Restaurant Adds Surcharge For All-You-Can-Eat Customers Who Don’t Clear Plate

“All you can eat” isn’t an open invitation to waste food. That’s the message that one Swiss restaurant is trying to drive home to its lunch buffet customers by charging extra to diners who fail to clear their plates.

Sick of seeing people buffet customers fill up their plates with food only to leave it uneaten, the owner of the restaurant decided to add a surcharge of 5 Swiss francs ($5.62) for patrons who don’t finish everything on their dishes.

“I wanted to send a strong signal,” he explains, according to The Local. “It made me sick to see so much food being thrown out.”

The president of the regional federation of restaurateurs, supports the plan, saying, “It’s perfectly legal, and for me a good way of combating waste.”

As Eater.com points out, this isn’t the first restaurant to try this sort of surcharge. One restaurant in the U.K. tacks on £20 ($33.66) for buffet customers who don’t finish up.

Disputes over “all you can eat” deals are unfortunate but not uncommon.

In 2011, a man in L.A. sued a sushi restaurant for cutting him off because he wasn’t eating any of the rice in his “all you can eat” sushi dinner; just picking off the fish and eating it on its own. The restaurant pointed out that sushi is not sushi without the rice, and that this man was trying to get away with enjoying an “all you can eat” sashimi platter.

Then in 2012, a Wisconsin diner called the police to complain that, after eating 12 pieces of fish in a single sitting, he had been cut off from eating his fill at an “all you can eat” fish fry. And even though the restaurant gave him another eight pieces after that, he still came back two days later to protest in the parking lot.

That same year, a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to three months of house arrest after punching another buffet customer in the face over a dispute involving who took the last of the crab legs.

Perhaps we should add “The Buffet Abuser” to our list of Bad Consumers who ruin things for the rest of us?

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  1. StevenB says:

    I think their reaction is overkill. Seriously, if you’re gonna offer an “all you can eat” setup, then expect dishes with left over food on them. To me, its part of the package. At the very least, have the people take a take home box or something instead of making themselves look like douchebags by charging fees.

  2. Saber says:

    There’s a buffet in Pgh that’s like this – you get charged $2-5 (depending on the amount of food) for what’s left on your plate. They’ve been doing this for a few years, now.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      See, doing it by the amount makes a little more sense. I know this sounds crazy, and itprobably would be impossible to implement, but I would be OK with a weight-based system, especially if they didn’t charge for the first X ounces. I know that at these places I often try a scoopful of a dozen different things on the first round, and sometimes I only need a taste to tell that I don’t like it. Then I go back for more of the ones I liked…and maybe some more sampling.

      The real problem is that if they don’t have a small allowance for which the customer is not charged, they’re kind of telling customers “if you suddenly find for whatever reason that you are uncomfortably full, we expect you to stuff yourself to the point of discomfort to avoid additional charges”. Just because some customers are inconsiderate, that doesn’t excuse them being inconsiderate to all of their customers. That’s what a lot of these rules that retailers and other vendors post amount to.

      • Saber says:

        *nod* They’re fine with little things left on their plate – like one or two things – but when it’s half a plate, that’s when the fee is invoked. I personally have never had a problem with it, and I’m sure it cuts down on food waste – they actually donate a lot of their leftover/non-served food to nearby food kitchens, so they win out, too!

        As for the article above, yeah. Without any leeway (like the place near me I mentioned) then it’s kind of a dick move. :(

  3. Cara says:

    I’m generally okay with this setup, but I dislike it when it punishes the customer for something that was the restaurant’s fault. IE, if I order a steak medium, and I receive something that is well done, I’m not going to eat it – and it would be unfair for them to charge me extra for not eating it when it’s not what I wanted. Or, if I get something that tastes horribly, isn’t cooked enough, etc (this weekend we got some steamed carrots that looked good, but realized when we got to the table that they were barely cooked and still rock hard).

    I also think that if a restaurant is going to charge you extra for uneaten food, they should allow you to take that food home – it seems unfair to not only charge you more, but to then throw it out. I know that buffet-style restaurants don’t want to allow you to take food home in general, but if they’re going to charge you extra, shouldn’t that make it okay?

  4. SirJanes says:

    I still recall with amusement a time at a Sizzler in SLC where a number of high school football players had ordered all-you-can-eat ribs. They had consumed many dozen ribs and insisted upon more. The Sizzler did not have any more ribs. After considerable kerfuffle management wrote off their bills and they got free meals in exchange for leaving.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Sizzler is lucky they got them out when they did. At that age I would have eaten all of the toppings from the loaded baked potato bar if the food didn’t come fast enough. :D

  5. CommonC3nts says:

    Simpsons did it.