PUYALLUP, Wash. — The line kept growing Wednesday morning at South Hill Mall in Puyallup.
Inside, workers were setting out the final dishes for Golden Corral’s “endless buffet” for its grand opening. Some of the staff whipped out phones for last-minute quick group selfies and videos of the line forming outside before the breakfast-lunch rush began.
For staff and management, it had already been a full day, and it wasn’t even 10 a.m., the start time for its first day of operation as this area’s first Golden Corral.
D.J. Bauer, general manager for the restaurant, told The News Tribune he’d been up “since about 3 a.m.” in preparation for the opening.
“We are beyond excited to open up for the community,” Bauer said.
Asked about the day’s food selection, “You name it, we’ve got it,” he replied.
A Lakewood resident waiting outside said the opening meant “we don’t have to go to Marysville anymore.”
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Days before, Golden Corral workers served food to some of the mall staff as practice runs. They even practiced singing “Happy Birthday” to a colleague, according to Justin Hunt, the mall property manager.
Hunt had been on scene since just after 7 a.m.
“I ate yesterday and the day before. I hit the salad bar up twice, the breakfast, brunch stuff — the waffles, french toast, eggs, corn beef hash, biscuits and gravy,” he said. “I sampled everything at the dessert bar to make sure it was safe. Pot roast yesterday, sliders, two different types of chicken; I hit everything.
“D.J.’s got the team to dial it in.”
As Hunt watched the line form, he was reminded of how long it had taken to get to this point.
“I’ve watched this go from being gutted to construction to the permit process to building to working with the general contractor and owner,” he said. “We’ve all been working diligently to get to today.”
Expect future new offerings at the mall, though no specifics yet, said Hunt.
“The mall you see today is not the mall you’ll see this time next year,” he said.
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