The idea of dining together started way before a dining table even existed. The experience of sitting together and enjoying a meal always transcended where it was taking place and brilliantly became the exchange of ideas and good company over something everybody enjoys; food.
Mandarin Oriental Restaurant in Hong Kong
Where it all Started
In ancient homes people lived in single room households where they would sleep, eat and gather all in the same space. Later the need to have a designated area for “only eating” arised. Giving dining rooms its humble beginnings.
food preparation in Roman Empire
The most primitive form of restaurants started in the Roman Empire and Ancient China where farmers would travel for days in order to offer their crops and livestock in exchange for money or the equivalent at that time. These resting spots brought together many travelers where they would have resting rooms as well as a big dining hall for everyone. In these spots there was no menu each night people would eat whatever was available, now known as “chef’s choice”.
In the middle ages the upper class had specific dining areas with big tables and chairs where they would “dine and wine”.
The Beginning of Restaurants as we Know Them
The first restaurant as we know them today was opened in… drum rolls… Paris (to be expected right?!) In 1765 a French chef opened the first restaurant which actually had different options of foods and offered soup as a first course, here the beginning of multiple course dinners and fine dining. The word restaurant itself was not used until the 1780’s when also in Paris opened “La Grande Taverne de Londres” where there was a sitting area, a menu, a wine cellar and waiters. The four basic elements that compose the simplest idea of a restaurant.
Restaurant in Paris during French Revolution
Image from: FFD LTD
Following the French Revolution restaurants in its more modern form expanded all through Europe and The United States where in the 20th century it became one of the leading industries and employers in the country.
Restaurant in Paris
original photo title: restaurante-boheuf-uiacc80-la-mode-vale
Now fast forward to modern times restaurants and the idea of meeting people out for food has revolutionized the way people dine. With thousands of options available to satisfy all taste buds even the pickiest, restaurants and culinary experiences range in hundreds of options from tuna tataki and sashimi to multiple steak cuts with countless wine and cocktail options, it’s truly a flavor party.
Interesting Side Note
On a personal note, the word Mogogo comes from the idea of antique dining and sharing meals. The word itself is an antique Ethiopian oven made out of clay with a metal lid that is still used today by many to feed their families. It has as a principle to feed many while cutting by 90% the fuel consumption and fumes compared to regular ovens. The idea is that entire families gather around the Mogogo and enjoy a meal together.
Video by: Die Ofenmacher
Restaurants have created a space for people to sit and share memories over delicious meals. The purpose of restaurants remains the same; bring people together. Early restaurants might not have had all options that restaurants offer now but it stays true to its core; sharing. Which continues to be the essence of why people go out for a bite.