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Sunday, 30 July 2017


Ma Yu Ching's Bucket Chicken House in Kaifeng, China is considered the world's oldest operating restaurant, first opening in 1153 AD. Having survived numerous wars and dynasty changes, the business is still serving noodles, rice, and roast chicken.

The first American eatery opened in Boston in 1653. Early Bostonians referred to such eating establishments as a "restorator".

The oldest restaurant in Europe still in operation, opened in 1725 in Madrid. The restaurant was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his wife, and was originally called Casa Botín. It is now named Sobrino de Botín.

Casa Botín, en Madrid (España

The artist Francisco de Goya worked in Cafe Botin as a waiter before he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

Cafe Botin and its specialty of cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig) are mentioned in the closing pages of Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises.

The French word 'restaurant' originally meant 'restoring' and was used for a fortifying broth. The modern idea of a restaurant – as well as the term itself – first appeared in Paris in the 1760s.

The first restaurant, by that name, was ran by a Parisian soup vendor Monsieur A. Boulanger, the owner of a Parisian cafe. Originally he was unable to make fully cooked dishes such as stews, as he didn't belong to the guild of caterers, the only ones allowed to sell them. The sign above his door advertised restoratives, or restaurants, referring to the soups and broths available within. However he decided to serve "pieds de mouton a la sauce poulette" (basically sheep's feet in white sauce enriched with egg yolks), then won the case against the protesting caterers because Parliament decreed that because the sauce was made separately and was poured onto the meat, his dish wasn't a stew. By around 1765 it had become the first establishment other than inns and taverns to offer a menu with a choice of dishes.

A French cook, Antoine Beauvilliers, founded in Paris in 1786 La Grande Taverne de Londres. The first luxury restaurant, the eating house was the first to list the dishes available on a menu and serve them at individual tables during fixed hours.

Before the French Revolution, aristocratic French households maintained luxurious culinary arrangements, but the Revolution reduced the number of private households offering employment. Consequently in Napoleonic France many chefs and cooks found employment in eating establishment kitchens or opened their own restaurant, of which there by the early 19th century there were 500 in Paris alone. Many of these won devoted followers among the French bourgeois, who were eager to display their elevated tastes in food and fashion.

Engraving from the title page of L'art du Cuisinier, Paris 1814

The earliest use of 'restaurant' in English was in 1806. Peoplee just said 'eating-house' before that.

Britain's first curry house, the Hindostanee Coffee House, opened in Portman Square, London in 1810. The owner, Dean Mahomet was an Indian was known as Mr Vindaloo.

The Hindostanee Coffee House was not a success. The menu wasn't popular and many customers felt misled, as despite the restaurant's name, it did not sell coffee.

The original Delmonico's opened in 1827 in a rented pastry shop at 23 William Street, New York City. It was opened by the brothers John and Peter Delmonico, from Ticino, Switzerland.

In 1831, the Delmonico brothers were joined by their nephew, Lorenzo Delmonico, who had arrived from Switzerland. Lorenzo became responsible for the restaurant's wine list and menu with the aim of introducing European standards to New Yorkers.

By the 1840s Delmonico's had become a New York chain of restaurants. Its fresh foods, large menu, and long hours, were becoming widely copied innovations that were promoting a restaurant culture in American cities.

Banquet menu in French for the 1883 Commemoration of Evacuation Day

Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans remains the same as the day it opened in 1844. The Big Easy institution still serves the same classic French-Creole cuisine, still embodies the same Old World style, and is still run by the descendants of the same French-born family that founded the place in the 1840s.

The first self-service restaurants appeared in San Francisco during the 1848–1855 California gold rush. A selection of free food was placed on the counter in saloons.

The first self-service restaurant on the East Coast of the U.S, the Exchange Buffet, was founded in 1885. Only men were allowed to eat there and the male customers ate standing up.

The first cafeteria was set up in the YWCA in Kansas City, Missouri in 1891. It provided cheap, self-service meals to working women and was modelled on a Chicago luncheon club for women where some aspects of self-service were already in practice.

An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drink are served by vending machines. The world's first automat was named Quisisana, which opened at 13 Leipziger strasse, Berlin, Germany in 1895.

The first automat, at 13 Leipziger strasse, Berlin, 

Frank Hardart and Joe Horn opened the first US Automat on June 9, 1902 at 818 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Food was in small glass door compartments with a slot for nickels to unlock the door to retrieve your food selection

In 1900 André Michelin (1853-1931) co-founder of the Michelin tire company, published his first guide for French motorists that would rate restaurants by awarding ‘Michelin stars’.

When France's Michelin tire company published its first restaurant guide, there were only 3,000 cars on the road in all of France. The guide was an attempt from Michelin to get people to travel more so that they would eventually come around to needing to buy more tires.

Denny’s was originally named “Danny’s Donuts” simply because the founders, Richard Jezak and Harold Butler, thought that “Danny’s” flowed well with “Donutts”. In 1956, a year after Jezak's departure from the then-6-store chain, Butler changed the concept, shifting it from a donut shop to a coffee shop. Danny's Donuts was renamed Danny's Coffee Shops and changed its operation to 24 hours.

Very first Denny's location in Lakewood California, 1953.

Danny's Coffee Shop was in close proximity to a Coffee Dan’s so in 1961, Butler decided to change the name to “Denny’s” because customers began confusing their restaurants with the competing restaurant chain.

The chain isn't named after anyone, Butler just swapped one letter to make Denny’s.

the world’s first revolving restaurant opened high atop the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.

The first revolving restaurant in the U.S., La Ronde, opened in 1961 in Honolulu, atop the Ala Moana Building.  La Ronde was soon followed by the Space Needle, built for the 1962 Worlds Fair in Seattle. The Top of the Needle restaurant, which opened on May 22, 1962, is the world's oldest revolving restaurant still in operation.

In 2015, a tiny Tokyo restaurant with only nine seats became the first ramen restaurant in the world to obtain a Michelin star.

In 2015 people spent more money at restaurants than on groceries for the first time ever according to the United States Commerce Department.


At El Diablo restaurant in the Canary Islands, food is cooked with the geothermal heat from an actual volcano.

Fife & Drum in Concord, Massachusetts is the only restaurant in the U.S. serving meals made by prisoners.

Singapore restaurant Ce La Vi offers an 18-course meal for $2 million, complete with $17,000 diamond-encrusted chopsticks.

Pyongyang is a chain of 130 restaurants owned by the North Korean government, which provides a source of income for the pariah state. Named after the capital of North Korea, the eateries are located in a dozen countries around the world. Signature dishes include ‘cold noodle’ (encrusted with ice), barbecued cuttlefish and stringy dangogi (dog meat) soup.

Lunch at a restaurant in Pyongyang

Ichiran Ramen is a Japan-based restaurant chain where customers eat alone behind partitions that separate them from other diners and staff.

There's a five-star restaurant at Antarctica's Concordia Station that is always headed by one of Italy's finest chefs.


There are more French restaurants in New York City than in Paris.

Restaurants in Japan give you moist towels and green tea before your meal.

The founder of Popeyes joked that he was "too poor" to afford an apostrophe for the restaurant's name.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant chain.

The “A” in "Chick-fil-A" is capitalized to indicate that the food the restaurant serves is of the best quality.

The Bawabet Dimashq Restaurant in Damascus has 6,014 seats, making it the world's biggest.

Sources Food For Thought by Ed Pearce, Daily Express

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