Restaurants often specialize in certain types of food or
present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. For
example, there are seafood restaurants, vegetarian restaurants or
ethnic restaurants. Generally speaking, restaurants selling "local"
food are simply called restaurants, while restaurants selling food of
foreign origin are called accordingly, for example, a Chinese
restaurant and a French restaurant.
Depending on local customs and the policy of the
establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcoholic
beverages. Restaurants are often prohibited from selling alcohol
without a meal by alcohol sale laws; such sale is considered to be
activity for bars, which are meant to have more severe restrictions.
Some restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol (‘fully licensed’), and
/ or permit customers to ‘bring your own’ alcohol.
A cafeteria is a restaurant serving mostly cooked ready to
food arranged behind a food-serving counter. There is little or no
table service. Typically, a patron takes a tray and pushes it along a
track in front of the counter. Depending on the establishment,
servings may be ordered from attendants, selected as ready-made
portions already on plates, or self-serve of food of their own choice.
In some establishments, a few items such as steaks may be ordered
specially prepared rare, medium and well done from the attendants.
The patron waits for those items to be prepared or is given a number
and they are brought to the table. Beverages may be filled from selfservice
dispensers or ordered from the attendants. At the end of the
line a cashier rings up the purchases. At some self-service
cafeterias, purchases are priced by weight, rather than by individual
The trays filled with selected items of food are taken to a
table to eat. Institutional cafeterias may have common tables, but
upscale cafeterias provide individual tables as in sit-down
restaurants. Upscale cafeterias have traditional cutlery and crockery,
and some have servers to carry the trays from the line to the patrons'
tables, and/ or bus the empty trays and used dishes.
Cafeterias have a wider variety of prepared foods. For
example, it may have a variety of roasts (beef, ham, turkey) ready for
carving by a server, as well as other cooked entrées, rather than
simply an offering of hamburgers or fried chicken.
Fast-food restaurants emphasize speed of service and low
cost over all other considerations. A common feature of newer fastfood
restaurants that distinguishes them from traditional cafeteria is
a lack of cutlery or crockery; the customer is expected to eat the food
directly from the disposable container it was served in using their
There are various types of fast-food restaurant:
· one collects food from a counter and pays, then sits
down and starts eating (as in a self-service restaurant or
· one collects ready portions
· one serves oneself from containers
· one is served at the counter
· a special procedure is that one first pays at the cash
desk, collects a coupon and then goes to the food
counter, where one gets the food in exchange for the
· one orders at the counter; after preparation the food is
brought to one's table; paying may be on ordering or
· a drive-through is a type of fast-food restaurant without
seating; diners receive their food in their cars and drive
away to eat
Most fast-food restaurants offer take-out: ready-to-eat hot
food in disposable packaging for the customer to eat off-site.
A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves
moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffetstyle
restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table
service. Casual dining comprises of a market segment between fast
food establishments and fine dining restaurants.
Fast Casual-Dining Restaurants
A fast casual restaurant is similar to a fast-food restaurant in
that it does not offer full table service, but promises a somewhat
higher quality of food and atmosphere. Average prices charged are
higher than fast-food prices and non-disposable plates and cutlery
are usually offered. This category is a growing concept that fills the
space between fast food and casual dining.
Counter service accompanied by handmade food (often
visible via an open kitchen) is typical. Alcohol may be served. Dishes
like steak, which require experience on the part of the cook to get it
right, may be offered. The menu is usually limited to an extended
over-counter display, and options in the way the food is prepared are
Many fast casual-dining restaurants are marketed as healthconscious:
healthful items may have a larger number of items than
normal portion of the menu and high-quality ingredients such as freerange
chicken and freshly made salsas may be advertised. Overall,
the quality of the food is presented as a much higher class than
conventional factory-made fast food. An obvious ethnic theme may
or may not be present in the menu.
Most of these establishments can be considered subtypes of
fast casual-dining restaurants or casual-dining restaurants.
Cafés and coffee shops are informal restaurants offering a
range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches. Cafés
offer table service. Many cafés are open for breakfast and
serve full hot breakfasts. In some areas, cafés offer outdoor
Coffeehouses are casual restaurants without table service
that emphasize coffee and other beverages; typically a
limited selection of cold foods such as pastries and perhaps
sandwiches are offered as well. Their distinguishing feature is
that they allow patrons to relax and socialize on their
premises for long periods of time without pressure to leave
promptly after eating.
A pub (short for public house) is a bar that serves simple food
fare. Traditionally, pubs were primarily drinking
establishments with food in a decidedly secondary position,
whereas the modern pub business relies on food as well, to
the point where gastropubs are known for their high-quality
pub food. A typical pub has a large selection of beers and
ales on tap.
iv) Bistros and Brasserie
A brasserie is a café doubling as a restaurant and serving
single dishes and other meals in a relaxed setting. A bistro is
a familiar name for a café serving moderately priced simple
meals in an unpretentious setting. Especially in Paris, bistros
have become increasingly popular with tourists. When used
in English, the term bistro usually indicates either a fast
casual-dining restaurant with a European-influenced menu or
a café with a larger menu of food.
v) Family Style
"Family style restaurants" are restaurants that have a fixed
menu and fixed price, usually with diners seated at a
communal table such as on bench seats. More common in
the 19th and early 20th century, they can still be found in
rural communities, or as theme restaurants, or in vacation
lodges. There is no menu to choose from; rather food is
brought out in courses, usually with communal serving
dishes, like at a family meal. Typical examples can include
crabhouses, German-style beer halls, BBQ restaurants,
hunting lodges, e tc. Some normal restaurants will mix
elements of family style, such as a table salad or bread bowl
that is included as part of the meal.
vi) BYO Restaurant
BYO Restaurant are restaurants and bistros which do not
have a liquor license.
vii) Delicatessens Restaurant
Restaurants offering foods intended for immediate
consumption. The main product line is normally luncheon
meats and cheeses. They may offer sandwiches, soups, and
salads as well. Most foods are precooked prior to delivery.
Preparation of food products is generally simple and only
involves one or two steps.
viii) Ethnic Restaurants
They range from quick-service to upscale. Their menus
usually include ethnic dishes and / or authentic ethnic foods.
Specialize in a particular multicultural cuisine not specifically
accommodated by any other listed categories. Example:
Asian Cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian Cuisine, American
ix) Destination Restaurants
A destination restaurant is one that has a strong enough
appeal to draw customers from beyond its community.
Example: Michelin Guide 3-star restaurant in Europe, which
according to the restaurant guides is "worthy of a journey”.