Someone Asks All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Workers To Share Their Horror Stories, And They Don’t Hold Back (30 Answers)


Buffets remove the semblance of civilization from the experience of dining out. Scoping massive portions of meat with one’s bare hands, consuming three pizzas in public, and other heinous behaviors are all given free rein for the low, low cost of a one-time entrance fee.

Perhaps out of morbid curiosity, one internet user wanted to hear what sort of horrors buffet workers have seen while watching people chow down. The submissions ranged from humorous to downright chilling. So remember to upvote the stories you found most shocking as you scrolled through, and comment if you have had the misfortune of a similar experience.

More info: Reddit


Not a "Horror" story, just funny.

I worked at Wendy's when they had salad bars. You could get a single-serving bowl (They used to serve eat-in chili in Styrofoam bowls, and the Large doubled as a chili bowl), or "All you can eat" platters. (The Taco Salad bottom plate.)

On a slow afternoon, this guy came in and got a single serving bowl. After a few minutes, our manager motioned to me and the sandwich guy to discreetly take a look at the salad he was making.

The guy had filled the bowl with salad, then made a ring of overlapping cucumber slices to extend the lip of the bowl upwards. He filled that with salad, then added another ring. It took several minutes to build this thing, but by the time he'd finished, he had a tower of salad well over a foot tall, wth multiple rings of cucumber slices containing it.

That salad was an engineering marvel. He carefully carried it back to his table, sat down, then looked up guiltily as our manager walked out to him.

The manager handed him a "free item" coupon, and said, "That is the most impressive salad I have ever seen. Your next one is on me."


Not an employee, but I witnessed a marvelous thing.

Sitting in a small town Chinese buffet. Three big dudes, not obese but farm built big, come in. These guys proceed to just.. clean house. Plate after plate after plate. They weren't wasteful; they ate everything they took. They were very polite to the staff and other customers.

But I bet each man ate a dozen plates, each stacked high. The cooks were working to keep up.

My family and I found ourselves watching this marvelous feat of eating unfold in awe.

When they approached the counter to pay, all this eating unfolding in only 45 minutes or so, the manager greeted them at the counter. In his broken English he simply said "You men. You no pay.. but you no come back."

The guys gave each other and the manager a "yeah fair enough" look and left.

Image credits: chilibreez


Obligatory "not a buffet worker", just a witness. We were waiting in line for the soft serve machine at Golden Corral. The woman in front of us gets up to the machine and awkwardly jerks the handle around in an attempt to get at the sweet, sweet ice cream within. She's pushing, pulling, twisting, doing literally everything but turning it to the right (which would have dispensed the ice cream).

She's really perplexed by this. So she takes the next logical step, of course, which is to wrap her lips around the spout, form a seal on it with her mouth and start trying to suck it right out of the tap. One of the workers sees this and looks on in disgust before he unplugs the machine. On the way out, we see that he put an out of order sign on it, so thankfully they didn't keep serving it after that whole incident.

Image credits: Leigh_Lemon

This might not be entirely surprising, but the more a person pays for a buffet, the more they will eat. Our brains absolutely love getting every last drop of value out of something, to the point where overeating doesn’t feel as bad as the knowledge that you didn’t get your money's worth. The very first such establishment opened in Las Vegas, in 1946, which is entirely fitting, given the excessive nature of that particular city. All that post-war, utopian optimism where portions were endless and one never had to limit themselves to trying just a handful of things.

Americans in particular love this style of dining, and have even extended it to other, quintessential American establishments like baseball. In a show of ultimate American fusion, Dodger Stadium opened an all-you-can-eat section in 2007. Since then, the trend has spread to other sporting leagues and venues across the country. Because what better way to enjoy some of the greatest athletes alive than by eating junk food?


Years ago, I worked at an all-you-can-eat country buffet in South Carolina. I was a busboy.
One day, I went to a table. It was a mess, as per usual. It looked to be a large family/group of families of around 12 people or so.
The thing that stuck it in my memory is that whenever they had finished with what they were going to eat, they would scrape their plate and use it again.
Scrape their plates... *onto the floor next to their chairs.*
So next to each chair, there was a 6-inch to 18-inch pile of chicken bones, crab legs, mashed potatoes, remnants of baked potatoes, etc.
Just disgusting.

Image credits: which_spartacus


I managed a buffet in a casino in Reno for a few months. Had this family come in... mom, dad, two little kids. I get called over to the table because the mom had thrown up on her plate/table and wanted us to take it away and clean it up.

I asked if she was ok, and she said she always throws up when she eats cheese. She had gotten herself an enchilada (it was Mexican theme night). WTF lady, enchiladas pretty much always have cheese. I told her I would have to call janitorial because none of my staff was trained to handle biohazards. She "didn't understand why I couldn't just take it." Janitorial came in and couldn't clean up because she refused to move from the table. So janitorial left.

She calls me back over and starts yelling at me, dad starts yelling too. Apparently she wanted to keep eating after throwing up, which I thought was really gross. I had them sit at another table so they could all keep eating. Janitorial came back and cleaned the other table.

Finally they go to leave and decide to make a huge scene in front of the whole restaurant and demand their money back. I refuse. Dad gets in my face and starts shouting that I'm just a racist white b***h and his wife makes loads more money than I do. I call security and they storm out, pulling pictures off the wall and shattering them on the floor, and dad also picked up a vase and broke it. The two kids are running around and banging on the walls. Security finally shows up after they ran off, I have to do a report, and they were put on the 86 list. I f*****g hate people.

Image credits: release_the_hound


Watched a man at the ponderosa walk up to the buffet without a plate, untuck his t-shirt, pull the hem up to form a basket, reach into the steam tray of chicken wings with his bare hand, and just load up on hot wings in his makeshift shirtbucket. The woman in the kitchen was like "please sir, could you use a plate? Or just tongs?"

Guy scoffed and looked at her like she'd asked him to don a tuxedo.

Image credits: RoxyFurious

Some aspects of all-you-can-eat still persist even in ‘regular’ restaurants. Free refills are commonplace in the US, as margins on beverages are so good that they justify the cost. Some restaurants manage to get an 80% margin or more on soft drinks, which ends up being a win-win, the restaurant gets money, the customer gets as much to drink as they like and the customer's dentist gets a consistent amount of business repairing sugar-induced cavities.


Not an employee or a customer, but we had a Chinese buffet shut down for a health code violation, which was employee was cutting veggies while taking a s**t. To this day I still wonder if that means dude brought a bucket into the kitchen or veggies into the sh**ter and I honestly don't know which is worse.

Image credits: darkagl1


I had a co-worker that briefly managed a Ryan's buffet. He said that it was fairly common for people to gorge themselves, then purge in the restroom and start eating again so that they could "get their money's worth".

Image credits: obeyyourbrain


Went as a customer to a golden corral. Im walking to the chocolate fountain and 3 little girls step in front of me, and all 3 of them just go hands deep in the fountain. The family was the first table by the fountain and all they did was laugh about how cute it was..
Employees turned it off immediately.

Image credits: lovelyyyrose1993

The cost of soft drink syrups for many restaurants and bars is so low, that they will just give it away as a sort of investment to keep customers buying other things. Some US and Canadian bars will give free soda with refills to patrons who are the designated driver that night. Besides being a nice gesture to someone who has to spend the evening being sober around drunk people, it ensures the patron's safety and that they might return. 


College friend worked at a chinese buffet. He said they caught a regular dipping his pizza in the wonton soup bowl (like, in the queue and not at his table) and eating it. Bite, dip, bite, dip, bite, dip.

After the fourth time in a month he did it management finally kicked him out.

Image credits: ndkjr70


Not an employee, but a customer.

A long time ago, my mom and I picked up a friend of hers and we went to a local Chinese food buffet. This place had a thing where you could get a pound of food for $5 in a takeout container instead of sitting and eating at the restaurant if you want, so that was our plan.

The three of us were browsing around the buffet line with our takeout containers, adding what we wanted to them... and then I noticed my mom's friend doing something f*****g disgusting.

He was eating a chicken wing. Like, right in front of the buffet line, hiding his face behind his takeout container. And then he took the chicken bone and *put it back in the buffet tray*.

I walked over to my mom and told her what he was doing, and at first she thought I was joking. So she walked over towards him and now he was standing there eating a slice of watermelon right off the buffet, and then *putting the rind back in the tray.*

So my mom is like "What the f**k are you doing!?" and he's like "Don't worry, I do this all the time! They never notice!".

So of course both me and mom are panicking, worried that they're gonna call the cops or something because of this disphit. We basically pretended to not know him and continued to fill up our containers *the right way*.

After a couple minutes, one of the employees walks up to my mom and tells her that they noticed what the guy was doing, and they noticed that we were also uncomfortable about it and didn't intend to blame us. But they warned her that if she doesn't get him to pay for the food in his container and leave immediately, they'll be calling the police.

So of course mom tells him that we need to go. Now. And he just brushes it off like "I don't care. They're not gonna do anything!"

Well, me and mom walked up to the front, paid for our containers, apologized, and walked out and left him in there. A minute later, you can see and hear him shouting with the staff. He throws his container on the ground and food splatters everywhere. He storms out, shouting insults as he leaves, and of course gives them a "I'm never coming back!", to which they reply "You're not allowed in here no more! We'll call the cops!"

So we're standing out by the car, waiting for him. Of course, we yell at him for being a piece of s**t. We get in the car and the next thing you know, this m**********r starts pulling chicken wings and chinese donuts out of his f*****g pockets and eating them.

We dropped him off at home and never spoke to him again.


Pickle Boy

There was this man who used to come into our restaurant who clearly wasn’t all there in the head. He was functional but very weird. As the months progressed, he got WAY weirder. He started wearing women’s underwear over his clothes, even going so far as to stuff his bra. Picture a 6’2” 250lb dude with a baby face wearing silky underpants and a lace bra *over* ratty jeans and a stained Hawaiian shirt; that’s our guy. He went from being able to hold a sort of normal conversation to just spouting conspiracy theory word salad. But the weirdest thing was his change of eating habits. He used to eat a variety of our soup/salad/baked potato options from our buffet, but as his mental health deteriorated, so did his desire for variety I guess. By the time his weirdness devolved to aggression and we had to 86 him, he was coming in for two things: pickles and ranch dressing. He’d pile as many pickle slices as he could onto his plate, then put so much ranch on them the dressing and pickle juice would be running all over the tray. He’d eat it all, and his face would be covered in ranch and pickle bits. Then he’d drink water straight from the pitcher he inevitably stole from the wait station, sliming it with pickle ranch slobber. Never a dull moment with that dude around!

Pickle Boy, wherever you are today, I really hope you got the help you so desperately needed but I was not sorry to see you go.

ETA: For those who are asking about the term 86, on this case it means we kicked him out permanently.

Image credits: cawatxcamt


At one point i worked for a pizza place that used to have a day buffet that I would make pizzas for. One time two huge dudes come in the moment we open for the buffet. The manager on duty dropped the first two pizzas down on the buffet, turned to grab the next two, turned back and both pizzas were gone. A few minutes later both dudes walk back up and each take an entire pizza again and walk back to continue eating. They proceeded to do this over and over, grabbing an entire pizza each for themselves for the entire 3 hours we were offering the buffet. Was one hell of a day.

Image credits: mysticbooka


Not a worker - but I went to HomeTown Buffet and the kid in front of me was slightly shorter than the buffet bar but had his hands in the jello - just massaging it. Then his mom came by and snatched him away but didn't say anything while a guy came and made himself a bowl of jello. 10 yr-old me was too appalled to say anything. I haven't eaten jello since then....

Image credits: EmmyTheSweet


Friend and I walk into a buffet that serves pizza, fried chicken and other Southern staples. This one huge lady was sitting at one of those large round tables by herself. The table was covered in empty plates, at least 5 or 6 plates. He and I finish eating and start walking past the lady who is at the buffet again, when she yells across the room to the manager standing by the door "where's the f*****g chicken?!!". We are all kind of in shock that she would say that with families around, but he yells back "you ate it all!". People started to bust out laughing as we exited.


My parents owned an all you can eat buffet and I was there every day of my life from 4-14. My favorite horror story is when a couple came in to eat (obviously). They loveeed the crab legs and every time my mom put some out, they took it ALL. Also, just a reminder, crab legs are expensive! Forget the other customers, they just took it and ate it all. So they’re there for maybe 2 hours now and it’s getting dark. They’ve eaten through at least a week’s stock of crab legs and my mom finally decides it’s enough. She stops putting it out in the buffet and brings individual plates to the customers who wanted it but couldn’t get any due to this couple.

~~Understandably,~~ the couple is angry. They literally flipped the chairs at their table, flipped their plates, bowls, cups, etc and completely trashed their area. Food was all over the floor, table, chairs. Sticky soda was dripping into the carpet. They left in a hurry, but someone caught their license plate. We called the cops and I think they said they charged them with something? I can’t remember the aftermath details clearly, because I was probably 8 or 9 years old (20 now). I just remember looking at the mess and feeling really angry that my sister and I had to clean it up with our mom. It was a family run business, so we didn’t have much help.

Anyways, that’s my horror story. The end.

Image credits: blooberries1


I was once at an Old Country Buffet, waiting patiently to get some Mac & Cheese. The kid in front of me plied his plate high, and then started tapping the serving spoon to get all of the chessy goodness free from the confines of the spoon. Once he was satisfied with his handiwork, he licked the spoon clean. I didn't have any Mac & Cheese, and haven't been back since

Image credits: allhailkircules


I worked at a pizza buffet for 2 years during college. I have a number of stories, but the one that I will always remember is the guy who got super upset that we wouldn't make more dessert pizza when we were half an hour past closing time.

This guy comes in with his presumed wife and 2 children around 8:30. We close at 9. Nothing out of the ordinary happens until 9 rolls around when it was still commonplace for people to be finishing up and eating what pizza was still left. I was doing the dishes and taking the empty dishes back from the buffet and I see this guy, arms crossed and staring at me as I take the empty dessert pizza dish. He says something to the effect of "when's the next one coming out, I never got any" I let him know that we close at 9 and we can't really make anything past then because the oven gets shut off. Luckily the manager overheard this and stepped in to back me up and I quickly scamper off to the back to continue the dishes. He seemed pissed, but it wasn't unheard of, as being a cheap pizza buffet, you don't exactly bring in the most affluent of folks. About 5 min later, as I'm finishing up the plates, the same manager comes barreling through the back door, out of breath. He grabs 2 of the long wooden pizza pushers and says come with me. I have no idea what's going on, but I grab the pusher and follow him out the door. I learned later on, that he started flipping out, throwing the register and a fishbowl. He grabbed a broom and swung that around, hitting the girl behind the counter. As I exit from the back this guy is screaming and ranting unintelligibly. He was just asking for a fight. He walked up to the manager got all up in his face and kinda choke and pushed him back. He came at me next and I was really really close to taking a swing at his knees or something but the other manager had quickly gotten back up and he resumed harassing him. After about 2 min of tip-toeing around a brawl, and his wife presumably screaming for him to get back in the car, he eventually gets in and they drive off. I won't forget the glossed-over look in his eyes as he came after me. Freaks me out to this day.

Image credits: crazyfoot369


Picked up some fish and chips recently. Saw they had “all you can eat” on Wednesdays.

So I asked “What is the most that someone....”

“18 pieces of fish and 3 plates (she held up this huge platter) of fries......every....single.....Wednesday.”

“So he eats that exact order every week?”

“Yes, and he goes to a different ‘all you can eat’ every day of the week. He got banned from the Chinese place down the road.”


So I work in an ‘all you can eat’ using tablets. This is (according to my boss) based on a Japanese kind of restaurant. We serve (mostly) asian food, from Chinese to Japanese and even some Korean.

The premise is that people order their food in rounds and we then bring the food to their table when it is ready. We always warn customers before hand that, if they leave food behind, because they ordered too much, they will have to pay extra. Depending on what they left behind.

We have seen people try the weirdest stuff if it comes to not paying extra; people dumping food in their handbags, to people shoving it in their mouths then go to the toilet and flush it, to putting hair on it and blaming us for it (we see them pull this stuff), etc.

And when we actually catch them doing it, they blame us for it and refuse to pay. Some people let it come down to the police to sort it out sometimes, there have been multiple occasions on which they were involved to solve the problem for just €5,-. I guess some people’s greed has no extend.


I worked as a server at a Chinese buffet and 4 things came to mind instantly.

1. A middle aged woman puked on her table and blamed it on giving herself the wrong insulin dose. The 4 mountains of food she destroyed probably contributed too. Profusely apologized and tipped me $1.

2. I tried to pick up a dirty plate off a table that had a big pool of hibachi sauce/grease on it. The customer stopped me and said "thats the best part." Then proceeded to drink the sauce like it was the milk after a bowl of cereal.

3. A young mother complained to me because the crabmeat and cheese that we serve on the buffet made her child sick and they threw up. Her child was an infant. Not even a year old. I'm no child care expert but baked artifical crabmeat and mozzarella can't be good for a baby.

4. The restaurant was raided by ICE one morning shortly before opening. The entire back of the house and one of our managers were deported. Back of the house was 1/2 Chinese and 1/2 Latin American.

Image credits: Lewshis


I used to cook for a breakfast buffet back in 2012-2013 as one of my first jobs. The restaurant in question I won't say the name of, but rhymed with Meat'n Bark.

Most of the customers that we got at the restaurant in general would be old people, however, a lot of the old people were very entitled and would come straight from church to the restaurant for their breakfast buffet. I'll just make a list:

1. One old lady kept implying that I wasn't old enough to work there. I said, many times, my real age (17 at the time) and she kept saying "I bet they're just making you say that, you know it's illegal that they're making you do this!" and I'm just at a loss and don't know what else to tell this lady who is 100% confident that I must be under-age or working for free or something. I don't know what her goal was.
2. A guy taking all of the bacon and putting it on his plate, and then telling me to "look at that" (the empty spot where the bacon was before he took it) and I said "Okay... looking? What am I looking for?" and he said "Tell me what's wrong with that!" and I say "Um, I don't know, is it not clean or something?" and he says "THERE's NO BACON LEFT! Aren't you going to re-fill it!?" and I'm like "Well that's weird it was just filled a couple minutes ago, someone must have took it all!" (knowing it was him) and he couldn't put 2 and 2 together, and just said "I don't know but there's no bacon there so what are we going to do about it?"
3. Some lady looking at bacon in disgust and saying "Wow.. It's 2013, who even eats meat anymore? Really?"
4. Some lady shows up to the buffet 15 minutes after it closes, while we're taking it down, and says "Woh woh what are you doing!? I haven't even gotten my food yet!" and we tell her politely that the buffet had closed 15 minutes ago, and the servers even give a "last call" on the buffet 15 minutes before it closes. Her response "That's okay I'll just go complain to your manager" I just said okay sounds good. In my head I'm like, what, you're going to tell my manager that the buffet closed 15 minutes ago? He knows. Lmao
5. Nothing huge but the same lady would come to the restaurant at least twice a week and complain about how s****y her service is each time and how the food is terrible. Finally one of the hostesses said "if the service is so bad and the food is so bad then why do you come here multiple times a week?" which shut her up. Lmao.


I didn't work at an All You can eat, but my sister did.

The buffet itself was on the first floor, so you had to take either the stairs or the elevator to your seat.

Once there was a lady who was carrying a tray with a whole lot of stuff on it down. Glasses, plates and a whole lot more of junk. My sister asked the lady if she needed any assistance, to which the lady replied 'You assume because I'm fat, I need help?' My sister didn't react. A few seconds later the lady fell down the stairs. There was blood and food everywhere


I was a customer, not a worker.

My wife and I went to a Sweet Tomatoes for a lunch date, unlimited salad and soup was always good. One time, I saw a man over by the soups take the serving ladle for one of the weekly specials and take a big slurp from it. Then apparently he didn't like it and spat it back out into the ladle, and put the ladle back in the soup. WTF, dude?

I got up immediately and told the nearest staff what I'd seen, and they got right on getting that nearly full pot of soup out of there. I didn't have any more soup that visit, the what-ifs were too damn strong. Which is a shame, because I love their chunky chicken noodle.

Image credits: Saberus_Terras


A woman came in with two of her kids, and had a pretty regular meal. You pay when you leave at our place, and she decided to sneak out with her younger daughter before paying, leaving her underage son alone at the table. We caught on pretty quick and sent someone after her, who found her in her car in the parking garage, waiting for her son to come as well. She refused to come back in and pay, so we had to keep her son 'hostage' until the police came to handle the situation. What some people will do to their kids, i swear.

Forgot to mention we also found out from her son that she stole one of the managers' keycards and they would regularly come into the hotel and use the card to go swimming in the top floor pool. Smart, I'll give her that, but still.


My first job was as a dishwasher in an all you can eat fried catfish buffet.

People are animals. Especially the ones that get far more food off the buffet than they can eat. Then they take the leftovers and pile them on a plate or tray, cover them in ketchup and tartar sauce, then pour their iced tea over the top of all that.

A lot of people did that got at least two plates like that a night.

Image credits: sixpackshaker


Not a worker but I once saw a grown man have a child like meltdown over the fact that he showed up to Soup Plantation too late and missed out on the biscuits and gravy

Image credits: Zenkikid


Not an employee, but I was standing behind a woman at Hometown Buffet. She was getting some lasagna or something, basically a really cheesy pasta that when you lift the serving utensil, a lot of cheese hangs on. I witnessed her lift her pasta, twirl all the excess cheese that was connected around her index finger (and there was a lot), clip it off with her thumb nail, and then fling it back into the pasta.

I knew I shouldn't have been at Hometown Buffet in the first place, but this solidified my stance to never go back.


I bus at a slightly nicer resteraunt. On Fridays and Sundays we offer a prime rib and crab leg buffet, among a salad bar, hot and cold entrées, and a desert bar. It's honestly pretty nice and our buffet runner keeps anyone from doing ungodly things to the buffet.

But the one incident that will always stand out to me was when this family of five came in. From the moment they came in to the moment they left, they ate as many crab legs as they possibly could. Their server and I were clearing plates off as fast as we could. But every time we would return it seemed like another mountain of crab leg shells would appear in front of each member of that family. I know not how they ate so much and I honestly can't recall if they are anything besides the crab. Piles upon piles of shells were left upon the table after they left. It was truly a sight to behold.

What's more is after I wiped down the table and came back with settings, I had to get another rag to wipe down the table *again* because something in the crab leg juice combined with our sanitizer and left a nice milky residue upon the table. Delicious.

When I leave this job I'll never be able to look at crab legs the same way.


Not a worker but..

I was at a Chinese buffet with a Hot Pot option that you had to pay extra for. There was a separate section with the stuff for that which was raw. This guy loaded up his plate with all this raw stuff and was eating it, including dangerous raw stuff like shrimp. I think he may have been slightly intellectually disabled. The Chinese staff had to come over and inform him that he was eating the wrong things and try to explain it to him. He got really embarrassed and said that he did not understand how it worked. Between the Chinese staff with their limited English and this poor guy who was not capable of really understanding what he had done wrong, it was one of those awkward moments in a life that you cannot forget no matter how much you try.

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