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Restaurant offers array of cultural flavors

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

With its Asian selections, and a Southern touch, a buffet restaurant in Morrow is providing patrons with a variety of choices -- from a hibachi buffet bar, to homemade desserts.

Papa Buffet, at 6335 Jonesboro Road, has been in service for about three weeks. In approximately 1,300 square feet, the restaurant provides diners a selection of culturally themed buffet bars, which includes: American food, Chinese food, seafood, sushi, desserts and a hibachi bar, where customers watch -- and are entertained -- as a chef cooks their meal.

The price for lunch is $6.95, from noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Dinner is from 4 p.m., to 10 p.m., and is $8.95 Monday through Thursday, and $12.95 Friday, and Saturday. And it includes all-you-can-eat crab legs and prime ribs. On Sundays, brunch and dinner are $8.95 each.

"I think it is a great place, the food is excellent, you have a variety of different nationalities," said Tiffany Burston, a patron and a student at Clayton State University. "If someone comes here, they'll find something on the menu."

Restaurant Owner Gary Lin said he believed his restaurant was the missing link residents of Clayton County had been looking for when dining out.

"In Clayton County, there are a lot of middle-class people ... [but] a lot of bad traffic on the Northside [City of Atlanta]," said Lin, who said travel time to restaurants in Atlanta was often discouraging to diners. "People like to stay where they are," he said. "I did some research, and I feel like this area needs some real buffet."

According to Lin, his restaurant is also co-owned by two business partners, and he wants to deliver a different image to a buffet restaurant by providing his diners with an upscale, interior design, and high-quality customer service. The restaurant also offers a party room, for those who wish to reserve space for a special occasion.

"We already have graduation, and wedding receptions booked, as well as birthday parties," said Lin.

He said he is planning to add a bar with alcoholic beverages some time next month. The bar, he said, will provide a variety of liquor choices, and will be in a separate room, so that it is not intrusive to the family environment of the buffet bars.

"I will have DJ nights, and I will try to hire as many locals as possible," he said. "Hangout, nice atmosphere ... jazz music, classy, not people screaming at each other."

The hibachi bar offers such items as scallops, prime rib and vegetables, to name a few. "I like the hibachi bar; I love the ability to select whatever I like ... each time, it's the exact amount that you want, cooked in front of you," said Crystal Black, director of member services for the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.

Lin, who said he is from Fujian, China, has been operating restaurants since 1994. When he first arrived in the United States, he said, he resided in the Bronx, N.Y., where he began working at a Chinese restaurant as a cook. He said his experience also includes working in, managing or owning, restaurants in South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

Lin said that in 2004, he relocated to Florence, Ala., where he operated a Chinese fast food restaurant called Wok n' Roll, that included a drive-through service. After two years of living and working in Alabama, he said, he sold the restaurant, and decided to do business in Atlanta. He said he currently owns,or co-owns, three restaurants in the metro-Atlanta area, including Papa Buffet.

"It [Papa Buffet] is unique in the fact that they have such a variety, and unique offerings, and have homemade desserts. That makes them such a great place for the Clayton County community," said the Chamber's Crystal Black.

"You don't have so many buffets that have soul food, Chinese food, seafood and a variety of things," said CSU student, Tiffany Burston.