Types of Restaurants and Their Characteristics

A restaurant is a place where food & beverages are sold & served to customers. There are different types of restaurants that have evolved to meet the dynamic demands of consumers. The following are some well-known types of restaurants & their special characteristics:

Bistro: it is a small restaurant that serves simple, moderately priced meals & wine. Braised meets are typical dishes that are provided in a bistro. It may not have printed menus.

Brasserie: formal restaurant which serves drinks, single dishes & other meals. The waiters are in traditional uniform of long apron & waistcoats.

Coffee shop: mainly serves snacks & beverages 24 hours a day; however it may serve all the three meals. This concept has come from the USA. A ‘cover’ is a term referring to a place setting with necessary cutlery, crockery & glassware required at the beginning of the service for one person. Though the main feature is 24-hour operation, some coffee shops may close early, depending on their location.

Specialty Restaurant: it serves specialty dishes which are its strength & contribute to the brand image. It operates during luncheon & dinner hours, between noon & 3 PM & between 7 PM & 11 PM. The ambience & décor of the restaurant reflect the theme of the specialty restaurant. The dishes of a particular region of a country or a particular set of people are also termed as ethnic cuisine.

Fine Dining Restaurant: this kind of restaurant primarily caters to the requirement of the affluent market segment which wants to experience fine dining. The restaurant may either offer dishes of one particular region or country or exotic dishes from various cuisines, wines, spirits & digestives. It opens mostly during dinner time. The ambience & décor of the restaurant will be elegant & rich. The wait staff employed is skilled & has a sound knowledge of the dishes served. The restaurant employs sommeliers to serve wines & other alcoholic beverages.

Popular Restaurant: this type of restaurant is informal, yet hygienically kept & it is located in a busy area such as bus stands, railway stations, shopping area & so on, catering to the requirements of the middle class & the customers who are in a hurry. The menu may either be displayed on a board at a prominent place or printed & laminated. It operates from 7 AM to 11 PM. The food is plated in the kitchen & carried to the table on a tray & served. The service standards are low & informal. Space is utilized to the maximum to accommodate more covers. The seat turnover is very high but the average revenue per cover is low.

During busy lunch hours, these restaurants serve business lunch, mini-lunch, & thali meals in a separate area to speed up service.

Dhaba: it is a roadside food stall found on national & state highways, mainly catering to the requirements of heavy vehicle crew. It specializes in ounjabi cuisine & tandoor cooking, serving very limited dishes, which are freshly prepared. The service is very informal & there is hardly any cutlery used. The dishes served here are inexpensive & taste like home-made food.

Fast food joint: the fast food concept was first introduced in the USA & now it has become popular around the world. It is characterized by the speed of service & the affordable price of the menu items. Changes in eating habits, non-availability of time to wait at the table & eat, increase in the number of working women, advancement in food processing technology, growth of teenage market, & so on, have contributed to the success of fast food operations. It is located in very busy area.

Rotisserie: this type of restaurant specializes in grilled or roast meat, poultry, & fish, which are prepared in front of the guests.

Barbeque restaurant: the marinated pieces of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, paneer, & so on, are inserted into skewers & cooked over live charcoal or electric griller. It is generally located near a swimming pool, roof top, lawn, sea side, & so on, & is open during evening hours.

Night club: it operates during the night & offers dinner, dance, & live entertainment. Cabarets or floor shows are the main attraction of the night club. Guests are required to wear formal wear.

Night clubs levy an entry fee.

Discotheque: it operates during night hours. It provides a dance floor for guest to dance on. Special sound & lightning effect is created for an appropriate ambience. Drinks, especially beer, & snacks are made available during the operations. The service is very informal. It is patronized mostly by the youth & couples. The entry is limited to a certain number of guests according to the floor/room capacity & an entry fee is levied.

Ice Cream parlor: it serves different kinds of ice creams-sundae, coupe, bombe, cassata, & so on. These ice creams are stored in ice cream containers & are kept in refrigerated displays with see through glass. The parlors may either be a franchisee or an independent one making its own varieties of ice creams. The seating arrangements & service are very informal. Guests may either eat in the premises or have it packed & carry.

Cafe: this is a restaurant of French origin, mainly serving coffee & snacks. The French colonies in India, but served Indian snacks such as vada, samosas, bonda, & so on, along with coffee & pastries. The customers are served at the table following the American style which increases the seat turnover, but the average revenue per cover is low due to the lower pricing of dishes.

Cafeteria: the traditional cafeteria system consists of a straight line of counters containing a variety of hot & cold dishes. The cashier who is at the end of the counter makes bills for the items selected & collects payment. This form is widely followed in institutional & industry catering establishments.

In modern ‘ free flow cafeteria’ system, the counters are segregated according to the type of dishes offered-hot or cold, appetizers, soups, breads, sandwiches, entrees, salads, pastas & so on. In most cafeteria-style operations in India, guests make payment at the counter beforehand for items they want to eat & collect them against the bill at the appropriate counters. Cafeterias are situated in railway stations, cinema halls, shopping complexes, college premises, office premises, & so on, where the guest expects quick service.

Food Court: it refers to a number of independent food stalls, each serving items of food. The customers order the food items they want to have & consume them at a common dining area. The types of dishes offered represent local cuisine & dishes that are popular globally. Food courts are found in big shopping complexes, entertainment complexes, amusement parks, airports, & so on where there is a heavy traffic of customers.

Kiosk: it is small permanent or temporary structure on a sidewalk from which items such as coffee, tea, chocolates, pastries, savories & so on, may be sold. Most kiosks do not have seating provision.

Drive-in: customers drive in, park their vehicles at a parking lot, & remain seated in their vehicles. The waiters go to the customers with menu cards, collect orders, & deliver the food items on specially designed trays & the customers remain parked while they eat.

Oyster Bar: it is a restaurant that specializes in the serving of fresh oysters. The oysters are opened or shelled behind the counter, within the sight of guests. Fresh oysters are served on a bed of crushed ice with oyster cruet, brown bread, & butter.

Pub: it mainly serves various kinds of beer, especially draught beer, & snacks.

Bars: it offers all kinds of spirits such as whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, brandy, tequila, wines, & beers. Hotels & restaurants have an additional bar in the food service area/restaurant to dispense wines, beers, & spirits during the service, called a dispense bar.

Carvery: it is restaurant serving roast meat & poultry, which are carved at the carving counter by a carver in the presence of guests. Table d’hôte menu of three or four courses with roast meat or poultry as the main course is offered.

The Restaurant U-Turn: Reverse a Restaurants Poor Reputation With an Action Plan That Works!

Have you ever used a GPS and passed your destination? Does the voice tell you to make a “legal U-turn as soon as possible?” Or does it direct you to go around the next block? I know that this has happened to me. Sometimes you just go down the wrong path. It doesn’t mean you can’t turn around and get back on track to where you need to be. It’s the same in the restaurant industry. Maybe you made some wrong turns or missed some opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. You can get back on track. It requires a great deal of work and determination, but you can manage it.

A restaurant that has a poor reputation has a unique opportunity to redeem themselves in their community. Simply because your restaurant has a negative standing in the community does not mean you can’t turn things around for the better.

How do I recognize if my restaurant is performing poorly?

  • Are you losing sales daily?
  • Is your bottom line in the RED?
  • Do you receive a great deal of customer complaints?
  • Is your dining room half full during peak times?
  • Do you receive negative comment cards?
  • Are you finding it difficult to retain staff?
  • Do you get negative ratings from the health department?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may be at serious risk. Most people may tell you to close your doors, and start over from the beginning. Realistically, you are already losing money and shutting your doors could result in a total loss. It is best to stay open and sit down with your management staff and supervisors and create a working action plan on how to fix your issues. Make a plan for each issue and set up a time frame for how long you have to fix that issue. Remember, each day that you wait, you are losing more money.

This is what you should do:

  1. Gather the owners, managers, supervisors and key staff members to discuss the issues holding back the success of your restaurant.

    • Use their feedback to prepare a list of what needs to be fixed in your restaurant.
    • Prioritize the most important to the least important issues to fix.
    • Have these people take some time to brainstorm ideas on how to fix the issues.
  2. Set up an action plan.

    • Start with the biggest issue and have the owners, directors, managers and supervisors brainstorm ideas on how to repair that problem.
    • Make sure your action plan is realistic, has clear actions that build upon each other; the actions should be measurable, and have a time frame for completion.
    • Assign and divide up the action items among the owners, directors, managers, supervisors and key employees.
    • Giving yourself and your managers a deadline is important to make progress.
  3. Implement the action plan.

    • Assign each person’s specific responsibilities to fix this issue.
    • If the first action plan doesn’t make progress, don’t give up. Just tweak the current approach, try a different approach, or move on to another issue that could be making this issue difficult to fix.
    • If someone is not doing his/her part, then discuss why it isn’t working and determine what will help that person to fully participate. This may also be the opportunity to see if one or more of the managers or employees are actually causing some of the issues.
  4. If you find a manager or employee is causing one or more of the issues, you have several options.

    • Verbally discuss your concerns with that person and ask them for how they would like to improve themselves. Offer suggestions if they aren’t ready to come up with their own ideas. Discuss the time frame to correct the issues and hold them accountable.

      • Ideas could be: additional training, a different job role, adjusting their schedule to a less busy time to work on the changes, attitude adjustments or whatever fits that situation
      • Getting their input should help them follow through on changing their behavior
    • If the behavior does not change within the specified time period, you may need a write-up on the employee with a written plan of action to correct the issue. Have the person sign the action plan and agree to follow through on it within the time specified.
    • If the behavior continues with the written plan you can either do a second write-up or even consider termination of the employee. Make sure you keep a written paper trail to protect yourself and keep them accountable. If you do nothing, you are condoning their behavior and causing a negative domino effect that could result in even bigger problems and more employees who are not following policies you have set up.

Like a piece of a pie section out what you would like to fix first. Fix one slice of the pie before going on to the second slice of the pie. If you take on too many slices at once, you will get overwhelmed and frustrated. This will result in failure. It took some time to get to this level, so take the time you need to fix it.

If you are going down the wrong path, then maybe it is time to make a U-turn! Brainstorm to discover your issues. Come up with an action plan. Implement your action plan. Put your restaurant on the right path!