While undoubtedly to some extent the format will appeal to gluttons, in reality, as I have argued before, people have for various reasons become more choosy with their food and are increasingly frustrated by the conventional combinations dictated to them by standard menus. The key appeal of all-you-can-eat is not so much quantity as freedom of choice. Indeed, given the excessive portion sizes in many conventional eateries, it’s likely that some of the customers of all-you-can-eat venues actually value the fact that they only need to select as much as they want, and they don’t end up being embarrassed by leaving substantial quantities on their plate, so in fact end up eating less, not more. This point is reinforced in this article where Whitbread manager Simon Ewins says Taybarns orders the same amount of chips for 8,000 meals a week as the previous pub ordered for 2,000. Probably a lot of those chips with the 2,000 meals were left on the plate.
Taybarns may not be a gourmet’s paradise, but I suspect it’s here to stay. However, might we see in the future the all-you-can-eat concept attracting the same kind of Righteous indignation that all-you-can-drink does?