QUESTION: How are buffets like the Golden Corral, China King and others where the customer can pass through and serve themselves operating now that they can be open?

ANSWER: The governor’s current guidelines for reopening the state say at restaurants, “if a buffet is offered, restaurant employees serve the food to customers.”

The specific restaurants you mentioned have approached that in different ways.

I spoke to Jason Brown, general manager at Golden Corral in Longview, who explained to me that his location is actually trying something different from what many other Golden Corral locations are doing, where they’re serving diners “cafeteria style.”

“The reason I opted out of that program is because it requires double the amount of staff,” because so many people are needed to stand behind the buffet to serve diners, Brown said.

Instead, at the Golden Corral in Longview, diners receive a menu when they walk in the door. They’re seated, and from there, the server does everything for the diner. The buffet is still set up, but it’s blocked off from the guests, so only the cooks and servers use that area, with servers taking diners’ orders at the tables and then plating the food and returning it to the table.

“It’s made it a lot safer for everybody,” he said, and the buffet is still unlimited, all-you-can eat.

At China King, manger Sunny Chen said employees scoop food for diners at the buffet, with no customer touching the serving items.

The restaurants also say they are following additional guidelines set by the state as well.

Q: What is the deadline to apply for mail-in ballots for Longview if you are over 65 and plan to vote in the general election for president (not the primaries)?

A: The deadline is the same statewide. For November’s general election, the last day to apply for a ballot by mail is Oct. 23. That means the application must be received by that day, not postmarked for that day.

Just as a reminder, in Gregg County, you can request an application for a ballot by mail by emailing or calling (903) 236-8458. You also can download an application for a ballot by mail to send to the elections office at . You must mail the signed original hard copy back to the office.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.