Cafeteria
Overview
 
A cafeteria is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant
Restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 or within an institution such as a large office building or school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

; a school dining location is also referred to as a dining hall or canteen (in UK English). Cafeterias are different from coffeehouse
Coffeehouse
A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

s, although that is the Spanish meaning of the English word.

Instead of table service, there are food-serving counters/stalls, either in a line or allowing arbitrary walking paths.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
A cafeteria is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant
Restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 or within an institution such as a large office building or school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

; a school dining location is also referred to as a dining hall or canteen (in UK English). Cafeterias are different from coffeehouse
Coffeehouse
A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

s, although that is the Spanish meaning of the English word.

Instead of table service, there are food-serving counters/stalls, either in a line or allowing arbitrary walking paths. Customers take the food they require as they walk along, placing it on a tray
Tray
A tray is a shallow platform designed for carrying things. It is larger than a salver, a diminutive version commonly used for lighter and smaller servings, and it can be fashioned from numerous materials, including silver, brass, sheet iron, wood, melamine, and papier-mâché...

. In addition, there are often stations where customers order food and wait while it is prepared, particularly for items such as hamburger
Hamburger
A hamburger is a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat usually placed inside a sliced bread roll...

s or taco
Taco
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese, allowing for great versatility and variety...

s which must be served hot and can be quickly prepared. Alternatively, the patron is given a number and the item is brought to their table. Sometimes, for some food items and drinks, customers collect an empty container, pay at the check-out, and fill the container after the check-out. Free second servings are often allowed under this system. For legal purposes (and the consumption patterns of customers), this system is rarely or never used for alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

s in the USA.

Customers are either charged a flat rate for admission (as in a buffet
Buffet
A buffet is a system of serving meals in which food is placed in a public area where the diners generally serve themselves. Buffets are offered at various places including hotels and many social events...

), or pay at the check-out
Point of sale
Point of sale or checkout is the location where a transaction occurs...

 for each item. Some self-service cafeterias charge by the weight of items on a patron's plate.

As cafeterias require few employees, they are often found within a larger institution, catering to the clientele of that institution. For example, school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

s, college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

s and their residence halls, department store
Department store
A department store is a retail establishment which satisfies a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories...

s, hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s, museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

s, military base
Military base
A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a...

s, prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

s, and office buildings often have cafeterias.

At one time, upscale cafeteria-style restaurants dominated the culture of the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, and to a lesser extent the Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

. There were several prominent chains of them: Bickford's, Morrison's Cafeteria
Morrison's Cafeteria
Morrison's Cafeterias was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants, located in the Southeastern United States with a concentration of locations in Georgia and Florida. Generally found in shopping malls, Morrison's primary competition was Piccadilly Cafeterias. It was particularly popular in Florida,...

, Piccadilly Cafeteria, S&W Cafeteria
S&W Cafeteria
S&W Cafeteria was a Charlotte, North Carolina-based chain of cafeteria style restaurants. The chain specialized in low-cost, southern style cookery. Branch locations were located in the Southeastern United States from Washington, D.C...

,
Apple House, K&W
K&W Cafeteria
K&W Cafeteria is a Southern USA chain of cafeteria-style restaurants. K&W serves traditional Southern favorites including fried chicken, turnip greens, fried okra, and homemade desserts....

, Britling
Britling Cafeterias
Britling Cafeterias was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants, originating in Memphis, Tennessee. During the late 1920s, Britling opened three cafeterias in downtown Birmingham, Alabama....

, Wyatt's Cafeteria, and Blue Boar
Blue Boar Cafeterias
Blue Boar Cafeterias was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky. The first Blue Boar was opened in 1931. Once a major presence in metro Louisville and still remembered for its old downtown location on Fourth Avenue near Broadway. During the 1930s, Guion Clement Earle ...

 among them.
Currently two midwest chains still exist, Sloppy Jo's Lunchroom and Manny's, both located in Illinois. There were also a number of smaller chains, usually in and around a single city. These institutions, with the exception of K&W, went into a decline in the 1960s with the rise of fast food
Fast food
Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a...

 and were largely finished off in the 1980s by the rise of "casual dining
Casual dining
This is a list of casual dining restaurant chains around the world, arranged in alphabetical order. A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere...

". A few chains — notably Luby's
Luby's
As of March 2011, Luby's, Inc. operates restaurants under the brands Luby's, Fuddruckers and...

 and Piccadilly Cafeterias
Piccadilly Cafeterias
Piccadilly Cafeterias is a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants found primarily in the Southern United States.The company began with a single cafeteria in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1944, founded by T.H. Hamilton. Today, the chain operates 130 locations in 15 states.The company expanded in 1998 when...

 (which took over the Morrison's chain), continue to fill some of the gap left by the decline of the older chains. Many of the smaller Midwestern chains, such as MCL Cafeterias
MCL Cafeterias
MCL Cafeterias now known as MCL Restaurant & Bakery, is a chain of American cafeteria-style restaurants.-Background:The company began with a single cafeteria in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1950, founded by Charles O. McGaughey and George Laughner. MCL is an abbreviation of their two names. . Today,...

 centered around Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, are still very much in business.

The world's largest non-military cafeteria is in the Brody Complex at Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

.

History

Perhaps the first self-service restaurant (not necessarily cafeteria) in the United States was the Exchange Buffet in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, opened September 4, 1885, which catered to an exclusively male clientele. Food was purchased at a counter, and patrons ate standing up. This represents the predecessor of two formats: the cafeteria, described below, and the automat
Automat
An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drink are served by coin-operated and bill-operated vending machines.-Concept:Originally, the machines took only nickels...

.

During the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, an entrepreneur named John Kruger built an American version of the smörgåsbord
Smörgåsbord
Smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. In Norway it is called koldtbord, in Denmark it is called det kolde bord, in Finland seisova pöytä and in Estonia rootsi laud...

s he had seen while traveling in Sweden. Emphasizing the simplicity and light fare, he called it the "Cafeteria" - Spanish for "coffee shop". The exposition attracted over 27 million visitors (half the US population at the time) in six months, and it was initially through Kruger's operation that America first heard the term and experienced the self-service dining format.

Meanwhile, in everyday, hometown America, the chain of Childs Restaurants
Childs Restaurants
Childs Restaurants was one of the first national dining chains in the United States and Canada, having peaked in the 1920s and 1930s with about 125 locations in dozens of markets, serving over 50,000,000 meals a year, with over $37 million in assets at the time. Childs was a pioneer in a number of...

 was quickly growing from about 10 locations in New York City (in 1890), to hundreds across the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (by 1920). Childs is credited with the critical innovation of adding trays and a "tray line" to the self-service format, which they introduced in 1898 at their 130 Broadway location. Childs did not change its format of sit-down dining, however. This was soon the standard design for most Childs Restaurants - and many imitators - from coast-to-coast, and ultimately the dominant design for cafeterias.

It has also been said that the "cafeteria craze started in May 1905, when a woman named Helen Mosher opened a humble downtown L.A. restaurant where people chose their food at a long counter and carried their own trays to their tables." California does have a long and rich history in the cafeteria format - most notably the many Boos Brothers Cafeterias, and also Clifton's
Clifton's Cafeteria
Clifton's Cafeteria, once part of a chain of Clifton's restaurants, is the oldest surviving cafeteria style eatery in Los Angeles, California, and the largest public cafeteria in the world. Founded in 1931 by Clifford Clinton, the name was created by combining the first half of "Clifford" and the...

and Schaber's. However, the facts do not warrant the "wellspring" characterization that some have ascribed to the region. The earliest cafeterias in California were opened at least 12 years after Kruger's Cafeteria, and Childs already had several dozen locations scattered around the country. Finally, Horn & Hardart
Horn & Hardart
Horn & Hardart was a food services company of the USA noted for operating the first food service automats in Philadelphia and New York City.Philadelphia's Joseph Horn and German-born, New Orleans-raised, Frank Hardart opened their first restaurant together in Philadelphia on December 22, 1888...

, an automat
Automat
An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drink are served by coin-operated and bill-operated vending machines.-Concept:Originally, the machines took only nickels...

 format chain (only slightly different from the cafeteria), was also well established in the mid-Atlantic region before 1900.

Between 1960 and 1980, the popularity of cafeteria format restaurants was gradually overcome by the emergence of the fast food restaurant
Fast food restaurant
A fast food restaurant, also known as a Quick Service Restaurant or QSR within the industry itself, is a specific type of restaurant characterized both by its fast food cuisine and by minimal table service...

 and fast casual restaurant
Fast casual restaurant
A fast casual restaurant is a type of restaurant that does not offer full table service, but promises a higher quality of food and atmosphere than a fast food restaurant. In the US, it is a relatively new and growing concept positioned between fast food and casual dining...

 formats.

Other names

A cafeteria in a U.S. military
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 installation is known as a chow hall, a mess hall, a galley, mess decks or, more formally, a dining facility, whereas in common British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 parlance, it is known as a cookhouse or mess
Mess
A mess is the place where military personnel socialise, eat, and live. In some societies this military usage has extended to other disciplined services eateries such as civilian fire fighting and police forces. The root of mess is the Old French mes, "portion of food" A mess (also called a...

. Students in the USA often refer to cafeterias as lunchrooms, though breakfast as well as lunch is often eaten there. Cafeterias serving university dormitories are sometimes called dining halls or dining commons. A food court
Food court
A food court is generally an indoor plaza or common area within a facility that is contiguous with the counters of multiple food vendors and provides a common area for self-serve dining. Food courts may be found in shopping malls and airports, and in various regions may be a standalone development...

 is a type of cafeteria found in many shopping mall
Shopping mall
A shopping mall, shopping centre, shopping arcade, shopping precinct or simply mall is one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit, along with a parking area — a modern, indoor version...

s and airport
Airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

s featuring multiple food vendors or concessions, although a food court could equally be styled as a type of restaurant
Restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...

 as well, being more aligned with public, rather than institutionalised, dining.

Some monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

, boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

s and older universities
Ancient university
Ancient university is a term used to describe seven medieval and renaissance universities of the United Kingdom and Ireland that exist today. Six of those universities are currently located in the United Kingdom and one in the Republic of Ireland...

 refer to their cafeteria as a refectory
Refectory
A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries...

. Modern-day British cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

s and abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

s, notably in the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, often use the phrase refectory to describe a cafeteria open to the public. Historically, the refectory
Refectory
A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries...

 was generally only used by monks and priests. For example, although the original 800-year-old refectory at Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, in Gloucester, England, stands in the north of the city near the river. It originated in 678 or 679 with the foundation of an abbey dedicated to Saint Peter .-Foundations:The foundations of the present...

 (the stage setting for dining scenes in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 movies) is now mostly used as a choir practice area, the relatively modern 300-year-old extension, now used as a cafeteria by staff and public alike, is today referred to as the refectory.

A cafeteria located in a television studio is often called a commissary. NBC's commissary, The Hungry Peacock, was often joked about by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

College cafeteria

A college cafeteria is a term in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 that denotes a cafeteria that is designed to serve college students at the university. In the UK the word refectory
Refectory
A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries...

is often used. Also see the different meanings of the word college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

 around the Anglosphere
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

. These cafeterias can be a part of a residence hall or in a separate building. Many of these colleges employ their own students to work in the cafeteria. The number of meals served to students varies from school to school, but is normally around 20 meals per week. Like normal cafeterias, a person will have a tray to select the food that they want, but instead of paying money, they pay beforehand by purchasing a meal plan.

The method of payment for college cafeterias is commonly in the form of a meal plan, whereby the patron pays a certain amount at the start of the semester and the details of the plan are stored on a computer system. Student ID cards are then used to access the meal plan. A meal plan is not necessary to eat at a college cafeteria however. Meal plans can vary widely in their details to best fit the needs of the students. Typically, the college tracks the student's usage of their plan by counting either the number of pre-defined meal servings, points, dollars, or number of buffet dinners. The plan may give the student a certain number of any of the above per week or semester and they may or may not roll over to the next week or semester.

Many schools offer several different options for using their meal plans. The main cafeteria is usually where most of the meal plan is used but smaller cafeterias, cafés, restaurants, bars, or even fast food chains located on campus may accept meal plans. A college cafeteria system often has a virtual monopoly on the students due to an isolated location or a requirement that residence contracts include a full meal plan. It is not uncommon for the entire food service operation to be outsourced to a managed services company such as Aramark
Aramark
Aramark Corporation, known commonly as Aramark, is an American foodservice, facilities, and clothing provider supplying businesses, educational institutions, sports facilities, federal and state prisons, and health care institutions. It is headquartered at the Aramark Tower in Center City,...

, Sodexo and Compass Group
Compass Group
Compass Group plc is a global contract foodservice and support services company headquartered near London, United Kingdom. It is the largest contract foodservice company in the world and has operations in over 50 countries...

 (under the Scolarest name in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

).

See also

  • Automat
    Automat
    An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drink are served by coin-operated and bill-operated vending machines.-Concept:Originally, the machines took only nickels...

  • Coffee service
    Coffee service
    Coffee service is a catch-all term for services related to the delivery of coffee to employees of a business at low or no cost to them. Providing coffee to employees is popular among employers since employees will likely not leave the workplace to purchase coffee, subsequently reducing lost work...

  • Café
    Café
    A café , also spelled cafe, in most countries refers to an establishment which focuses on serving coffee, like an American coffeehouse. In the United States, it may refer to an informal restaurant, offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches...

  • Coffeehouse
    Coffeehouse
    A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

  • Coffee shop
    Coffeehouse
    A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

  • Food court
    Food court
    A food court is generally an indoor plaza or common area within a facility that is contiguous with the counters of multiple food vendors and provides a common area for self-serve dining. Food courts may be found in shopping malls and airports, and in various regions may be a standalone development...

  • Hawker centre
    Hawker centre
    A hawker centre or cooked food centre is the name given to open-air complexes in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Riau Islands housing many stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive food...

  • Refectory
    Refectory
    A refectory is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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