Business hotels in Seoul are slashing their buffet prices to lure customers amid sky-high inflation. All-you-can-eat buffets are being offered for W10,000 to W20,000 (US$1=W1,325).The Hotel Gracery in downtown Seoul offers a lunch buffet for W16,500 per person and the Stanford Hotel in Myeong-dong for W19,800, and white-collar workers are flocking to them.At the Crown Park Hotel in downtown Seoul the lunch buffet is W20,000, and at the Tmark Grand Hotel in Myeong-dong W29,000.According to restaurant information provider AHA Trend, online searches for "buffet" surged 102 percent on-year in the first four months of this year.
"People want to eat out again after lockdown but are looking for bargains, so we offer cheap buffets to attract them," a hotel staffer said. The same is true for family-oriented buffet restaurant chains. Ashley reduced outlets from 103 in 2018 to 59 in 2021, but average monthly sales per store rose from W210 million in 2019 to W330 million in the first quarter of this year. Now the chain wants to increase outlets to 80 again.Sales at CJ Foodville, which runs a number of buffet chains, fell from W890.3 billion in 2019 to W608.8 billion in 2021 but rebounded to W759.9 billion last year as the company closed outlets but spruced up the ones that are left.