Saddle Up! Golden Corral Coming Back to GF? (UPDATED)

First Denny’s, now Golden Corral?

It seems the buffet on 32nd Ave. S. will be reopening soon. Re-branded as the “Iron Kettle,” the place shuttered in late February. A sign on the door said it was closed due to “required maintenance.” No idea what this maintenance could be or why it would take nearly two months, but it does indeed look like the Corral is coming back.

And a few recent job postings seem to confirm it. They’re looking to hire a hospitality manager, kitchen manager and general manager. I also got a tip from “Big Guy” that the restaurant was taken over either by Golden Corral corporate or a Texas franchisee, but I couldn’t confirm that on Tuesday.

The Grand Forks Denny’s also closed up shop, but recently a few jobs were posted and on the application it said the owners were looking to re-open.

Golden Corral received a warm welcome in the area, considering there are no other American-style food buffets in Grand Forks beside the Royal Fork and Ponderosa, which are both no longer.

Spaghetti

But ever since a few months after opening, I’ve heard horror story after horror story about the place. It also got the lowest sanitary rating from the Health Department late last year.

Customer reviews cite cold, dried-out food, mushy pasta and neglectful service. One diner said the employees were rude, silverware not out, dirty dishes and poor food selection. Out of 20 reviews on UrbanSpoon, Golden Corral got an average of 2 stars.

The only bright spot about the restaurant re-opening is that it means more jobs for those who need them. But other than that, color me unenthusiastic.

Buffets are always hit and miss, and I usually try to avoid them. But my recommendation for a good buffet in GF would be the Panda Buffet on Columbia Road. The normal Chinese food offerings are there and are usually tasty, but the real selling point is the big, circular grill tended to by an expert cook with just a wooden stick.

You can choose from fresh vegetables and frozen meats to add, along with any combination of sauces. The cook throws the ingredients on the screaming hot grill and slides them around until they’re cooked. This has got to be the best way to eat vegetables, piping hot and picking up some of the flavor of the grill. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, what do you think of the possible re-opening of Golden Corral? Were you a fan?

UPDATE:

A person who seems to be in the know adds this:

What happened is the people/person who had the franchise agreement for the 3 Golden Corral locations in ND (Bismarck, Fargo, GF) got in a dispute with Golden Corral Corporate and tried to operate outside of the franchise/corporate agreements and not follow Golden Corrals corporate requirements. So the franchise owner got mad and the stores were all reopened as the Iron Kettles, well the quality suffered big time without Golden Corral Corporate overseeing things and all 3 locations closed down shortly after. Golden Corral took the franchise owners to court and got the stores back because of the franchise/corporate agreements that the previous franchise owners viloated. So Golden Corral corporate is now reopening all 3 locations. Bismarck opened last month, Fargo end of this month and GF probably the end of May. So I will give the place another shot, because you should definitely see an improvement all around.

We’ll see what happens.

52 thoughts on “Saddle Up! Golden Corral Coming Back to GF? (UPDATED)

  1. Re: Panda Buffet. We ate at Panda last week, and my son found several straight, black hairs in his food. We’re done with that place.

    • Both times I’ve eaten at Panda Buffet I’ve ended up throwing up in the parking lot right after leaving. Not my idea of good food.

      • Is Old Chicago still a possibility? I read in the Herald a while back that the company that owns both decided to go with the noodle restaurant instead of Old Chicago. Old Chicago would be a wonderful addition to the area. I don’t see a noodle shop lasting very long.

  2. I have always liked the Panda Buffet. Never had any problems. However, the Golden Corral was more like a pig pen. We were there one Sunday (against my better judgement) during the dinner hour. Mashed potatoes were gone as was the gravy – never replenished. A little girl was playing with the brownies – setting them on the floor then back on the tray in the desert buffet. There was what appeared to be chocolate pudding in the M&M ice cream topping (at least I hope it was pudding). Food all over the floor. A visit or two before that a heavy vent thingy fell on the grill just as a woman was reaching for a piece of steak – just about crushed her hand. I miss the Royal Fork. It was getting expensive, but at least the food was consistently good and they really tried to keep things clean.

    • Wow perfect way to look at negative here huh? Not your choice to go? Did you have a gun to your head? Anyway several complaint from you but you never left. You just want to compliant. Thats all im getting from you. Stop your whinning

  3. Glad to see GC is reopening and I always had a good experience at GC. This is my family’s choice of buffett in the Grand Cities area.. Super excited about them reopening..:)

  4. I have always loved Golden Coral, but the last few times I was there, it wasn’t up to par. Cold food! Hopefully it will be better this time around.

    As far as Panda, I was there recently and the food was cold, and not cooked through on some things.

    • To me,each and every time I went to GC ( which was at least once a week) the food and service was great. It did’nt start going down hill until it became the Iron Kettle, many people are confusing the two which is unfair to GC. Why they changed hands I don’t think we will ever know but I for one will be glad when GC returns. If you want a great place to eat, check out Pizza Ranch.

  5. We enjoyed Golden Corral because each of my 3 kids have different tastes. The food was very inconsistent in quality and it was normal to leave with an upset stomach. I will certainly return should they reopen. I hope they leave their problems behind or I won’t give them many more chances.

  6. Check your facts and ask around. Royal Fork closed mere months AFTER golden corral opened. And all those people who were loyal patrons of the royal fork who jumped onto the golden corral bandwagon are now wishing we had the royal fork back.

  7. I would think with 12 new apartments going up and 3 new hotels this summer that we’ll be getting a few more places. The space by the alerus center could use a few. You have soon to be 3 hotels icon, choice, and now black gold all in that area with more to follow. What about a champs sports bar or something similar.

  8. Dickey’s BBQ in the old Mi Mexico building when it was first announced it was reported that they were going to open in May but so far there has been no activity over there as far as remodeling and such. Wonder if they are still planning on opening in May?
    And what about the Casa Mexico restaurant in the old Tortilla Flats building? The sign has said “Opening Soon” since January. Every so often you see a trck over htere but that’s it. Any idea when they’ll open?

    • Wow! Didn’t Tortilla Flats close about five years ago? I liked the place, but that’s in such an out of the way place that the only way they’ll make it would be to at least have billboards on Highway 2 and a lot of local advertizing. That building has had about three diferent places try to make a go of it, but the location has just made them invisible without good advertizing…

  9. I liked Dennys and Golden Corral but what GF needs more then restaurants is companies that give people a living wage. If jobs aren’t available, then it’s no wonder both failed and Golden Corral’s succeccessor also failed.

  10. Royal Fork WAS great, until their price went up every month and the roast beef was served in three slices the width of paper. Golden Corral had some major issues about cleanliness and supply of food as said above. Grand Forks really has next to nothing in terms of restaurants besides franchises, fast foods, and bar and grills. People here seem to thrive on mediocrity, as does the Herald restaurant reviewer.

  11. If the golden corral does re-open I hope steve novak runs it, when he was one of the associate manager he did a very good job and the business was very busy from 2007-2009

  12. I sure hope one of the previous associate managers Steve Novak runs the place . When he ran it before it was busy and the food was terriffic.

  13. As for the Corral….They seemed pretty good at lunch until the last five months they were open and then they went down hill fast. Frankly I’d be surprised if they don’t do some major downsizing before they open. With the high cost of food nowdays they need a smaller and easier to manage buffet. When you have the huge variety they originally had I think it becomes clear very quickly that unless you can have a huge customer base all the time you’re going to have way too many expensive left overs…..I think that’s when it all went to hell…

  14. Restaurant selection in Grand Forks is sad. We lived for over 7 years, and we never found a great place to go. Occasionally, an awesome hole-in-the-wall locally owned place would open and the food would be amazing! Then the next time we would want to go they would be closed. I dont think GF supports restaurants unless they are chains (ie: Applebees or Ground Round).
    The Panda Buffett was decent if you liked that sorta thing; however we LOVED China Garden (i believe–located on 32nd across from Sams/Walmart). The staff was always friendly and you could get spicy food.
    We moved from GF 2 yrs ago, so I am sure a lot has changed. I dont miss the eating atmosphere though. It was quite sad for a college town of decent population!

  15. It’s only natural “The Golden Corral” closed for a while.
    They gotta clean out the corral every once in a while, you know.
    that’s how the whole cycle of life works…..
    Stuff happens. Piles up.
    But boy, we-all can’t wait for that corral gate to open again so we can gallop in, swept up on the smells and ambience of a golden corral: beef on the hoof, heck, maybe horse meat on the hoof;
    Now that’s rare meat.
    Hazy dust on the air, the cool, clean odor of hay,
    and then, the inevitable results of hay eaten in a corral. . .
    Yep. Makes my appetite go wild.

    Hey, hey, move aside, tryin’ to get in to the old feed trough.

    Wonder WHY the corral is GOLDEN, anyhoo?????

  16. Golden Corral was pretty darn good every time we went there. I loved everything at one place. As far as Panda, love that one too. They are always very good to my wife and I, and their mongolian grill is excellent! Make sure to get to the Grand Cities Mall and get some authentic Tex-Mex at Chacherz too….incredible!

  17. I wnder if they’re going to do more topics this way? Kind of nice to see more people respond once that silly “Like and Dislike” BS is taken away…..Especially if they do it on some of the hot topics….

  18. We lost our Golden Corral to the Black Kettel as well, but Golden Corral came back as a corporate store. Bismarck’s previous Golden Corral had the same issues as Grand Forks. But the corporate store is being run much better!

  19. Show me a restaurant that can’t stay in business, and I’ll show you a restaurant that has an incompetent manager.

    Yes, this town is saturated. Every time a new place opens up, another closes.

    Yes, it’s typically the bottom-of-the-barrel (in terms of management skill or ethics) restaurants that close. (True Story: Went to Jake’s–the now-under-different-management/ownership BBQ place on South Washington. We ate–mediocre food, mediocre atmosphere, nothin’ special. I’m getting ready to go, so I ask for the tab. THE WAITRESS BRINGS ME A DIET COLA. (Coca-Cola product–Tab.) You think I was surprised that the place couldn’t make it one year?)

    Pretty obvious why Golden Corral couldn’t make it. Don’t have to look any farther than the ownership of the place. Didn’t care about the food, didn’t care about the customer, didn’t care about the employees.

  20. I do like Panda Buffet, but once saw the grill guy sweat on my plate – gross! I always watch closely now when something’s cooking. The chicken in the peppered batter and the breaded shrimp in the sweet sauce are AMAZING!

    Golden Corral – where do I start? At first, I really liked it and would go there about every month or two. And then it just got worse and worse, to the point where we wouldn’t even eat most of the food on our plates. I still have memories of burned chili in the warming kettle and not a single employee caring enough to fix the problem. Several times, we had to bring our cups to the front for a refill because our server was MIA. The only bright spot was the cook-to-order seafood, but that wasn’t even available half the time. I think I’d try GC one more time after they reopen just to see if there are improvements, but if it’s more of the same, that will be that.

  21. What happened is the people/person who had the franchise agreement for the 3 Golden Corral locations in ND (Bismarck, Fargo, GF) got in a dispute with Golden Corral Corporate and tried to operate outside of the franchise/corporate agreements and not follow Golden Corrals corporate requirements. So the franchise owner got mad and the stores were all reopened as the Iron Kettles, well the quality suffered big time without Golden Corral Corporate overseeing things and all 3 locations closed down shortly after. Golden Corral took the franchise owners to court and got the stores back because of the franchise/corporate agreements that the previous franchise owners viloated. So Golden Corral corporate is now reopening all 3 locations. Bismarck opened last month, Fargo end of this month and GF probably the end of May. So I will give the place another shot, because you should definitely see an improvement all around.

  22. :Hay!
    If a restaurant calls itself “The Golden Corral,” what does that make those who
    EAT inside such a place?
    Or am I missing something?
    Are the eaters the ones standing around the OUTSIDE of “The Golden Corral,” one boot up on the first rail, checking out the stock runnin’ round inside the big circle, telling the cowboy swingin’ that big loop which aminal to cut out from the big remuda…..,
    Then what? They swing open the big gate and mosey on in to EAT it???

    YEE HA…. just makes my mouth water.and my belly rumble.

    And WHY is the corral GOLDEN?????

  23. As a former Golden Corral franchisee, I would definately agree with the comments regarding the Grand Forks Golden Corral ownership and management. Golden Corral is an incredibly difficult restaurant to operate and if ownership and management are not 100% committed guests will get less than a satisfactory product. Golden Corral as a company is very committed and dedicated to offering guests an overwhelming variety of great food at what I feel is a very reasonable price even in the face of increasing cost of food. Are they perfect? No, but give them a chance they try to do their best for guests and way more often than not succeed.

  24. I miss Ponderosa. Simple restaurant but just loved it. Spaghetti, tacos, chicken, salad etc.. All of the basics to fill up on while waiting for the burger or steak to show up. :) No Ponderosa’s or Bonanza’s here in Winnipeg anymore, hard to find any decent buffet anymore. Hopefully golden corral gets back in business otherwise no point in traveling to Grand Forks for the good food anymore, what else can you do after all the shopping but eat a good meal.

  25. Well I see you used the picture of spaghetti , I had taken the last time I was there. I had posted it on my facebook page…golden corral grand forks needs improvement…there were pics of other food that were nasty also…by the way I sure hope the new reopened restaurant becomes what Golden Corral is known for…good food, great service and great value.

  26. Golden corral open yet in grand forks? Was there was and it was great. I will travel from canada again when its open

  27. What’s the latest? Is it going to open soon? I was in town in July and still nothing. Has anyone heard. Used to eat at Texas GC’s and they were AMAZING!

  28. I was at the Golden Corrall in Fargo today. It’s behind a hotel and no signs point the way, so it was a little difficult for an out-of-towner to find.I was leery to go because of all the negative reviews, but my husband insisted.
    Having low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. It was clean.The servers were attentive. The food was fresh. While it isn’t haute cuisine (the rice in the “Chinese” section was boiled, not steamed), it was decent enough for the price.

  29. There seems to be some activity at the Golden Corral/Iron Skillet building. For the past week or so, there has been a large dumpster and remodel or demolition work going on. The sale sign is still up, but activity indicates that there could be a new tenant soon.

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