When a restaurant advertises it's all-you-can-eat, does it really mean all you can eat?
Apparently, no. As George Dalmon and Andy Miles discovered, there is a limit, especially if you eat as much as they do. The two British men have been banned from Gobi restaurant in Brighton, England, after the owner accused them of being "a couple of pigs," according to The Telegraph.
As The Telegraph reports, the Mongolian barbecue restaurant invites customers to assemble dishes from its buffet "as many times as you wish," for 12 GBP, or about $19. But the manager, who declined to be named, told the newspaper the pair had been taking advantage of the deal for two years, and were eating the restaurant out of business.
"Basically, they just come in and pig out," the manager said, adding that the two diners habitually clear out the buffet before other customers have a chance.
Dalmon defended himself, saying the restaurant's bowls are so small, they have to keep going back for more to satisfy their appetities. He added the owner "went absolutely mental" when he notified them they were banned. "He said we were a couple of pigs and we were banned for life. I couldn't believe it," he told The Telegraph.
While online commenters debate whether the restaurant should uphold its all-you-can-eat promise, it may be worth questioning the merits of all-you-can-eat in the first place.
First, as Martin Caraher, professor of food and health policy at City University London, pointed out to the BBC, the all-you-can-eat model, which emerged out of the U.S. during the 1930s, encourages demand for "big portions, rubbish food."
"What we actually need is higher quality and people eating less," he said.
(A recent anti-obesity ad out of Minnesota was criticized for being too harsh, but its message – carried by two children boasting of how much their fathers can eat – does have a point. Is gorging really something to be proud of?)
Moreover, from an economic perspective, all-you-can-eat doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As Forbes magazine explained , it forces restaurants to set their price above what average customers eat. In theory, this then creates a vicious cycle, whereby anyone who eats less than what they're asked to pay no longer finds it a good value. Thus, only customers who eat more than the stated price will dine there, skewing the average all over again.
"This process continues, until there is only one guy left going to the buffet, and he eats $300 worth of fish and is charged exactly $300 for it." Forbes contributor Adam Ozimek, wrote. "In effect, this theory says that all-you-can-eat buffets should not exist."