Though the closure started as a pandemic measure, BC Ferries has now announced the Pacific Buffet will be closed permanently.
According to a release, when it was open the buffet was losing the company $1.2 million annually, due to the seven staff per sailing required to run it.
Price modelling done by the company found that even a 30 per cent price hike would continue to lose the company money, due to increased cost of food and labour.
“The food industry has been significantly challenged by the pandemic; fewer food suppliers, supply chain unreliability, new attitudes about food safety and waste as well as record high food costs have forced all businesses to rethink their strategies,” said Nicolas Jimenez, BC Ferries CEO.
“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.”
To determine what will replace the buffet, the company has launched a survey that will be open for three weeks for customers to say what they would like to replace it. The goal is to open the new amenity in the fall or winter of 2023.
Until then, the space will be open as extra seating during the busy summer travel months.
On BC Ferries’ website, it says the goal is to open a new food amenity that requires fewer staff.
The company says it has explored a few alternatives, including a sports bar, which doesn’t align with the brand; an on-board casino, but the regulatory burden is “intense”; a wedding and private reception space, but there isn’t enough demand; or a gym and spa, but customer feedback isn’t favourable enough.
The Pacific Buffet first closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.