Restaurants and Service
The evolution of restaurants has a very interesting beginning. Food stalls and public stands were in existence in earlyRomeand Sung DynastyChina. There was no expectation of service other than the vendor setting down some bread and olives and a glass of local wine. EarlyConstantinoplehad some of the first coffee houses and cafes. Pilgrims and travelers found sustenance in taverns and inns.
The meaning of the word “restaurant” is derived from the French word “restaurer” which means “to restore”. Actually, the first French eateries sold “restaurants”-meat based consommés intended to “restore” one’s strength.
The French Revolution brought about the beginnings of real restaurants. People could sit down together and enjoy the same meal if they could pay the price. Royalty could no longer control the sale of food. Menus were introduced to the public for the first time and people had a choice of what they could eat.
Real restaurants did not appear in Americauntil the very end of the 18th century. Even the great hotels had communal dining rooms where the service standards were the “come and get it” mentality. In 1828 the Tremont House inBoston introduced “French Service” in its dining room where customers could sit at individual tables and use the newly invented four tine fork.
By the 1830’s, customers who stayed in hotels were forced to pay for room and board whether they ate or not. Service was crude if it existed at all.
Next time, we’ll look at restaurant service and how it has evolved.