|Founded||January 3, 1973|
|Founder(s)||James Maynard & William F. (Bill) Carl|
|Headquarters||Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Number of locations||485 (2008)|
|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 40 states.2
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.3 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 an addition to the building.
In 1991, the first seven "Metro Market" concept restaurants opened. They were 10,000 square feet (930 m2) and seated between 400 and 450 guests. These new Golden Corral restaurants more than doubled the size of the old, which were typically 5,000 square feet (460 m2) with a guest capacity of 175. There was the addition of the Brass Bell Bakery, named for the brass bell which rang every 15 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.5 As of 2008, there were 485 restaurants in 41 states.6 In April 2009, Golden Corral entered New England with a restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts.7
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.8
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.9 A similar outbreak occurred in Wyoming and Orlando Florida in late 2012. 10
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.611 The company also sponsors Children's Miracle Network with each store donating money to local children's hospitals.
From 2004–2006 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 #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 primary sponsor on the #36 Tommy Baldwin Racing entry.
- "Golden Corral Corporation - Key Numbers". Hoovers. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- "Golden Corral Locator". GoldenCorral.com. Retrieved July 2, 2008.
- "Golden Corral Corporation". Funding Universe. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Fowler, Ted (2007). "Golden Corral Corporate Vision". GoldenCorral.com. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Maynard, James H.; Ted M. Fowler (April 18, 2002). "Golden Corral Corporation #PUB-1569". Newcomen. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Associated Press (November 17, 2008). "Golden Corral offers free meal to vets Monday". armytimes.com. Retrieved on November 17, 2008.
- "Golden Corral Restaurant Opening Will Bring New Jobs to Springfield". Springfield City Hall Online, April 10, 2009. Retrieved on April 23, 2009.
- Hayes, Jack (August 20, 2001). "Golden Corral to retrofit 200 units to 'Strata' display-cooking prototype in $50M campaign". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Williams, Clint (September 18, 2003). "Restaurant reopens after salmonella cases". about-salmonella.com. Article from Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on November 17, 2008.
- "Military Appreciation". GoldenCorral.com. October 30, 2006. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Carmody, James A. (January 7, 2002). "Golden Corral Corporation v. NicGod Domain Services aka For Sale". National Arbitration Forum. Retrieved August 18, 2007.