Have you ever been to the Best Buffet in the USA? Probably not since the nearest location of the place that bills itself that is about 4 hours away in Wisconsin. Soon that drive will be cut in half.
Golden Corral announced last week that it plans to enter the Minnesota market after decades of waiting when their newest location opens in August in Maple Grove, a second location will open in Maplewood in October. Both locations will open in former Old Country Buffet spaces.
Old Country Buffet is largely what kept Golden Corral out of Minnesota. The buffet chain was the second largest buffet chain in the United States and began in Minnesota in 1983. It's tough to take a company's home turf.
That was until last year when parent company Ovation Brands filled for bankruptcy and closed over 100 locations across the country. The closings brought the total number of locations for the company down to 127, a relatively low number compared to the 347 locations that were open just a few years prior.
GROWTH IN MINNESOTA
We spoke with Dale Maxfield about the future expansion of Golden Corral in Minnesota. He knows what's in store (literally and figuratively) as he is the franchisee who is responsible for the openings of the Maple Grove and Maplewood Golden Corral locations.
Dale is a Minnesota resident and is by no means a stranger to the buffet business. In 1990 he became the VP of Operations for none other than Golden Corral's competitor, Old Country Buffet. He stayed in that position for 15 years and exited the company in 2006 just two years prior to Old Country Buffet filing their first bankruptcy.
Today Dale owns four Golden Corral locations in Indian, Iowa, and Nebraska.
While the locations in Maple Grove and Maplewood will both open in less than 90 days, there are already more locations in the works. Potential future locations elsewhere in the state include Rochester and Woodbury where Old Country Buffet also previously had locations. The Twin Cities area could eventually become home to five more Golden Corral locations when all is said and done.
SO WHERE DOES DULUTH COME IN?
"I know the Duluth market and like it a lot" Dan told us when discussing if a Duluth location could be in the foreseeable future.
Duluth is for sure on the maps. In fact, Dale is very aware of the Twin Ports market and also very aware that at the moment it's buffetless (we're making that a word). Old Country Buffet's closed in June at the Miller Hill Mall being part of Ovation Brand's latest list of mass closures which included all the Old Country Buffet locations in Minnesota except one in Burnsville.
A VACANCY TO FILL
Old Country Buffet left a large retail space in the Miller Hill Mall vacant. Mall officials are certain the space will be filled quickly due to it's high visibility and also due to the large amount of continuous space (it's hard to find space at the mall these days).
Will Golden Corral take over the space as the company is doing elsewhere in the state? It's not in the plans now. "Duluth is a great market for Golden Corral and I will be searching for a location" Dan explained to us, however at the moment nothing has been leased within the market.
Golden Corral currently has four prototype designs with the smallest being a 7,751 square foot location with seating for 276 people and the largest being a 14,155 square foot location with seating for 520 guests. The smallest location would be the most likely to fit in the former Old Country Buffet space.
We will continue to monitor Golden Corral's expansion into Minnesota and their search for a suitable location in Duluth. To suggest a location for Golden Corral, contact us here.