Did You Sneak Food Out of Dartmouth’s Old Country Buffet?
Listen, it’s been four and a half years now. The statute of limitations has run out. It’s ok to admit it now.
Did you ever take food out of Old Country Buffet in Dartmouth, and if so – how did you do it?
During its heyday, the OCB was always packed with families at dinner time, often large groups that would scarf up all the good stuff as soon as it was brought to the buffet table. Remember standing there, fourth in line for the fresh batch of something to come out, only to see the first three people pile the entire pan onto their plates?
Of course, we all know the food wasn’t that great, but there was a lot of it. It was a place many people would go to simply to pig out. But for some, what they ate at the restaurant wasn’t enough. They had to find a way to take some of their favorites home with them.
One of the best parts of dinner at Old Country Buffet was the people-watching. You could scan the dining room and see an entire cross-section of the population of the SouthCoast on any given evening. We’re a hard-working and hungry people, and we can put away a lot of mediocre food.
I went to OCB a lot over the years; when I was in college at UMass Dartmouth, as a commuter, it was always a go-to lunch spot because you could have something different every day and also budget out exactly how much it was going to cost you. As I grew up and became a dad, it was an easy place to take my son for dinner because he could get all of his favorites – fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, tacos – all at the same time.
And do you know how hard it is to find an all-you-can-eat breakfast in the New Bedford area? Seriously. Take the family out for breakfast at most places on the SouthCoast and it’ll set you back way more than you expected, once everyone starts ordering sides of bacon and extra home fries and drinks three cups of orange juice with their meal.
But my favorite game to play whenever we went to Old Country Buffet was seeing all the different ways people would try to sneak out their favorite foods. The most common were the dinner rolls, which folks would just walk out carrying in their hands, no shame in their game. A few rolls for the road, no big deal.
Then there was the ice cream cone maneuver: when you’re getting ready to leave, you first get up and grab an ice cream cone from the dessert table, then you sit down with it and act surprised when the rest of your party is getting up to go. Oh well, I guess I’ll just take it with me, you say, knowing that was your intention all along.
People got creative and came up with their own food transportation systems. Usually, it was the napkin; drop a few country fried steaks into an open napkin, package it up, and walk out of there.
You could always tell who was sneaking out food by the door because they would stop and look around, as if someone was going to stop them and tell them to put it back. Dude, you took food from the buffet, put it on a plate and brought it to your table – nobody wants it now. It’s yours. Take it with you.
Yet for some people, the leftovers from their plate wasn’t enough. They would go up and get entire plates of food from the buffet for the sole purpose of sneaking it all home. I once saw someone put a whole bunch of beef ribs in a plastic shopping bag, and then stick that bag in her pocketbook. Then there was the lady who didn’t even bother with the plastic bag, and just dumped a plate of fried chicken directly into her handbag.
Let me just say, I’m not judging anyone. They could have been struggling financially, and going to Old Country Buffet was their way of filling up before they knew where their next meal was coming from. I get that, but I also know that you could feed yourself for a week with how much you spent on an Old Country Buffet dinner, if you are a smart shopper.
And I am sure somewhere in the bowels of the OCB kitchen, there were styrofoam take-out containers for someone that insisted on bringing home their leftovers. After all, it was only going in the trash anyway.
Like I said, Old Country Buffet closed back in 2016 and nobody’s going to bust you for it now. So be honest and tell us on our Facebook page if you ever took any food from the OCB and, if so, how you did it.