B.C. Ferries' Pacific Buffet to go the way of the Sunshine Breakfast

Ferries buffet gone for good

Brace yourself. It’s over. For good.

Just like the beloved Sunshine Breakfast before it, the Pacific Buffet — which shut down during the pandemic — will not return, B.C. Ferries announced Tuesday.

The company is now looking for suggestions on what to do with the space, with an online survey open for the next three weeks.

“I know the hard decision to permanently close our buffets will be disappointing to those who used and loved them, but the timing is right to re-think the space based on what our customers tell us,” said Nicolas Jimenez, chief executive of B.C. Ferries.

The company said it hopes to introduce a more “sustainable offering” this fall after hearing from the public.

Until a decision is made, additional seats will be available in the former buffet space on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route during summer.

If your memories of the Pacific Buffet are hazy — after all, it’s been closed since March 2020 — it had comfortable, spacious seating in a room with fabulous views.

It was a peaceful haven offering a variety of dishes — baron of beef and a wide variety of hot and cold entrées, if memory serves — and a dessert table children loved.

But it turns out it was a big money-loser, to the tune of $1.2 million every year, said B.C. Ferries.

Jimenez noted the food industry has been “significantly challenged” by the pandemic, with fewer food suppliers, an unreliable supply chain, new attitudes about food safety and waste, and record-high food costs.

In the final year the buffet operated, it sold 432,307 meals on three vessels, representing less than nine per cent of the route’s more than 4.8 million customers.

Modelling found the buffet would keep on losing money even if prices were boosted by 30 per cent, thanks to higher food and labour costs, the company said. Prices in March 2020 ranged from $21.50 for an adult breakfast to $26.95 for an adult roast beef dinner.

B.C. Ferries introduced full hot buffets in 1979. Premiers and cabinet ministers would belly up to the buffet, along with celebrities such as the band NSYNC, Ice -T and Tom Cochrane.

Past ideas to replace the Pacific Buffet that didn’t fly included a sports bar, casino, wedding and private reception space, and gym and spa.

Another issue with the buffet is that it requires seven crew members per sailing — at a time when an employee shortage has already resulted in many sailing cancellations.

To take part in the survey, go to tinyurl.com/59h52dfs

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