Popular Old Country Buffets That Have Disappeared from the Map

In the heyday of the United States dining culture, few culinary institutions were as quintessentially American as the beloved old country buffet. However, as tastes evolve and dining trends shift, many of these once-iconic restaurants have faded into obscurity, leaving behind a trail of nostalgia and fond memories. Enter the annals of culinary history and reminisce about 15 famous old country buffets that have vanished from the gastronomic landscape!

Ponderosa Steakhouse

Back in the day, Ponderosa Steakhouse was the go-to spot in the suburbs. You couldn’t beat their juicy steaks, piled-high salad bar, and the ultimate all-you-can-eat buffet. Founded in 1965, Ponderosa was everywhere, with over 600 joints at its peak. But as time passed, it somehow lost its sparkle, and by the end of the 20th century, many of them had to call it quits.

Old Country Buffet

Remember Old Country Buffet? That place was like the heartbeat of every mall in America. It served up all the comfort foods you could dream of, from crispy fried chicken to creamy mashed potatoes and gooey macaroni and cheese. Back then, it was everywhere, with over 400 spots nationwide. But sadly, money troubles hit hard, and by 2016, most of them had to shut their doors for good due to bankruptcy.

Ryan’s Grill Buffet & Bakery

Ah, Ryan’s Grill Buffet & Bakery—a real crowd-pleaser with its hearty Southern fare and those irresistible freshly baked loaves. Families and big groups just couldn’t get enough of it. Started back in 1977, it hit its stride big time in the early 2000s. But then, sales started taking a nosedive, and sadly, a bunch of spots had to call it quits.


Once upon a time, Sizzler reigned as the go-to destination for budget-friendly steak and seafood buffets, capturing the hearts and appetites of many. Established in 1958, it flourished, spreading its influence with over 270 locations dotting the American landscape. Yet, as culinary trends shifted and consumer preferences evolved, its prominence waned. Everything culminated in a declaration of bankruptcy in 2020.

Bonanza Steakhouse

Alright, let’s talk Bonanza Steakhouse—a real gem with its Western vibes and all-you-can-eat spread. Started up in 1963, it was like wildfire in the 1970s and 1980s, popping up all over the place. But then, money troubles hit, and sadly, most of them had to shut down shop. It’s a shame because it was an absolute fave for many folks across the nation.

Western Sizzlin’

Western Sizzlin’ was a beloved fixture in many communities across the Southern United States, specializing in flame-grilled steaks and Southern-style comfort food. Founded in 1962, the chain struggled to compete with evolving dining trends and closed its remaining locations in the early 21st century.

Hometown Buffet

Hometown Buffet was the spot for folks who wanted a bit of everything without breaking the bank. They had all those classic American dishes that everybody loved. At one point, they were everywhere, with over 300 joints across the map. But things took a turn, and in 2016, they had to call it quits for good. It was a tough blow for budget-conscious diners and families looking for a tasty, wallet-friendly meal.

Country Buffet

You know about Old Country Buffet, right? Country Buffet was its sibling, dishing out that same homey cooking and comfort grub. They kicked things off in 1986, hoping to capture those same cozy vibes. But as time passed, they couldn’t quite keep up with the competition in the buffet scene. By 2016, they had to throw in the towel, leaving fans of homestyle eats feeling a bit bummed out.

Furr’s Fresh Buffet

Known for its expansive salad bar and rotating selection of homestyle dishes, Furr’s Fresh Buffet was a popular choice for diners craving variety and value. Despite efforts to revitalize the brand, including a rebranding as Furr’s AYCE Marketplace, the chain struggled to remain competitive and closed its remaining locations in 2019.

Quincy’s Family Steakhouse

With its emphasis on affordable steak dinners and all-you-can-eat buffets, Quincy’s Family Steakhouse was a favorite among diners seeking hearty portions and friendly service. Founded in 1974, the chain operated over 100 locations at its peak before declining sales led to widespread closures in the late 20th century.

Royal Buffet

Have you ever heard of Royal Buffet? It was a hit with folks who couldn’t decide between Asian flavors and classic American bites—they had it all! But even though they had spots scattered across the US at one point, they disappeared from the scene in the early 2000s. It’s a shame because they knew how to satisfy cravings for variety as a bang for your buck.

Golden Corral

While Golden Corral continues to operate hundreds of locations nationwide, its heyday as a bustling buffet destination has waned in recent years. Founded in 1973, Golden Corral faced scrutiny over food safety practices and struggled to attract diners amidst changing preferences and dining habits.

HomeTowne Buffet

HomeTowne Buffet was a local fave for those who craved a feast without emptying their wallets. With its endless buffet and wallet-friendly prices, it was like a food paradise. Opening in 1983, it quickly won over many Americans’ hearts (and stomachs). But sadly, money troubles crept in, and by 2016, they had to throw in the towel for good. It was a real loss for fans of good eats on a budget.


Though primarily known for its sit-down restaurants, Shoney’s has also offered buffet-style dining options at select locations. Founded in 1947, Shoney’s struggled to adapt to changing consumer preferences and closed many of its buffet locations in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Luby’s Cafeteria

While not strictly a buffet restaurant, Luby’s Cafeteria offered a similar dining experience with its cafeteria-style service and diverse selection of homestyle dishes. Founded in 1947, Luby’s faced declining sales and increased competition from fast-casual chains before announcing plans to liquidate its assets and close all locations in 2020.

Like it? Share it!

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge