Golden Corral finished 2022 with 362 restaurants systemwide, a net gain of three. Across 2020 and 2021, the brand shut down a net of 124 stores.
The buffet still remains Golden Corral's main growth strategy. In July 2022, the company unveiled a franchise incentive program for new and existing franchisees who open a store within 24 months of signing a development agreement. According to the deal, an operator would be eligible for cash rebates during its first three years, reimbursed training costs for three managers, and reimbursed marketing expenses.
Trenary hinted last year that Golden Corral was working on a 3,500-square-foot fast casual with a drive-thru. At the time, he described the menu as a "modern twist on comfort food." The buffet chain hired design firms WD Partners and Profitality to work on the prototype.
“I think it gives us a new vehicle for growth that is not a buffet, but still closely related to Golden Corral,” Trenary told FSR in June 2022. “Enough that our most loyal customers will continue to eat with us and it’ll also attract our light or non-users because of the kind of offering that we're going to create with it.”
Golden Corral joins several casual-dining brands opting for quick service. Others playing in the space include Buffalo Wild Wings, IHOP, Hooters, P.F. Chang's, TGI Fridays, Friendly's, and True Food Kitchen.