Earlier this week. the good citizens of Oklahoma City were shocked by the closure of our wonderfully-beloved Las Vegas-style buffet Fuze. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but I assume that buffets there are forty yards long, lined on both sides, because that’s what Fuze was.
I went exactly once, on a dare, more or less. I can’t say that enjoyed it, but I can certainly say it was an unforgettable experience. And because of that, I’ll miss the place. Here’s why:
1: The commercials
You may have seen the commercials before. If not, do yourself a favor and take a look.
That first commercial is my favorite. Not because it’s almost four minutes long and repeats itself multiple times for some strange reason. I love it because the graphics and music are like a cross between every karaoke machine and the Prevue Channel that used to be on cable back in the 90’s. Much like the restaurant itself, you know it’s off-putting but you just can’t look away.
2: The outdoor experience
When you arrived at Fuze, the first thing you notice was that regardless of what time of day you went, it was packed. In that sense, it was the Wal-Mart of restaurants.
There’s also the fountains. They’re EXACTLY like the fountains at the Bellagio, except that instead of water being shot hundreds of feet in the air, it shot it dozens…of inches…into the air. But hey it changed colors and shit, so that’s something!
Last, but most certainly not least, the outdoor speakers blasting music, and loudly. Was the music it something like a nice James Taylor tune or some Neil Diamond? Nope. Think about every reality competition show you’ve seen. It’s THAT music, the kind that would make every intelligent person roll their eyes or burst out laughing in disbelief, but would make the common man want to climb Everest three times over buck naked despite their high blood pressure and pre-diabetes. According to the KOCO report, the outdoor music is still playing intermittently despite being closed. That’s right, the music is so badass that its forcing itself to keep playing from beyond the grave.
3: The food spread
Take a gander at that picture above. That’s not false advertising, and no I’m not talking about the all you can eat. Every type of cuisine listed on that façade was there AND THEN SOME. They also had Mongolian BBQ if you wanted to make sure your food was actually cooked, salads if you were pretending to be on a diet, and sushi for those who had a death wish. If there was a type of meal you wanted, it was likely there to have. Hell, if you wanted Thanksgiving, you could pull it off.
The Buffet itself was the length of the sitting area, lined on both sides with food. And even though everything promised was there, the labeling was off sometimes. For instance, the french fries were found in the Chinese section of the buffet (don’t ask).
They also had this genius concept where some desserts would be available only during certain times of day, or only on weekends. But they would still show it during off hours, tempting people to return to the cornucopia of this brave new world later in the week. And yes, they did have a chocolate fountain. Did you need to ask?
4: The live music
You didn’t think that guy playing saxophone was just there for the ads, did you? That’s right, there was plenty of live music, and it happened at the exact spot as you see in the commercial. If he wasn’t there on a nightly basis, you can be guaranteed that some other sex machine was blasting his instrument of lust for the patrons of Fuze. Except for the time I went. I want to say that a guy with a fancy guitar was the musical guest that afternoon, and I also want to say that he played “Smooth” by Santana. It’s at least what makes the most sense.
5: The fact that an old Olive Garden was put to good use
There’s a problem in this country that needs addressing. A few years ago, Olive Garden decided it was doing a poor job convincing people that they were Italian (go figure). So they actually put effort into their buildings, even if it meant changing locations altogether. As a result, we have a bunch of boxy buildings coated with beige stucco littered all across America. But thanks to the fine folks at Fuze, they have revitalized a once-abandoned neighborhood of…ah who am I kidding, it was on Expressway between Rockwell and MacArthur, there’s no improving that.
6: The bar
Remember earlier in the article where I said you could recreate a Thanksgiving dinner? I meant all of it, including the part where you overdrink and yell at racist relatives while they make themselves more obese.
Once you were done stacking food on your plate six inches high, you could go over and get a gallon of long island ice tea to wash down the pizza and sushi you dipped into the chocolate fountain. I’ll be honest, the idea of a buffet having a bar first disgusted me, then depressed me. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. I mean, how often have you gone to an inferior buffet, such as Golden Corral, looked at the masses, sighed and whispered to yourself, “I need a goddamned drink”? Fuze thought of that too, and the dulled the pain, both literally and figuratively.
I’m willing to bet that Fuze was completely aware of what kind of establishment it was and ran their business exactly as planned (except for the finances of course). It really was the Michael Bay of restaurants in that sense, knowing what its critics said, not caring, and seeing the beloved masses pour in. There is something to be said about that type of boldness, and it should be admired. Maybe that’s what I’ll miss the most.
Sam is a TLO Trivia Night host and three time Jeopardy Champion. @samnotscott