entrance of the restaurantIn it, the different brands of wines in the house will be exhibited by classes, with the constant of having labels always in front of the client; In this type of assembly, the reserve wines will be presented in their respective baskets; The prices of each drink must be set or a drinks menu will be available with their corresponding prices.
  3. This type of service will have one or more suppliers in charge of providing the food quickly and adequately as it is consumed and satisfying any request during the service.
  4. The hot area will be served by properly uniformed cooks and the other areas of the salon.
  5. Fonts must be replaced before three-quarters of them are finished. Its cleanliness and hygiene in this type of service is very important, it must be taken into account that the client wants to see the food clean and presentable, so there must be staff that is constantly grooming and restocking the dishes on the table, not to The impression of the exhibited there has been manipulated by many clients before.
  6. Customers will be received by the Head of the Hall or Captain of the Gastronomic Service, who will leave the table they prefer, always indicating the smoking area and the non-smoking area if it exists, then the Captain will take the order of the drink.
  7. The staff that works in the restaurant will be very aware of a customer's claim. For this reason, attention to the table is of the utmost importance, as well as the ability and dexterity of the clerk to collect the service already used.
  8. The speed at the time of bringing and serving the drinks, infusions, cigars or other foods that are not included in the price set at the buffet table, will denote the degree of professionalism of the executing brigade, as well as at the time present the check once requested by him; client, the check will be presented once requested by the client, it will be presented in a saucer on a folded napkin.
  9. The foods that are offered are generally cut into small sizes or thin slices, easy to break with a fork or eat in one bite.

These are some of the specific characteristics that they must complete on a regular basis; however in the next chapter these will be expanded in more detail.

General principles that buffets must comply with

The buffet can be an attractive offer or a set of dishes that does not suggest anything to the customer. For the buffet to have a hook and meet its objectives, it must respond to these principles.

Proper mounting:

A buffet must have a presentation in accordance with what is required to be exhibited, but always with relief and color, that is, it cannot be a monotonous line nor can it lack the visual color appeal (see section 4.3.2 Chapter IV). In addition, the buffet must be well provided with hot and cold support elements, cutlery, crockery, etc., in such a way that the dishes are properly preserved and the customer always has the material for their service.

Logical provision of the offer:

Although the client likes to discover the dishes, we have to help him with a logical distribution of them. For this we will create areas for fish salads, meat, cold dishes, desserts, etc. In some cases and if there are enough spaces, these islands can be repeated to avoid crowds.

Replacement and assistance

It is very important that there is a correct replacement of dishes and service material so that the buffet does not lose its appeal. On the other hand and although it is a "self service" offer, the buffet can be assisted by the necessary staff, both in the exhibition area and at the tables. There is nothing more unpleasant than seeing empty or semi-empty dishes, food leftovers, plates accumulated on the tables due to not having a correct service.

In short, the buffet must respond to what the French call FRAC.

  • Frarchenr: Fresh raw materials, freshly prepared dishes, etc.
  • Relief: Relief in the assembly, placing the offer at different heights and avoiding flat presentations.
  • Abundant; Abundance in the offer or at least it should give that feeling.
  • Flow: Colour

Technological equipment of the linear buffet and standard dimensions

As we have already mentioned, the buffet restaurant is one of the most widely accepted food services today due to its great variety, hence the possibility of satisfying many tastes; Since it offers a great variety of fruits, vegetables, hot or cold broths, main dishes, cheeses, breads, sweets, jams and fruit salads. In addition, there must be an exhibition of drinks placed at the entrance of the restaurant; in this way the customer will have the possibility to choose and compose their own menu.

The buffet restaurant must be located close to the kitchen central because it is supplied with the cooking, hot and cold, servi-bar and scrubbing areas, always trying to find them on the same level or floor. The place must respond to the needs of capacity, setting and decoration, as well as spaces to prepare the service. It must be equipped with tables or modules for the location of the different dishes, either hot, semi-hot or cold that the house presents as offers.

Taking into account the design bases of tourist technologies; as well as the recommended indices of gastronomic places per room and the recommended indices of square meters per places in the restaurants buffets by categories; The following tables are proposed as a means of verification, to see if they are within the permissible range according to the characteristics of the establishment, since these values ​​are considered the maximum limit, with a view to achieving greater economy of service areas, and avoiding this it forms a gastronomic oversize.

These are obtained by multiplying the average value by the% of structuring for buffet by the recommended indices.

Number of places recommended for restaurants buffets according to capacity and hotel category


Amount of square meters recommended for restaurants buffets according to capacity and hotel category

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Considering that in most of the restaurants buffet, the linear integral table is being used, below, we offer a table that reflects the minimum technological equipment that these integral furniture must have to provide a higher quality service to the client and the dimensions of those equipment.

Dimensions are given in millimeters and are approximate data.
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