The Buffet

Dining took many forms in the early casino resort hotels. The ubiquitous buffet—or “chuck wagon,” as it was more commonly known in the 1940s-1950s—was a favorite among both locals and visitors alike for the bargain it offered in terms of quantity and cost; a palatial spread of food for $1.50 (a typical price in the 1940s-1950s) went a long way in attracting customers to the casino, and the plan was that they would then spend far greater sums at the slot machines or the tables. Best and Hillyer (1955) describe a typical buffet scene in the 1950s like this:

“Here will be found dew-kissed fresh fruits, great trays of golden fried chicken, pyramids of pink shrimp, yards of hors d’oeuvres, pots of pate, fine cheeses, all kinds of salads, cold cuts, relishes galore, desserts to the end of time. ” (112)

In the early decades of the Strip the buffet ran at all hours and it was not uncommon for diners to be munching away happily from midnight to 6 a.m. Using Las Vegas guidebooks as evidence, it appears opening times moved to the typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours at some point in the late 1960s.