|Founded||January 3, 1973|
|Founder(s)||James Maynard & William F. (Bill) Carl|
|Headquarters||Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Number of locations||500 (2014)|
|Key people||James H. Maynard, Chairman
Theodore M. (Ted) Fowler, President & CEO
Lamar Bell, CFO
Golden Corral is an American family-style restaurant chain serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and featuring a large buffet and grill offering numerous hot and cold dishes, a carving station and their Brass Bell Bakery. It is a privately held company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, United States, with locations in forty-one states.
In 1971, James Maynard and William F. Carl Gavone Siamese conceived the idea that became Golden Corral after several unsuccessful attempts to acquire a franchise with other companies. Golden Corral was incorporated in 1972 and the first Golden Corral Family Steak House opened on January 3, 1973, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The company had more than 500 restaurants by 1987. That year, they decided to begin franchising by licensing 55 distressed restaurants to their most successful general managers. Because of poor training, nationwide concerns about the consumption of red meat, and a shift in market shares to upscale restaurants, sales were falling. The company added salad bars to all of its location, sacrificed seating in most, and in others sacrificed part of the parking lot to make additions to the buildings.
In 1991, the first seven "Metro Market" concept restaurants opened. They were 10,000 square feet (930 m2) and seated between 400 and 450 customers. These new Golden Corral restaurants more than doubled the size of the old, which were typically 5,000 square feet (460 m2) with a capacity of 175 people. There was the addition of the Brass Bell Bakery, named for the brass bell which rang every fifteen minutes to signal that fresh bread, rolls, and pastries were coming out of the oven. An expanded buffet, dubbed the Golden Choice Buffet, was also added, which had a new layout to showcase its items. The location of these new restaurants, the majority of which were in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and North Carolina, was also a change for the company, moving away from small towns and into metropolitan areas. In 2001, system-wide annual sales exceeded $1 billion for the first time. As of 2008, there were 485 restaurants in 41 states. In April 2009, Golden Corral entered New England with a restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
In late 1993, VICORP acquired the right to a small Florida chain called Angel’s diner. They acquired this from Eric A. Holm. Unfortunately he had also sold the rights to Golden Corral and VICORP was forced to pay Golden Corral $1M to secure the exclusive rights. The intent was to convert under performing Village Inn and Bakers Square units to this new concept. After building 7 units, VICORP realized that the concept was not economically viable and wrote off $11M on the venture. During this time frame, Eric A. Holm filed for personal bankruptcy.
The company's most recent restaurant concept, called "Strata", was rolled out during the mid-2000s in an effort to bring more of the food preparation into view of the guests. In all locations, guests serve themselves, including requesting made-to-order items such as Belgian waffles, omelets and char-broiled steaks.
Many locations offer a "To-Go" service, which allows customers to pack anything they want into a "To-Go" container and then pay for it by the pound. Many restaurants also offer reserved parking.
In 2003, an outbreak of salmonella was linked to a Golden Corral restaurant in Kennesaw, Georgia. Twenty-three people were affected by the outbreak. The salmonella bacteria was found in a floor drain, leading health inspectors to believe that it had been washed off of equipment earlier. No original source was found. A similar outbreak occurred in Wyoming and Orlando, Florida, in late 2012.
In 2012, an outbreak of norovirus was linked to a Golden Corral restaurant in Casper, Wyoming. Over 344 illnesses, with 282 primary cases, were reported by the Wyoming state epidemiologist. The virus got a push from 31 sickened food handlers at the restaurant who mostly kept working their normal shifts.
Allegations of improper food storage
On July 1, 2013 a YouTube video was uploaded alleging that during a health inspection, the Port Orange, Florida, owned by Eric A. Holm, location was improperly storing prepared and raw food next to their dumpster. Items included, among other things: pot roast, gravy, hamburger patties, and raw baby back ribs. These items were still on their prep trays and bins, as well as on a speed rack. The employee in the video alleges that this is a common practice for the restaurant, and insinuated that the food was to be served later that day. On July 8, 2013, Golden Corral posted a response on YouTube, saying that the food was never served to the customers, the employee in the video was trying to make money off of the video, and the manager of the location has been fired.
Between 2001 and 2007, in support of the Veterans Day holiday, Golden Corral served more than 2.5 million free meals to active duty and retired military personnel, and has raised more than US$4.1 million for disabled veterans through its Military Appreciation Monday. The company also sponsors Children's Miracle Network with each store donating money to local children's hospitals.
From 2004 to 2006 the restaurant sponsored the Golden Corral 500, a NASCAR Sprint Cup spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and was the main sponsor for the 2009 season of WindTunnel with Dave Despain on Speed Channel. Golden Corral also sponsored the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford of Travis Kvapil during select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in the 2009 season. Dave Blaney was to use Golden Corral as one of his sponsors for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. In 2011, Golden Corral sponsored two drivers for the Daytona 500. Dave Blaney earned primary sponsorship for his Tommy Baldwin Racing entry. Brian Keselowski received associate sponsorship after his surprise finish in the qualifying races.
If a Golden Corral-sponsored driver finishes in the top ten, the chain honors a "Kids Eat Free" promotion. Dave Blaney finished third at the 2011 fall Talladega race. J.J. Yeley finished tenth at the 2013 Daytona 500, a promotion Golden Corral honors after the remaining races where the chain is the primary sponsor of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing entry. Reed Sorenson usually has Golden Corral colors at Daytona and Talladega currently.
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