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Bar/ Restaurants


Tom's Restaurant, a restaurant in New York made familiar by Suzanne Vega and the television sitcom Seinfeld.

A restaurant is a retail establishment that serves prepared food to customers. Service is generally for eating on premises, though the term has been used to describe take-out establishments and food delivery services. The term covers many types of venues and a diversity of styles of cuisine and service.

A restaurant owner is called a restaurateur; both words derive from the French verb restaurer, meaning to restore.



Food catering establishments which may be described as restaurants were known since the 11th century in Kaifeng, China's northern capital during the first half of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). With a population of over 1 million people, a culture of hospitality and a paper currency, Kaifeng was ripe for the development of restaurants. Probably growing out of the tea houses and taverns that catered to travellers, Kaifeng's restaurants blossomed into an industry catering to locals as well as people from other regions of China.[1]

Restaurants catered to different styles of cuisine, price brackets, and religious requirements. Even within a single restaurant much choice was available, and people ordered what entree they wanted from written menus.[1] An account from 1275 writes of Hangzhou, the capital city for the last half of the dynasty:

"The people of Hangzhou are very difficult to please. Hundreds of orders are given on all sides: this person wants something hot, another something cold, a third something tepid, a fourth something chilled; one wants cooked food, another raw, another chooses roast, another grill".[2]
The restaurants in Hangzhou also catered to many northern Chinese who had fled south from Kaifeng during the Jurchen invasion of the 1120s, while it is also known that many restaurants were run by families formerly from Kaifeng.[3]

Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House was established in Kaifeng in 1153 AD during the Jurchen-controlled Jin Dynasty (though documentation does not exist to prove continuous service) and is still serving up meals today.

Western world
In the West, while inns and taverns were known from antiquity, these were establishments aimed at travellers, and in general locals would rarely eat there. Restaurants, as businesses dedicated to the serving of food, and where specific dishes are ordered by the guest and generally prepared according to this order, emerged only in the 18th century. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Sobrino de Botin in Madrid, Spain is the oldest restaurant in existence today. It opened in 1725.

The term restaurant (from the French restaurer, to restore) first appeared in the 16th century, meaning "a food which restores", and referred specifically to a rich, highly flavoured soup. It was first applied to an eating establishment in around 1765 founded by a Parisian soup-seller named Boulanger. The first restaurant in the form that became standard (customers sitting down with individual portions at individual tables, selecting food from menus, during fixed opening hours) was the Grand Taverne de Londres (the "Great Tavern of London"), founded in Paris in 1782 by a man named Antoine Beauvilliers, a leading culinary writer and gastronomic authority[4] who achieved a reputation as a successful restaurateur. He later wrote what became a standard cookbook, L'Art du cuisinier (1814).

Restaurants became commonplace in France after the French Revolution broke up catering guilds and forced the aristocracy to flee, leaving a retinue of servants with the skills to cook excellent food; whilst at the same time numerous provincials arrived in Paris with no family to cook for them. Restaurants were the means by which these two could be brought together — and the French tradition of dining out was born.

A leading restaurant of the Napoleonic era was the Véry, which was lavishly decorated and boasted a menu with extensive choices of soups, fish and meat dishes, and scores of side dishes. Balzac often dined there.[citation needed] Although absorbed by a neighbouring business in 1869, the resulting establishment Le Grand Véfour is still in business.

The restaurant described by Britannica as the most illustrious of all those in Paris in the 19th century was the Café Anglais (the "English coffee-shop") on the Boulevard des Italiens, showing for a second time the high regard that Parisians evidently had for London, England, and the English — at least when it came to naming their restaurants.

Boris Kustodiev: Restaurant in Moscow (1916)

Restaurants then spread rapidly across the world, with the first in the United States (Jullien's Restarator) opening in Boston in 1794. Most however continued on the standard approach of providing a shared meal on the table to which customers would then help themselves (Service à la française, commonly called "family style" restaurants), something which encouraged them to eat rather quickly. The modern formal style of dining, where customers are given a plate with the food already arranged on it, is known as Service à la russe, as it is said to have been introduced to France by the Russian Prince Kurakin in the 1810s, from where it spread rapidly to England and beyond.

Types of restaurants

Restaurants in Greek islands are often situated right on the beach. This is an example from Astipalea.

Restaurants range from unpretentious lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with simple food served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving refined food and wines in a formal setting. In the former case, customers usually wear casual clothing. In the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casual, semi-formal, or even in rare cases formal wear.

Typically, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready, and the customers pay the bill before leaving. In finer restaurants there will be a host or hostess or even a maître d'hôtel to welcome customers and to seat them. Other staff waiting on customers include busboys and sommeliers.

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 establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcohol. 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 (BYO / BYOB). In some places restaurant licenses may restrict service to beer, or wine and beer.

Specific types of restaurants

Types of restaurants include:

Brasserie, bistro, pub
Dining car
Fast-food restaurant
Family style restaurant
Chain restaurants
Greasy spoon
Mobile catering

Restaurant guides

Restaurants offering ethnic food have spread all over North America and Australia in the past few decades. One of many Italian restaurants in the Heights commercial district of North Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Restaurant guides review restaurants, often ranking them or providing information for consumer decisions (type of food, handicap accessibility, facilities, etc). In 12th century Hanzhou (mentioned above as the location of the first restaurant,) signs could often be found posted in the city square listing the restaurants in the area and local customer's opinions of the quality of their food. This was an occasion for bribery and even violence. Today, restaurant review is carried out in a more civilized manner. One of the most famous contemporary guides, in Western Europe, is the Michelin series of guides which accord from 1 to 3 stars to restaurants they perceive to be of high culinary merit. Restaurants with stars in the Michelin guide are formal, expensive establishments; in general the more stars awarded, the higher the prices. In the United States, the Mobil Travel Guides and the AAA rate restaurants on a similar 1 to 5 star (Mobil) or diamond (AAA) scale. Three, four, and five star/diamond ratings are roughly equivalent to the Michelin one, two, and three star ratings while one and two star ratings typically indicate more casual places to eat. In 2005, Michelin released a New York City guide, its first for the United States. The popular Zagat Survey compiles individuals' comments about restaurants but does not pass an "official" critical assessment. The Good Food Guide, published by the Fairfax Newspaper Group in Australia, is the Australian guide listing the best places to eat. Chefs Hats are awarded for outstanding restaurants and range from one hat through three hats. The Good Food Guide also incorporates guides to bars, cafes and providers.

Nearly all major American newspapers employ restaurant critics and publish online dining guides for the cities they serve. A few papers maintain a reputation for thorough and thoughtful review of restaurants to the standard of the good published guides, but others provide more of a listings service.

More recently Internet sites have started up that publish both food critic reviews and popular reviews by the general public. This is a growing area and the market is still immature with no sites yet gaining dominant public or critical support. Several are gaining traction including, and Their major competition comes from bloggers and search engines since search engines often favor active bloggers over large somewhat static websites.

One interesting twist is, they review the dishes rather than the restaurant. Many of these sites also offer discount coupons and maps.

As of 2006, there are approximately 215,000 full-service restaurants in the United States, accounting for $298 billion, and approximately 250,000 limited-service (fast food) restaurants, accounting for $260 billion, according to the 2006 U.S. Industry & Market Outlook by Barnes Reports.

Restaurants are one end of the supply chain in the foodservice industry, along with catering companies and non-restaurant food preparers. There is usually much competition in most cities since barriers to entry are relatively low. The amount of competition can make it hard to make a profit. In most First World industrialized countries, restaurants are heavily regulated to ensure the health and safety of the customers.[citation needed]

The typical restaurant owner faces many obstacles to success, including raising initial capital, finding competent and skilled labour, maintaining consistent and excellent food quality, maintaining high standards of safety, and the costs of minimising potential liability for any food poisoning or accidents that may occur.

Additionally, when economic conditions deteriorate—for example, when gasoline prices increase—households typically spend less on dining out.

Gernet, Jacques (1962). Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. Translated by H. M. Wright. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0720-0
Kiefer, Nicholas M. (August 2002). "Economics and the Origin of the Restaurant". Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly,: pp 5 - 7. (pdf)

Further reading
Rebecca L. Spang (2000), The Invention of the Restaurant, Harvard University Press
Whitaker, Jan (2002), Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America", St. Martin's Press.

Tourists sit outside a bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A Depression-era bar in Melrose, Louisiana.

A bar in Switzerland.

A bar (also called a pub or tavern) is a business that serves drinks, especially alcoholic beverages such as beer, liquor, and mixed drinks, for consumption on the premises. Bars provide stools or chairs for the patrons along tables or raised counters. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go dancers, a floor show or strippers (see strip club). Bars that are part of hotels are sometimes called long bars or hotel lounges.

The term "bar" is derived from the specialized counter on which drinks are served and is a synecdoche applied to the whole of the drinking establishment. The "back bar" or "gantry" is a set of shelves of glasses and bottles behind that counter. In some bars, the gantry is elaborately decorated with woodwork, etched glass, mirrors, and lights. When food is served elsewhere in the establishment, it may also be ordered and eaten at the bar.

There are many types of bars, which can be categorized according to the types of entertainment provided at the bar and by their clientèle.

Bars categorized by the type of entertainment or activities offered at the bar include: Topless bars, where topless female employees serve drinks or dance; sports bars, where sports fans watch games on large-screen televisions; salsa bars, where patrons dance to Latin salsa music; and dance bars, which have a modest-sized dance floor where patrons dance to recorded music. However, if a dance bar has a large dance floor and hires well-known professional DJs, it is usually considered to be nightclub or discothèque.

Bars categorized by the clientele who come to the bar include: biker bars, which are bars frequented by motorcycle enthusiasts, and in some regions, motorcycle gang members; gay bars, where gay men or women dance and socialize; cop bars, where off-duty law enforcement agents gather; and singles bars where (mostly) unmarried people of both genders can socialize and meet.

A bar's owners and managers typically choose establishment names, decor, drink menus, lighting and other elements they can control so as to attract a certain clientele. However, bar operators have only limited influence over who patronizes their establishments and a bar envisioned for one demographic can become popular with another. For example, a gay bar with a dance floor might attract an increasingly-straight clientele over time and vice versa. As well, a blues club may become a de facto "biker bar" if its main clients are biker gang members.

There are also retro bars and lounge bars.


United States
In the United States of America, legal distinctions often exist between restaurants, bars, and even types of bars. These distinctions vary from state to state, and even among municipalities. Beer bars (sometimes called taverns or pubs) may be legally restricted to only selling beer or possibly wine, cider and other low-proof beverages. Liquor bars sell everything from beer to hard liquor.

Bars are sometimes exempt from smoking bans that restaurants are subject to, even if those restaurants have liquor licenses. The distinction between a restaurant that serves liquor and a bar is usually made by the percentage of revenue earned from selling liquor, although increasingly, smoking bans include bars too.

In most places, bars are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages to go and this makes them clearly different from liquor stores. Some brewpubs and wineries can serve alcohol to go, but under the rules applied to a liquor store. In some areas, such as New Orleans and parts of Las Vegas, open containers of alcohol may be prepared to go. This kind of restriction is usually dependent on an open container law. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, bars may sell six packs of beer "to-go" in original (sealed) containers by obtaining a take-out license.

Historically, the western United States featured saloons. Many saloons survive in the western United States, though their services and features have changed with the times. Newer establishments have been built in the saloon style to duplicate the feeling of the older establishments.

Many Irish or British-themed "pubs" exist throughout United States and Canada and in some continental European countries.

Belgium is well known internationally for its wide range of beers, as well as its bars ("cafés" as they are called there). All cities and villages have a great concentration of them. For a long list of the cafés of Brussels, please stroll through this list.

As a current British Dominion (Canada is now a sovereign nation), Canada absorbed many of the bar traditions common in the UK, such as the drinking of dark ales and stouts, and the establishment of British-style pubs. Canada adopted the UK-style tavern, which was the most popular type of bar throughout the 1960s and 1970s, especially for working class people. Canadian taverns, which can still be found in remote regions of Northern Canada, have long tables with benches lining the sides. Patrons in the smoky taverns order beer in large quart bottles and drink inexpensive "bar brand" Canadian rye whisky. Originally, taverns had separate entrances for men and women, in order to protect decorum.

As Canada borders the United States, it has also adopted many U.S. bar traditions, such as the "biker bar", the "country bar", and the blues bar. The U.S.-style sports bar has become very popular in Canada. Canadian sports bars are usually decorated with merchandise and paraphernalia featuring the local hockey team, and patrons watch the games on large-screen televisions.

Legal restrictions on bars are set by the Canadian provinces and territories, which has led to a great deal of variety. While some provinces have been very restrictive with their bar regulation, setting strict closing times and banning the removal of alcohol from the premises, other provinces have been more liberal. In Alberta, for example, patrons can order beer for "take-out" at the end of the night, a practice which is illegal in provinces such as Ontario. In some provinces, such as Quebec, patrons can drink until 3 a.m.

In Nova Scotia, particularly in Halifax, there was, until the 1980s, a very distinct system of gender-based laws were in effect for decades. Taverns, bars, halls, and other classifications differentiated whether it was exclusively for men or women, men with invited women, vice-versa, or mixed. After this fell to the wayside, the issue of water closets led many powder rooms in taverns being either constructed later, or in kitchens or upstairs halls where plumbing allowed, and the same in former sitting rooms for men's facilities.

United Kingdom
In the UK bars are either areas that serve alcoholic drinks within establishments such as hotels, restaurants, universities, or are a particular type of establishment which serves alcoholic drinks such as wine bars, "style bars", private membership only bars. However the main type of establishment selling alcohol for consumption on the premises is the public house or pub. Some bars are similar to nightclubs in that they feature loud music, subdued lighting, or operate a dress code and admissions policy, with inner city bars generally having door staff at the entrance.

In Australia, traditionally the 'public bar' was where only men drank, while the 'lounge bar' or 'saloon bar' was where women or men could drink (i.e. mixed drinking). This distinction is not seen now as anti-discrimination legislation and women's rights activism has broken down the concept of a public drinking area accessible to only one sex. Where two bars still exist in the one establishment, one (that derived from the 'public bar') will be more downmarket while the other (deriving from the 'lounge bar') will be more upmarket. Over time, with the introduction of gaming machines into hotels, many 'lounge bars' have or are being converted into gaming rooms.

In the major Australian cities there is an immense and diverse bar scene with a range of ambiences, modes and styles catering for every echelon of cosmopolitan society. Melbourne maintains a strong hold of the up and coming drinking scene.

In Italy, a 'bar' is a place more similar to a Café, where people go during the morning or the afternoon, usually to take a coffee, a cappuccino, a hot chocolate and eat some kind of snack like pastries and sandwiches (panini or tramezzini). However, any kind of alcoholic beverages are served. Opening hours vary: some establishments are open since very early in the morning and close relatively early in the evening; others, especially if next to a theater or a cinema, may be open until late at night. In larger cities like Milan, Rome, Turin or Genoa, many larger bars are also restaurants and disco clubs. Many Italian bars have introduced a 'so called' "aperitivo" time in the evening: everyone who purchases an alcoholic drink then has free access to an usually abundant buffet of cold dishes like pasta salads, vegetables and various types of appetizers.

Bars in India are mainly clustered in metro cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. The rest of the country has very few bar formats. Mostly, drinks are served in establishments such as restaurants. Many consumers prefer to purchase liquor at "wine shops" (locally known as Thekas—shops that, until recently, stocked only beer and liquor) and consume it at home.

More recently, bars are showing up in smaller cities; but, these establishments cater to a mostly male clientele and are unlike the social hubs of the west.

Bars range from down-and-dirty "dives" which are little more than a dark room with a counter and some bottles of liquor, to elegant places of entertainment for the elite.

Many bars set a happy hour to encourage off-peak patronage. Contrastingly, bars that fill to capacity typically implement a cover charge, often similar in price to one or two cocktails, during their peak hours. Such bars often feature entertainment, which may be a live band, or a popular D.J..

Fictional bars
Several fictional bars have featured prominently in movies, including the following:

Mos Eisley Cantina (Star Wars)
Rick's (Casablanca)
Lou's Tavern in Fight Club
Several fictional bars have featured prominently in books, including the following:

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson
Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke
The Draco Tavern by Larry Niven
Tales from Gavagan's Bar by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
Several fictional bars have featured prominently in television series, including the following:

Archie Bunker's Place
Babylon on Queer as Folk
Bada Bing on The Sopranos
Karatos on Angel
Moe's Tavern on The Simpsons
Phil's on Murphy Brown
The Queen Victoria on EastEnders
The Regal Beagle on Three's Company
Ten Forward on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Rovers Return on Coronation Street
The Drunken Clam on Family Guy
P3 on Charmed