Is it time to say goodbye to the traditional Breakfast Buffet?

June 21st, 2020 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

The Eccles in Glengarriff will avail of its spacious dining room, rather than have a buffet pre-placed on its ‘baby grand’ as before.

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Hotels are reopening in a few weeks, but the breakfast buffet, as we know it, looks like a thing of the past. Emma Connolly asked some of West Cork’s hotels about their plans to get around what, for many guests, is a highlight of their stay.

Celtic Ross Hotel,


‘There will be a time allocation for each room – 45 minutes given to 10 bedrooms for those opting to dine in the breakfast room. And for those who are nervous, at no extra charge, we will deliver to the room in PPE or leave it at the door and knock.

An express ‘breakfast in a bag’ service will also be offered to be delivered to guest rooms so they can ‘eat on the go’.

While both cold and hot buffets will be laid out, both will be manned and under no circumstances can guests touch foods on display. For hot food, there is a full sneeze-hood and a member of the team will plate up for the guest, so no food is exposed to anyone but the server, who will have a visor and gloves, etc.

The continental breakfast will be individual bowls of fruit and yogurt, and pastries will be separate and the guest will complete a tick box list and the waiter will pick up and bring the items down to the guest. Orange juice will be poured, on demand.

All condiments will be replaced by single use sachets. Individual pens and pads will be used by each staff member, colour-coded to avoid potential cross-contamination.  Menus will be offered on guests’ own device or downloaded on an app. We will also try to put it on the projector on the wall. This way, no guest will have to touch a physical menu.’

West Cork Hotel,


‘We are lucky that we have so much floor space and we are hoping we will be able to lay out tables in our function rooms, restaurant, and outdoor areas to make a viable food business function. Breakfast is one of the most important meals in the building, it is the last thing that your guests will remember before they depart the hotel, so with this in mind we have always opted for a freshly prepared, cooked-to-order breakfast and nothing will change for us on this front.

The only difference we will see is our pastries, cereals, fruit, juice, cheese, yogurt, compotes etc, will now be served to the table and guests won’t be able to browse and select whatever takes their fancy.

There will be some changes to the way the food and beverage areas have operated in the past, but I think people will have no issues adapting to the ‘new normal’ and are looking forward to getting the chance to dine out and have human interaction and we are definitely looking forward to welcoming them in again.’

Fernhill House Hotel,


‘We serve our cooked breakfasts to order so losing the breakfast buffet will not affect us as much as other hotels. In West Cork we are lucky to have a fantastic array of craft food producers and as hotels we will have to get craftier ourselves. We will have to pivot to offering more room service and table service to help guests avoid communal contact. It might give us the opportunity to really convey some of our amazing local products through our menus, and guide guests to a West Cork experience. These are tough times but hopefully if we all work together and adapt we will get through it stronger than before.’

Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff:

‘After Eccles winning the Georgina Campbell award for best breakfast, it is going to be disappointing changing how we do things.

We will, unfortunately, lose the visual aspect of the cold buffet which was on top of a baby grand piano in the middle of the restaurant. It looked fantastic.

We imagine there will still be an element of a cold buffet, but everything will be pre-portioned eg cereals, yogurts, cheeses, hams, juices. Hot breakfast was previously made to order and this will remain.

Space-wise, this all depends on how many customers we are allowed to have. We have a large function room with beautiful light coming through the large windows where we are contemplating hosting breakfast.

At the end of the day, breakfast is all about the produce, our locally-sourced pudding, eggs, sausages along with Eddie’s (head chef) creativity and knowledge, and we have no doubt it will still be fantastic.’

Inchydoney Lodge & Spa:

‘Our breakfast buffet was iconic and an integral part of the guest experience.

In these changing times when it is no longer viable, we are confident that our a la carte breakfast menu will offer as much choice, seasonality and local produce as the buffet once did.

In addition, our breakfast team are a central element to the guest experience at Inchydoney. They are the first smiling face our guests see in the morning, their knowledge of West Cork, the outdoor activities and suppliers, as well as coastal drives and day trips in the area is encyclopaedic and we feel now that as guests will be ordering from them directly, they will have a wonderful opportunity to spend some time chatting with guests, advising them and helping plan their day.

We are sure that the visual variety and beautiful displays will be missed, but there is also something very attractive in the idea of sitting on your balcony, tucking into your breakfast.’

Blue Haven Hotel,


‘We have some radical new plans we are finalising at present in terms of dining options, including having breakfast in the luxury of your own room. We are working with the best technology available and with consultants in health and safety, so we can deliver a safe environment to enjoy with booths and sectioned off areas to enable social distancing.

Thankfully, we have large spaces and outdoor areas to work with. We are working with alternatives and our team have come up with some really innovative solutions. We look forward to welcoming our guests back again shortly and it will take us time to recover our business. Hospitality, like most industries, is going through radical change, and we have no option but to adapt our model so we can reopen, recover, stabilise and grow again.

Kinsale is a fabulous town and the start of the world-famous Wild Atlantic Way which, with the passage of time, will again thrive. We wish all our customers well and look forward to serving them safely again into the future.’

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