A restaurant,(French: [ʁɛstoʁɑ̃] (About this sound listen)) or more informally an eatery, is a business that prepares and serves food and drinks to customers. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias, to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.
In Western countries, most mid-to high-range restaurants serve alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. Some restaurants serve all the major meals, such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner (e.g., major fast food chains, diners, hotel restaurants, and airport restaurants). Other restaurants may serve only a single meal (for example, a pancake house may only serve breakfast) or they may serve two meals (e.g., lunch and dinner).
The word derives from the French word ('to restore', 'to revive') and, being the present participle of the verb, it literally means 'that which restores'. The term restaurant was defined in 1507 as a "restorative beverage", and in correspondence in 1521 to mean 'that which restores the strength, a fortifying food or remedy'.
The concept of a restaurant as a public venue where waiting staff serve patrons food from a fixed menu is a relatively recent one, dating from the late 18th century. In 1765, a French chef by the name of A. Boulanger established a business selling soups and other restaurants ("restoratives"). While not the first establishment where one could order food, or even soups, it is thought to be the first to offer a menu of available choices.
The "first real restaurant" is considered to have been "La Grande Taverne de Londres" in Paris, founded by Antoine Beauvilliers in either 1782 or 1786. According to Brillat-Savarin, this was "the first to combine the four essentials of an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, and superior cooking". In 1802 the term was applied to an establishment where restorative foods, such as bouillon, a meat broth, were served ("établissement de restaurateur").
Restaurants are classified or distinguished in many different ways. The primary factors are usually the food itself (e.g. vegetarian, seafood, steak); the cuisine (e.g. Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, French, Mexican, Thai) or the style of offering (e.g. tapas bar, a sushi train, a tastet restaurant, a buffet restaurant or a yum cha restaurant). Beyond this, restaurants may differentiate themselves on factors including speed (see fast food), formality, location, cost, service, or novelty themes (such as automated restaurants). Some of these include fine dining, casual dining, contemporary casual, family style, fast casual, fast food, cafes, buffet, concession stands, food trucks, pop-up restaurants, diners, and ghost restaurants.