Midi Libre

Les grands Buffets Journal Midi libre

Enter behind the scenes at the Grands Buffets de Narbonne !
We go to the Grands Buffets of Narbonne, where everything is at will, foie gras, oysters and lobster included. Midi Libre makes you discover the backstage of a place in full summer overheating ...
One keeps an eye on the ice creams and the renewal of the plates. I wish you a good service, thank you all. "It is almost 11:30, and the Grands Buffets are getting ready to receive the first customers of the day, who are already waiting. All have booked, sometimes for a long time, to access this amazing restaurant that fills up all year in Narbonne and seems to defy all economic logic.
A unique formula: € 32.90 per meal, with everything you want: eight kinds of foie gras, lobster, turbot, oysters. But also all the dishes of traditional French cuisine: andouillette, pig's foot, suckling pig, quails, kidneys, bone marrow, tournedos Rossini. Not to mention the 70 wines of Occitania, by the glass, or the bottle, served at table at the purchase price in the vault.
A well-established team
And if we remain here modest on the figures, it is yet hundreds of guests come every day. "If you're looking for a table in less than a month, it's almost impossible in the summer," admits Louis Privat, the owner of this restaurant opened in 1989, and inventor of this unique concept. "Even if we do not have the seasonality of a classic restaurant, which is going to be in a sprint from 14 July to 20 August. It's summer in the same gauges as during weekends in winter or school holidays: we have a culture of high level of activity. "
With a team run-in: "Some have twenty or twenty-five years of house." And a social policy to which he keeps, to retain as much as possible: "Even in the summer, our waiters have two days and a half rest a week. "But there is no question of turning the thumbs: each manages 45 places, while in the modern kitchens and very equipped, from 8 pm, there are busy seven production cooks and four pastry cooks. In the service, there are seven other cooks at the rotisserie, where you grill and flame under your eyes meats and fish.
 "A culture of home-made"
"We have a home-made culture," explains this former accountant, a wise entrepreneur, a great art lover and who is able to live six months a year far from his company. "We make our own rust, our aïoli and the customer is not mistaken." He was one of the first to launch the integral buffet, declined at the level of a restaurant, while preserving The spirit of the French festive meal, with white tablecloth and silver covers.
Today, he says to himself at the head of the biggest restaurant of France, outside Paris for the number of meals served. "What makes the business model work is success. The principle of the buffet is that we know the price at the plate only after the meal. But what is valuable is that the statistics are reliable: I have no problem of profitability but I have a low margin. "
A low margin over many meals: a principle opposite to the economic model of traditional catering, where the margin is all the more important as the product served is expensive. "In the traditional trades, it is sometimes necessary to change lighting," insists Louis Privat. "It makes it possible to see things ... or not." It's 1:15 pm, and the ranks are clearing up around the buffets. Even if the guests continue to arrive. Smiles: "Hello and welcome to the Grand Buffets. You booked ?"