Clear your plate or face a fine

Why this all-you-can-eat buffet charges for leftovers

Taza Indian restaurant

All-you-can eat buffets often turn into all-you-can leave arrangements, as diners pile their plate high and struggle to finish their food. Now one restaurant has got so sick of all the waste that it has introduced a new rule: if you leave too much on your plate, you'll be fined £2.

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The Taza Indian Buffett in Dundee said it was sick of throwing away around 94 stone of uneaten food each week, so it is issuing a four-inch square piece of card with menus. Diners are warned that if their leftovers don't fit within the square, they will face the fine.

It reads: "If your waste fills this space and it won't fit in your face then it is £2 per plate...and no stacking it up into a pyramid."

The Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that food waste has become more of an issue for restaurants in the past two years, after rules in Scotland were changed to require food waste from large restaurants to be recycled. As a result, private companies started charging restaurants to take it away.

The manager said that they had started by asking people to take small amounts initially to try dishes, and then go back for more if they wanted it, but while some people changed their habits, others continued to leave plates full of food.

As a result, it decided to bring in the cards a few weeks ago. It said the response had been largely positive, and in the seven weeks it had been in operation they had only issued the charge three times.

Unusual rules

Restaurants running all-you-can-eat buffets have a couple of issues to get around - from food waste to people who come in starving and eat a fortune in food. Different establishments have come up with some unusual rules over the years.

There are a number with a surcharge in place if you leave too much on your plate, including one Chinese restaurant with a £20 surcharge for leftovers. It hit the headlines after one woman complained she was charged after leaving "two onion rings, a piece of prawn toast and a spring roll".

Sushi restaurants in particular tend to charge diners for leaving leftover rice, to stop them from picking apart their sushi and only eating the expensive bits. One Chinese-Mongolian restaurant in North Rhine-Westphalia, meanwhile, will even weigh your leftovers, and anything more than 100g will attract a fine.

Others worry more about people eating too much. They don't tend to impose rules, but will keep their eye out for repeat offenders. In 2012, two men in Brighton were banned from Gobi, a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant, for eating too much. They were regulars, and could easily get through five bowls of stir-fry in one sitting. The manager decided after two years that enough was enough, and the two men would have to be banned.

A restaurant in India came up with an unusual solution this. We reported recently on People & Co restaurant in Gurgaon in India which has started to charge by the minute. The unusual pricing structure ensures people stop eating when they are full, and keep the tables turning over. It admitted it only suffers when speedy eaters with big appetites come through the doors.

Various rules seem to do the trick, but it seems that success lies in making things clear up-front. When a Wisconsin fish restaurant simply called a halt to one man's buffet after he ate 12 pieces of fish, he was so angry that he refused to pay. They relented and said he could have eight more pieces, but he refused on the grounds that this wasn't technically all he could eat, and he went on to picket outside the restaurant.

But what do you think? Should there be limits on all-you-can eat? Or should restaurants deliver on the overall promise that you should be able to eat whatever you want? Let us know in the comments.

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