Many Improvements at the Levittown, NY Old Country Buffet

I have said many times on this site that the manager and employees can make or break a buffet restaurant and that has been so true at the Levittown, New York Old Country Buffet since it opened many years ago. I have written many times about this buffet - mainly in the negative - but there have been some significant changes over this past winter and they coincide with a change in the general manager.


The general manager who is now at the Levittown OCB had been one of the secondary managers of the Bay Shore, New York Old Country Buffet. He had been there since at least when one of the best buffet managers we have ever encountered (I have written about that manager referring to him as "Mr. Smiley" in past articles) and it is my opinion that under that tutelage this manager, himself, became an excellent manager. He is now at Levittown OCB with his name on the front door as General Manager and he has taken what had been what has been referred to as the "worst OCB" to one that is improvingly good.

I have said in the past that I would never go back to the Levittown OCB, but this rough Long Island winter made traveling to the Bay Shore OCB too difficult and I found myself one night deciding to go back to Levittown. What a surprise when we went inside - first seeing who was the manager and then seeing how things had changed. We have been back numerous times since then and have noted continued improvement. Now, I am not talking about the food selections as that is completely in the hands of Corporate that seems now to completely dictate the menu - and we spoke about this in our last article.

So what is different. For one thing there is a change in the cleanliness of the dining room. The floors (carpets) that were rarely kept clean in the past are now clean. Of course, a busy day can take its toll on the floors around and under the tables of the best buffet restaurants, but an effort is being made to keep these floors now clean.

In the past, food trays would sit empty for hours - and when something came out to replace the empty tray, it would often have a very dis-similar item, for example, rolls for a meat entree. We have seen fairly consistently that if a meat entree runs out, a different meat entree is brought out if the original is not available. We have seen ongoing supervision of the buffet tables and orders sent into the kitchen that items were about to run out and needed replacing. Some items still take a long time to come out, but eventually they do come out - and a few times we have seen another item that is ready come out quickly to that spot while the item to be replaced is being cooked and eventually is back out. This is a big improvement here.

One thing that we immediately noticed when we first came back was that many of the people who had been working here in the past were gone and replaced with workers that actually seemed to care about what they are doing - and made an effort to get their jobs done and communicate clearly with the customers (which had been a big problem here in the past). I often observed in the past that what the Levittown OCB needed was a clean sweep of staff and that is almost what has taken place here. One other thing is that one of the better table staff from Bay Shore was brought here and appears to be (though I do not know this for sure) to be overseeing the rest of the table staff while he is also taking care of tables. Good manager plus good employees equal good buffet.

A good manager needs to be seen in the dining room and around the buffet and that is now happening here. He talks with the guests. He pays attention to what is going on. All so very much needed here and happening now.

Now, is all of this consistent? It is fairly consistent, but I have also observed that it is still somewhat dependent upon this manager being on duty - and, of course, the guy has to have a day or night off sometime. When he is not there, some things slip back - though not completely back. Also when new table people are starting, clearing of tables can get lax - but that now seems to be the exception and not the norm - as it once was. We have been here on extremely busy nights - and while it was an effort for the kitchen to keep up with getting more food out - the table was taken care of as it should be. But there has been the occasional night - our most recent, as a mater of fact was one - when the buffet was not crowded and a new table server was letting the dishes pile up on the table (ours and others) much too high - getting there eventually to clear what had become a tall stack way - but it should never have gotten to that point, especially given the few tables in this section with diners. We had never seen this server working here before - hopefully this server gets the idea, and if not, is gone. I rather hope this employee gets the idea, improves, and stays.

Things are definitely better at the Levittown OCB. We decided one night to go back to Bay Shore and were very disappointed that the food was not being replaced and the selections were less than what we have been experiencing in Levittown.While one time we would have felt going to Levittown was a mistake, on this return to Bay Shore we felt that going there was a mistake.

My hope is that Corporate recognizes how well improved this location is BUT does not take this great manager away and move him elsewhere - which has happened in the past. And secondary management here needs to learn from this man and follow both his manner with customers and attention to what is going on.

Congratulations to the new manager and his staff! Keep up the good work! (And I'll bet there are a lot of our readers who thought that they would never read that here about the Levittown OCB!)