Dorri Partain 
Assistant Editor 

“The finest buffet in the USA” operated for over 30 years in two distinct locations- North Kansas City and Winterset, Iowa.

Eventually “known coast to coast”, the Winterset location opened first, next to a bowling alley, in 1958. A farming and small business family, the Meyers, built a complex that housed a combination of venues in 1958: the Win-Bowl, a drive-in, a snack bar, and a restaurant named the Gold Room. Business at the Gold Room was lackluster until Alvin “Carroll” Meyer (1926-2019) took over management and added a Sunday buffet, featuring his wife Nicki’s home-style recipes and pies.

Soon the restaurant offered a daily buffet and the name changed to The Gold Buffet.  The successful combination of a bowling alley and buffet inspired Meyer to expand- and it just so happened that North Kansas City had a new venue that was similar, and the restaurant space was for lease. On June 1, 1961, the lease was signed at 503 E. 18th Avenue and construction began.

While the Winterset location was large, with seating for 250, the NKC venue would seat 800 in five distinct dining rooms: Gold, Amber, Vista, Fireside, and the Cork Club, a pirate-themed lounge that featured live entertainment. Each dining room had access to the buffet, or diners could order specialty items such as steak and lobster.

The “Gold Buffet” featured a huge array of meats, hot dishes, salads, and desserts for one price. In 1962, all-you-can-eat dinner was $2.00 and lunch was $1.25 and Meyer had plans to expand with more dining rooms to accommodate wedding receptions and conventions while still serving regular buffet diners.

By 1969, the Cork Club had been renamed the Pirate’s Club, and the pirate theme with the treasure chest logo was central to Meyer’s branding. A “Kiddie Buffet” with hamburgers, fries, and chocolate malts was offered on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons and each kid could dig into the pirate’s booty chest and select a free gold ring to wear on the car ride back home.

In 1975, Meyer upped his entertainment offerings by creating the Celebrity Room, complete with stage, lighting and a sound system to support live stage acts from across the country. With seating for 1200, performers included comedians such as Foster Brooks and Red Buttons, and singers, including Mel Tillis and Marie Osmond.

Due to difficulties in lining up acts, the Celebrity Room was relegated to private events by 1983 but the buffet was still the main attraction, with 14 meats, 30 hot dishes, 50 salads, and 7 desserts. To obtain quality recipes, when traveling, the Meyers would sample and purchase recipes from other restaurants.

Meyer closed the Winterset Gold Buffet in 1990, but new owners operated the Gold Star/ Gold Rush as an event center until 2013 when the building on John Wayne Drive was demolished to build a Hy-Vee grocery. The North Kansas City location closed in 1994, with Finnigan’s Hall taking the space as an event center. Owned by North Kansas City Development, The bowling alley and restaurant complex was recently demolished.