Isabelle Leota, 29, and her husband Sui Amaama, 26, both on the no-carb diet, were dining Tuesday at a Chuck-A-Rama in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville when the manager cut them off because they'd eaten too much roast beef.
"It's so embarrassing actually," said Leota. "We went in to have dinner, we were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment."
Not so, said Jack Johanson, the restaurant chain's district manager.
"We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," said Johanson. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."
The general manager was carving the meat, and became concerned about having enough for other patrons, Johanson said. So when Amaama went up for his 12th slice, the manager asked Amaama to stop.
Offended by the request, the couple argued with the manager, then asked for a refund. The manager refused, and when the couple refused to leave, he called police.
"I really feel like we were discriminated against, I feel like we were treated unfairly," said Leota.
The restaurant's roast beef is cooked overnight and takes between 12 and 14 hours to cook, Johanson said. Depending on the location, a Chuck-A-Rama may have only one to five roasts each day.
But Johanson said the manager offered plenty of other buffet items for the couple to choose from.
The couple are finishing their second week of the Atkins Diet, which requires taking in little to no carbohydrates, and they eat at Chuck-A-Rama's $8.99 buffet at least twice a week because of its convenience.
"You can just go there and just eat meat," said Leota, a mother of two.
Johanson said there's no written policy for what patrons can or can't eat, or for the size of their portions. But the restaurant reserves the right to talk to patrons if they abuse the buffet — a rare occurrence, he said.
The couple said they won't return to the restaurant.
"I don't have any desire to go there ever again," said Leota.