I fell to musing about the characteristics of a food establishment that entitle it to be designated as a restaurant, as opposed to a cafe or snack bar, whilst I read my morning paper today. I learned that the world's largest burger chain is to begin a sit-down service at some of its outlets. American fast-food enterprises invariably label their retail units as restaurants. They share common characteristics in requiring customers to order and collect their food from a service counter, seat themselves and equip themselves with whatever eating tackle and condiments they wish.
In my book a restaurant is a place where you are greeted on arrival, shown to a table, given a menu, served whilst seated and waited upon until done. A cafe is a place where you order at a counter and are then served, or where the service is much more basic than a restaurant. (Menus permanently on the table is a good clue.) A snack bar is somewhere you order, wait and collect your food from a counter. (I am ignoring takeaways in all cases). So a fast-food joint is not a restaurant. It is barely a cafe. It is a snack bar. It is cheap and quick and delivers exactly what is says on the tin (this is a popular saying, I'm not alleging that any particular well-known chain does serve straight from the tin, OK? [That needed inclusion: Ed]).
So it is interesting that the business in question is finally going to upgrade itself to a cafe status and I wonder when they will get around to opening a real restaurant.