Old Country Buffet. Those three words bring up a lot of random memories. It was a special Sunday night meal in my family. It didn’t happen often, but our family of four would go when my overworked mom wasn’t in the mood to cook dinner. What kind of child wouldn’t want to load up on a buttload of forbidden food you couldn’t eat home? Plus, come on, a soft serve machine practically doles out unlimited amounts of joy for any kid.
But on our final night at Old Country Buffet, decades ago, my family and I all looked up at each other over our plates of mediocre food and silently decided we would never go back. We made good on our promise. But guess what? Looks like none of us will be returning to Old Country Buffet, likely ever again, because the chain has finally been acquired by a new buyer, who’s confirmed they have no plans on reviving it, Restaurant Business News reports.
BBQ Holdings, parent company of Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant, purchased Fresh Acquisitions, parent company of Old Country Buffet, in a bankruptcy auction this week. Fresh Acquisitions also owned HomeTown Buffet and Ryan’s (which I’m sure some of you also remember), along with a dead steakhouse chain called Tahoe Joe’s.
BBQ Holdings CEO Jeff Crivello said that it wasn’t planning on doing anything to revive Old Country Buffet, and that the chain (along with some of the other defunct ones under Fresh Acquisitions) was just sort of a bonus that came along with the bankruptcy acquisition.
“We have no immediate plans to reopen any of the buffet brands,” Crivello said. “Those are just IP that came alongside the transaction.”
To be fair, Old Country Buffet has been dead for a while now. The Chicago Tribune reported that Old Country Buffet closed its last Illinois location in 2020. Even if it was still around, it would probably have suffered through the pandemic, though fellow buffet chain Golden Corral gleefully made a comeback.
Old Country Buffet once boasted 650 locations. Now it’s a cultural relic, a dusty artifact, that probably won’t ever come back. I can’t tell how I feel, now that I know a part of my childhood is likely gone forever. Old Country Buffet, you were just too pure for this world, even though you weren’t that good to begin with.
While you’re thinking back on Old Country Buffet’s legacy, let us know your own wildest buffet-related memories.