BC Ferries passengers will be disappointed to hear that the Pacific Buffet will be permanently gone from its ships, but the company is looking for feedback on what comes next.
BC Ferries has launched a survey looking for feedback. The online survey will be open for three weeks. Based on travellers’ feedback, a “new, more sustainable, offering is expected to be introduced to customers this fall” on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route, said a news release.
BC Ferries was initially forced to suspend the Pacific Buffet in March 2020 due to health safety regulations relating to the spread of COVID-19.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
In the meantime, the buffet dining room will be open to provide customers extra seating during the peak summer travel season. Food and beverage services will remain available in the Coastal Café, Seawest Lounge and Arbutus Coffee Bar through the peak summer season.
Pre-pandemic, the buffet required seven staff members per sailing, or more than 80 crew in total and lost approximately $1.2 million annually, said BC Ferries.
“Price modelling found the buffet would continue to lose money even with a price hike of up to 30 per cent due to the increased costs of food and labour,” said a news release. “In the last year the Pacific Buffet operated, it attracted less than nine per cent of the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route’s 4.87 million passengers.”