Home Town Buffet – El Cajon

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EL CAJON — By a general rule, this publication does not feature national franchises on our dining pages, but in the case of the Hometown Buffet in El Cajon, there are enough local ties to get around that particular rule.

First of all, it’s one of only two East County Hometown Buffets; and, secondly, the general manager, Randy Young, is a graduate from Grossmont College with a degree in food service.

His 17 years at this location has given him a unique perspective of — not only the business — but the community, as well.

EL CAJON — By a general rule, this publication does not feature national franchises on our dining pages, but in the case of the Hometown Buffet in El Cajon, there are enough local ties to get around that particular rule.

First of all, it’s one of only two East County Hometown Buffets; and, secondly, the general manager, Randy Young, is a graduate from Grossmont College with a degree in food service.

His 17 years at this location has given him a unique perspective of — not only the business — but the community, as well.

A recent remodel of the restaurant was a culmination of an even bigger change, according to Young. “It’s been a revitalization of this downtown area,” he said. “It used to be that families would not come out here after dark because of all the things that were going on.

“Drugs, homelessness, alcohol abuse, prostitution. It was not a great situation when I first came to this store.”

Ultimately, though, the El Cajon Police Department, city government and other civic groups began to take the downtown region back; new business opened and the district became a family-friendly venue once again. Around the same time, a Golden Corral had opened on Second Street in El Cajon. This brought huge competition to Hometown Buffet, as did Soup Plantation, the Sycuan and Veijas casinos and several local Asian buffets.

The Golden Corral, however, went under and sold out to Walgreens; but the other diners continue to give Young’s store a run for its money.
Eighteen months ago, the Hometown Buffet underwent a half-million dollar renovation, adding American, Asian, Mexican and Italian food stations, a new dessert bar and adding several hundred square feet of space. The store was given a new interior, as well.

“These food bars have really brought a lot of attention to this restaurant,” Young said. “Especially our new Mongolian stir-fry station. This has proven to be really popular. Our American Classic food bar is also a big hit, serving hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and other national favorites (to go along with Hometown’s fried and baked chicken, dumpling, pot roast and meatloaf).”

There are fresh enchiladas, nachos and build-your-own tacos available at the Mexican station, while the Italian bar offers a variety of pizza and pastas. Salads, fresh fruit, vegetables, several kinds of potatoes, friend and baked fish, butterfly shrimp, shrimp scampi, steak, pork ribs, a carving station that offers ham and beef, as well as many different desserts (cakes, pies, cobblers, cookies, cheesecakes, Rice Krispy squares, brownies, fudge and ice cream – hand-scooped and soft-serve) are also offered here.

“We have such a wide variety of food, its a natural attraction to people,” Young said. “Many of our customers come her three or four days a week and sometimes never have the same thing twice. And while we’re especially popular with seniors (a weekday discount between 1 p.m.- 3 p.m. is only $5.99 and includes a beverage), we are also bringing in a lot of younger people and those with families.”

Hometown buffet offers lunch ($7.99, plus beverage cost Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., dinner ($10.99) from 3:30 to 9 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, breakfast (including omelets made to order, $5.99) is served from 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Daily food items include, Sunday, pot roast, steaks and carved turkey; Monday, meatloaf, orange chicken, pork steaks, chicken and dumplings; Tuesday, pot roast Salsbury steak: Wednesday, meatloaf, sausage and peppers; Thursday, pot roast, bourbon chicken, country fried steak; Friday, pot roast, beef patties; Saturday, meat loaf, pork ribs.

Everyday food includes, baked and fried chicken and fish, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, among other favorites.