Buffets, salad bars not included in restaurant industry's plans to reopen

Posted at 4:59 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 09:23:33-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — While many restaurants have stayed open for takeout and delivery during the stay at home order, buffet-type businesses like San Diego-based Souplantation have remained closed.

"If you're a real fan of buffets I wouldn't plan on going anytime soon," said Dr. Donald Schaffner, a professor in the food sciences department at Rutgers University.

He explained that buffets and salad bars can be a prime spot for the virus to spread.

"Not from the food in the buffet but someone puts the virus onto a utensil, I handle the utensil and I put my finger on my mouth or stick my finger up my nose or something like that and now I've been exposed to the virus," said Schaffner.

At Baron's Market in North Park, they haven't shut down their salad bar. Instead, they've adapted.

"Prepackaged salads in the salad bar, in our olive bar we packaged everything so that people can just grab it and go," said Senior Vice-President Rachel Shemirani.

The grocery store chain says they've also figured out a way to keep the popular soup station open.

"We have someone standing there, an employee dedicated to serve customers soup," explained Shemirani.

While it does keep things more sanitary, they are going through a lot of single-use packaging and trying to figure out how to move forward in a more eco-friendly way.

"We see this happening for the long run in our industry. Prepackaged items and now we're looking for another source to come up with another option for all of that plastic we're using," said Shemirani.