Royal Fork Buffet closing after more than 30 years of business
Customers at Royal Fork Buffet in Kildonan Crossing are loading up their plates with food for what could be the last time.
The well-known buffet-style restaurant announced it will be closing its doors for good by Dec. 21.
“We found out a week ago,” said Alma Frenkow, assistant manager of Royal Fork Buffet. “Our reaction is (we are) very sad, along with the customers, especially our regulars.”
Frenkow said in March of 2020 the restaurant was forced to close for dine in due to COVID-19 restrictions.
With the exception of a brief reopening in the summer of 2020, they could only offer take out until being allowed to fully reopen in July of 2021.
She said the restaurant is only doing 20 per cent of the business it used to before the pandemic, but prior to COVID lockdowns they were a very busy buffet.
“We were lined up to the door, and everybody had to wait for about an hour just to get a table.”
Another buffet-style restaurant in Winnipeg is Mongo’s Grill, where customers can build their own stir-fry’s that are grilled to order.
Regional Manager, Russ Hart said when COVID-19 hit, the restaurant had to change how they operated.
“We had to definitely ramp up our online presence, created our own online ordering platform, and rolled that out quicker than ideal, but it was something we had to do to stay relevant.”
The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association said Royal Fork Buffet was a long-standing operation, and a staple in that area of the city.
Executive Director and CEO, Shaun Jeffrey said all restaurants in the province have suffered during the pandemic, but buffet-style restaurants were hit even harder.
“(Buffet’s) were closed for even longer,” said Jeffrey. “It’s very hard to run an operation when you don’t know what your future looks like, and with us still sitting in the middle of the pandemic, and still facing restrictions, it’s really hard to gauge what your business is going to look like.”
Jeffrey said many restaurants have pivoted to options like take out, take and bake, and delivery just to stay afloat during COVID restrictions.
He said restaurants in the province are facing multiple challenges right now including staffing shortages, supply chain management, and the rising cost of food.
Frenkow said she’s going to miss working at Royal Fork Buffet, the staff, and the customers.
“It‘s very sad because there’s about 30 employees that are out of a job.”
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