The Burns Club in Kambah says it will fight any suggestion that buffets will be banned in the ACT, saying the Star Buffet in the club is "critical" to its ongoing existence.
The Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum has outlined a proposal to the ACT Government to allow tourism and hospitality businesses to re-open as the coronavirus pandemic eases, including banning the buffet.
A firm favourite with families, the Star Buffet is a tenant in the Kambah club and would have been celebrating five years in the building on Mother's Day but has been closed since March due to the pandemic.
Burns Club president Athol Chalmers said the buffet had rapidly become an institution in Canberra, attracting 4000 to 5000 diners a week.
"I don't see why a buffet is any different to any other eating establishments as long as we apply social distancing rules, why couldn't you open it?" he said.
"There are particular challenges, obviously, the main one being the queuing up for food but that would be no different to lining up at the Woolies supermarket, you've just got to stand 1.5 metres apart.
"We just think, apply the same social distancing rules that you apply for a restaurant or a cafe. You can do that in a buffet, it's just got some particular challenges.
"So we disagree with that view."
Mr Chalmers said the Star Buffet had undergone some renovations during the enforced shutdown, showing the owner's desire to stay operating in the club.
"So when it re-opens, it will look slightly different to patrons," he said.
"We're also committed, obviously, to keeping it and as soon as we open up, hopefully people will start coming back through the doors."
The Burns Club would not be re-opening this weekend, the 10-person limit for dining not feasible.
"The clubs that are opening are the ones that having been doing a takeaway service , they've got chefs in the kitchen, so it's just a natural extension to let some people come and eat sitting down," he said.
"But in our case, it just doesn't work, 10 people."
Mr Chalmers said the buffet was critical for the club, with people requiring memberships to dine there.
"It's brought a lot of people through the club who might not otherwise have come here," he said.
"It's certainly a critical part of our business and we look forward to opening up and having an even better Star Buffet.
"The Star Buffet is owned by another person who is running their business inside our building under a particular financial arrangement. He's got other facilities in Sydney, this is the only one in Canberra.
"He's more than committed to re-opening, the fact he's investing in the facility while the place is shut down is testament to that."
Mr Chalmers said the Star Buffet did the meals while the bar was the club business.
"Five thousand people a week coming through the door is a lot of people. For us, we've got them in the club, we encourage them to stay, have a drink, perhaps play a gaming machine. The membership has exploded off the back of it, so it has been a key element of turning business around in the last few years," he said.
"The challenge for us to make sure people don't finish their meal and go straight out the door."
Mr Chalmers said the last resort was changing the buffet model, but the all-you-can-eat nature of the buffet was what attracted people to the club.
"They have the ability to switch to another model which would be more like the traditional in-hour restaurant in which you order, but that's not their model," he said.
"We still have to have a food offering, that's the condition of the licensing of the club. And again the owner has said, 'If it comes to that we can offer an alternative but it's not the ideal'. It'd be a step back if we couldn't run it."