Las Vegas Buffets Begin to Reopen Following Lockdown
Las Vegas is crackling with excitement over the reopening of three of the most popular buffets in Sin City. Don’t laugh, but buffets are big business in Vegas. Or they were, up until a year or so ago.
The pandemic and the governmental responses were hell on most businesses everywhere, particularly those in the hospitality industry.
In Las Vegas, where hospitality is THE industry, the 14-month lockdown was devastating.
After more than a year of pandemic lock-down, a few casino resorts are reopening their most popular venues, those all-you-can-eat (or “AYCE” among buffet gourmands) nirvanas, are again heating up the steam tables, preparing truckloads of crab legs, and getting ready for le déluge.
As you might expect, the buffets are not reopening without some nods to the pandemic. Social distancing is still requested, so do not elbow people out of your way as you make your way to the sushi section. Ditto the prime rib station.
Your first question is, of course: Will three buffets be enough? Imagine the lines for the crab legs. You think I am kidding?
A few years ago, Aria’s Buffet reportedly served more than 98,000 pounds of crab legs in a 12-month period. Now, I repeat; imagine the line for crab legs.
Incidentally, while three resort buffets are reopening, there’s another 41 buffets at resort casinos that are not scheduled to re-open any time soon.
More on that in a bit. Let’s look at the three buffets that are now open in Las Vegas, along with some of the special rules that will be in place at each.
Which Buffets are Reopening?
The Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan
The Wicked Spoon started serving customers this year in May.
Diners will follow a staff member to the various food stations and direct the staff member as the staffer fills a plate for the guest. The guest will be expected to maintain a six-foot social distance at the food station.
The Garden Buffet at South Point
Like the Wicked Spoon, the Garden Buffet at South Point will be staff-served while guests maintain social distancing as they make their selections.
South Point has also put a limit on parties to six or fewer “at this time.”
Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace
Bacchanal Buffet is the most recent reopening, serving diners starting on May 20th. Bacchanal “encourages” making reservations — a good suggestion for any of the three buffets noted here — and requires social distancing while your server fills your plate.
The buffet also requests that guests limit their dining experience to 90 minutes.
Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
The dining rules notwithstanding, the reopening of even a few of the buffets in Las Vegas is a welcome event.
But three buffets are less than ten percent of the resort-casino buffets that operated in resort-casinos throughout Las Vegas just 14 months ago.
These include the Corner Market Buffet at Treasure Island and the Circus Buffet at Circus Circus. And 39 other resort-casino buffets remain “temporarily closed.”
But as restrictions continue to fade, you will want to keep an eye on your favorite buffet with visits to the various resort websites.
Just be warned that many have simply removed any mention of buffets from their restaurant lists. Two of the Las Vegas gaming world’s largest employers, MGM and Caesars, have done this with many of their buffets.
Still, even the slightest improvement to the moribund restaurant scene in Sin City is a welcome one. One thing, though; if you like crab legs, bring a book.