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LuckyGuy's avatar

How do Chinese Sushi/Buffets make money?

Asked by LuckyGuy (37596points) February 23rd, 2011

I ate at a new restaurant yesterday. The place was spotless; the cutlery, plates, glasses, and bathroom immaculate. The food and trays were clean, organized and reasonably high quality. The sushi was excellent with tuna and salmon that melted in your mouth. There was a hibachi grill where they would cook the meats and vegetables you selected. Fruits, vegetables and desserts were delicious including: hot apple pie, 10 flavors of ice cream. There were so many staff your plates were gone within 30 seconds. Cost? It was all you can eat for $6.99! Yes, only $6.99!
How do they make money? It does not make sense to me. Are they financed by the Chinese government to increase American obesity rates and swamp our medical system? Are they disposing of nuclear waste by hiding it in the food? Are they trying to close other restaurants in the area so they have a monopoly and then they poison the food a few days before an invasion? Is it a money laundering operation? I really don’t get it. Anyone here ever work at one of these places? How do they make money?
This is in ‘social’ so feel free to fantasize if you don’t know.

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15 Answers

DominicX's avatar

Sushi is Japanese!

But man, those prices are outrageous. The sushi buffets around here are all-you-can-eat for $18 or more sometimes; it’s insane…

LuckyGuy's avatar

I know Sushi is Japanese – and Apple pie is “American’ and Hibachi is Korean. But there they were! Along with all the other standard Chinese restaurant dishes. The thing that really got me was the relatively high quality. I don’t get it. What are they trying to do?

I should have specified that this was lunch not dinner. but seriously what else would you want? Huangjiu?

DominicX's avatar

Actually, hibachi is also Japanese ^_^

But I checked the lunch price at one place I go to: $14. Not sure how the place you speak of manages such a low price with such a large variety of food. The place I’m referring to is only sushi.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Any chance that since it’s a new restaurant, this is only an introductory price to get you interested, and in a few months when they’ve built up a consumer base, they’ll jack the prices up?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ve had both kinds of barbecue and this was Korean. You could easily just eat the sushi here. There were at least 15 different kinds.. They also had sausage where you cut a piece off a long roll -German? Polish? Clams casino. Stuffed mushrooms. I didn’t see any cheese. I’m pretty sure Confucius never ate so many different flavors of Jello. That was invented in Western NY.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I thought of that. But what could they raise the price to? 8.99? 10.99? This is a pretty conservative area. Most people don’t want to pay more than $8 for lunch.

I regularly go to a sushi restaurant and pay $32 ($40 with tip) for a ‘Sushi for 2’ . The place is small, has a tiny bathroom that is nowhere near as clean – but it does have character, I guess.
I feel they are doomed.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@worriedguy Where is this? What city/state? What is it surrounded by – is it in a mall? Strip mall? Downtown? Is the price the same for dinner? I know lots of Indian restaurants have GREAT buffet prices because most people don’t have time for lunch, and so they get to offer something they’ll never have to deliver on (at least in any substantial way) and then they can charge $12 per entrée (which most people will order several of, plus appetizers, drinks, desert, etc) and make the money that way. The people who do come in for the $8 lunch don’t really eat a whole lot anyway – a coke and a few bites before they have to get back to the office.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is in Rochester NY in a small strip mall. Next to a Harbor Freight a.k.a. the Chinese Tool Store.

I just checked. It was $10.99 for dinner. I might have to go back for ‘further investigation’.
I can’t figure it out… There has to be something nefarious going on. But what?

Haleth's avatar

They must be making up for it with high volume or low-cost. I worked at a pizza place that did a $5.99 lunch buffet. Even though it was cheap, the place was always packed. We usually turned over all the tables 3 times every lunch. (Which means, we got through 3 full seatings in each lunch service.) Most of the items offered were starchy fillers like pizza or low-cost basics like the salad bar. Beverages were extra; many restaurants make most of their profits on beverage.

Many customers only ate one slice of pizza or one small bowl of salad, but the price is so low that they still feel they’re getting a good value. On the other hand, the cost of food is really low (restaurants shoot for the cost of goods to be less than 50% of the meal; in this case it was probably even lower than that.) The cost of beverages to the restaurant is very low, so every time a customer buys a soda or a coffee it bumps up the profit margin by a substantial amount.

downtide's avatar

Round where I live, the cheap buffet places include only the food in the price of the meals. But they have a big markup on drinks, even non-alcoholic ones.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I just had water. The total bill for 2 came to $15.10. Incredible.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You’ll be going back, and telling everyone you know. Heck, if I’m ever in Rochester, I’ll make a point to stop by. The one near me is priced that way. Mine does a big business in low cost banquets. It would make one heck of wedding reception on the cheap.

filmfann's avatar

The mall has Todai , but the price is about $15 for lunch. I have no idea how the place you are going to survives, unless they are improvising on the menu. Have you noticed a decrease in the local Cat population?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@BarnacleBill For sure I will go back. But if they lose money on every visit that’s not a good business model

@filmfann Now that’s a good market strategy. They could have a tie in with Lollipop Farm. Lollipop charges for the burial and disposal while giving ti to the buffet. Maybe that’s what’s in the sausage. ;-)

BarnacleBill's avatar

@worriedguy, that’s beginning to sound like an extension of the cat ranch in PG Wodehouse’s short story, “Buttercup Day.” :-)

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