Skip to Main Content



The concept of selling food for profit goes back to ancient civilizations, including ancient Rome and China, where street vendors sold bread and wine to people in cities. The growth of the earliest restaurants coincided with the growth of cities. People would travel for days to bring their wares to the markets in the Roman Empire and Ancient China. Along the way, they would stop at countryside inns, which served meals for travelers. During those days there were no menus. The proprietor cooked what he or she had on hand.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, tavern and inn owners prepared meals as well. Specialties depended on the specific part of Europe in which the inns were located. Food during that time was generally not gourmet, but consisted of simples dishes such as soups, stews, shepherd’s pie, sausage, etc.

Christopher Columbus’s exploratory voyages to what is now America increased global trade and introduced new foods to Europe. Soon, coffee, tea, and chocolate were served with beer and wine at eateries.

In the 17th century, wealthy people began to hire caterers to take their meals to private salons instead of serving them in the main house.

Fine dining restaurants started after the French Revolution, when unemployed chefs opened up little restaurants in Paris complete with menus, fine china, linen tablecloths, and cutlery. The trend continued and fine dining spread throughout Europe and the new world. Today, there are fine dining restaurants in almost every country.

Eventually, other types of restaurants opened as well. In the 1990s many families had two working parents. With that came an increase in people eating out because it was much easier to eat at a restaurant than take the time to prepare a meal. 

Restaurant chains such as Applebee's, Outback Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, and Olive Garden now offer moderately priced meals and cater to the middle-class. There is no question that Americans eat out more now than ever. The food and beverage industry is huge, and there are many opportunities for hosts and hostesses.