Buffet Chains Look to Reposition With Future Clouded By Coronavirus

America's biggest buffet chains are trying to reinvent the wheel in the face of the raging pandemic ... searching for new ways to feed folks while keeping everyone safe.

Five of the largest buffet restaurant chains in the country tell TMZ they're changing with the times and rolling out new features to bring in patrons.

Golden Corral says it's serving guests cafeteria-style, with cooks loading up customers' plates with as much grub as they desire. The new service model eliminates the need for guests to touch utensils.

A rep tells us GC is also serving "family-style" meals, where large platters of food are delivered to guests sitting at their table ... a stark contrast from the golden age of Golden Corral.

The buffet chain, which says it's slowly reopening restaurants on a case-by-case basis to comply with various state and local guidelines, is also implementing new social distancing measures -- including floor markers, table spacing, and drink delivery to tables.

Golden Corral also says it's continuing to wipe down all guest touchpoint areas every half hour, check employees' temperatures, and install new hand sanitizer stations.

The GC in Abilene, Texas is already open for biz under the new look ... and an employee at the restaurant tells us the new initiatives make them feel safer at work.

The ever-familiar HomeTown, Old Country, Country and Ryan's Buffet chains are also changing the way they do business so they don't end up like Souplantation, which closed for good due to COVID-19.

Jason Kemp, cofounder of Food Partners, which owns and operates all 4 buffet chains, tells TMZ ... honchos are busy working on a new concept that will revolutionize the buffet industry.

Food Partners says it's gonna completely change how people enjoy all-you-can-eat restaurants ... so prepare for more big changes at buffets.

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