A Christmas buffet fiasco at IKEA Stoughton

Last night IKEA in Stoughton, Massachusetts, served a julbord – i.e., a traditional Swedish Christmas buffet. I believe it was the first one the store has ever served. Maybe it’s also the last. It was a debacle.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The cafeteria-style restaurant was nicely decorated for the occasion and the store had brought in not only a Lucia-troupe but also live music. The problem was quite simply that the store had sold far too many tickets for the event. My wife and I arrived at about 20 minutes after the doors had opened and the place had already degenerated into near chaos. Every single seat was taken and long lines snaked through the restaurant to the buffet tables. And then they ran out of food. And plates. And the whole thing turned into a flash-mob does Lord of the Flies. Instead of trying to get a handle on the situation the staff kept selling tickets to the very long line of non-ticket holders waiting for a piece of prinskorv and sillsallad, which signalled to the patrons already in the restaurant that there was no relief in sight, all this while literally besieged kitchen workers served half-frozen meatballs and unthawed bread as fast as they could.

The chaos was disappointing and surprising given how well the same store has thrown quite enjoyable crayfish parties in the same space for several years in a row. Now, a crayfish party is quite a bit easier to pull off logistically because it requires much fewer dishes – really only crayfish, bread, cheese and boiled potato – but that’s why it’s all the more important to limit how many people you admit.

It was poor value and I’m going to exact powerful revenge by boycotting the store’s ethnic food market, at least until the next time I go there.