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The three main costs of running a restaurant are rent, food and labor. One of the big reasons why weekday lunch and Sunday brunch buffets are so popular with restaurant owners is that they are major labor-saving devices, and therefore cost-saving devices. Aaron Allen is a restaurant consultant and industry analyst. He explains that a buffet cuts back on staff throughout the restaurant. "If the guest is walking through the buffet and plating their own food and basically serving themselves, you don't need as many front-of-house workers," says Allen, referring to waiters and bussers. "And for the back-of-house kitchen staff, you don't need to have an a la carte culinary team making items to order. Just a few cooks can make items in batches and replenish, so you can work with a smaller crew and produce more volume." Matthew Britt, a chef and instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, says that lower staffing needs and the predictability of buffet cooking are a great way for an a la carte restaurant to balance risk. Britt says that with the rise of nouvelle cuisine in the 1970s and 1980s profit margins at restaurants became much thinner. "There's a lot of uncertainty in a nouvelle cuisine dinner service. You don't know who's coming in or what they're going to order. You need an army of highly trained cooks to facilitate all the guests' needs," says Britt. "The lunch or brunch buffet was the answer to that."