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The History of and Comparison of the Food Service Industry

The foodservice industry has been around for thousands of years. In fact its earliest records can be dated during the stone-age. During Pangaea the first recorded multi-person feeding was in the Denmark/Orkney Isles area. Around the same time there have been documents of Swiss lake dwellers eating in groups by 5000 BC. Later in 500 BC Egyptian and Assyrian records showed evidence of great feast that sported both beer and wine. Since then more evidences of lavish banquets and feats have been discovered.

From the stone-age to the ancient civilizations, to the age of the Romans to international renaissance eras large and small food-service events have dotted different cultural histories including right here in the states. Even before the US gained its independence, the colonies had many eateries. Places like general stores often also would sell food for people to eat right in the shop. Today many places have included the idea of shopping and eating like Macy’s or Target. Many department stores have contracted other business to sell the food.

For example Target might contract Subway to sell in their stores. As time progressed more public places such as hospitals started to serve often low-grade meals to those coming and going or working there. Other places such as colleges would serve their students in a “family-style” where the food would be brought out and the students would pass the dishes around. After World War II the food service industry really took off. Institutions, schools, and even non-food related businesses started to serve. Another thing that took off was the fast-food or quick-service idea.

This included things like McDonalds or Wendy’s. Other business like Golden Corral incorporated the concept of buffets with to-go or doggie-bags. In each of these places the development of menus has been vital to the success of the establishment. Menus are simply a list of items that an establishment serves. This can encompass anything from desserts to beverages, from appetizers to entrees. There are many different styles of menus but possibly the two most common types are a la carte and table d’hote.

An a la carte menu is the kind seen in most “middle-class” restaurants. It will have the list of items being sold and the prices near each item. A table d’hote menu is the opposite and is seen usually at catering events and/or high class restaurants. The menu is usually already determined and served in course stages. The price is also pre-set meaning that each person pays a set amount and then is served usually a number of courses. Different segments of the industry will offer usually an a la carte menu because it is faster.

Commercial operations such as Heidelberg will have a board to show what they offer and what each item costs so that the customer can buy individually. A school however has a meal planned out and the students would pay for it as a meal. Today there are many factors that affect the food service industry. Things such as the economy and fads are a huge factor because it will dictate how the consumers will buy. Although it is relatively easy to get into this industry the real trick is to provide the customers with satisfying results.

It is important to always try and exceed the customers’ expectations. For example even if a breakfast menu does not offer hollandaise sauce if a customer asks for it on their poached eggs instead of a server saying “no” right away they should ask the chef in charge to see if they can make some. In this way the customer is happy because they got what they wanted, the chef gets to showcase their skill, the server gets a nice tip, and the establishment gets a repeating customer. Without good service the establishment is almost guaranteed to be a flop.

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