Skip to Content

Fast-food restaurant

« Back to Glossary Index

**History of Fast-Food Restaurants:**
– First self-service restaurant opened in Berlin in 1896.
– Automat introduced in New York in 1912, popularizing take-out food.
– White Castle established in 1921, standardized fast-food production.
– McDonald’s founded in 1940 as a barbecue drive-in.
– Big Mac introduced in 1967; Burger King Whopper in 1957.

**United States Fast-Food Innovations:**
– Automat in New York in 1912 revolutionized fast food.
– White Castle in Kansas in 1916 standardized food production.
– McDonald’s Speedee Service System refined fast-food operations.
– McDonald’s Hamburger University established for training.
– McDonald’s iconic Big Mac introduced in 1967.

**Global Expansion of Fast-Food Chains:**
– McDonald’s founded in 1940, now a multinational corporation.
KFC established in 1952, with outlets worldwide.
– Fast-food chains like McDonald’s and KFC have global presence.
– Fast-casual restaurants offer a blend of fast food and sit-down dining.
– Food trucks cater to workers at various locations.

**Impact of Fast-Food Restaurants on Dining Culture:**
– Fast-food restaurants offer meat-sweet diets with limited menus.
– Food cooked in bulk, kept hot, and packaged for quick service.
– Standardized ingredients and supply chains ensure consistency.
– Fast-casual restaurants bridge fast food and traditional dining.
– Catering trucks popular for on-the-go meals at work sites.

**Technological and Culinary Evolution of Fast-Food Industry:**
– Fast-food industry recognized in 1951 by Merriam-Webster.
– Various fast-food concepts like fast-casual and food trucks emerged.
– Fast-food chains like McDonald’s and KFC evolved into multinational corporations.
– Fast-food culture influenced by American-founded chains.
– Fast-food industry continues to innovate in menu offerings and service.

A fast-food restaurant, also known as a quick-service restaurant (QSR) within the industry, is a specific type of restaurant that serves fast-food cuisine and has minimal table service. The food served in fast-food restaurants is typically part of a "meat-sweet diet", offered from a limited menu, cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot, finished and packaged to order, and usually available for take away, though seating may be provided. Fast-food restaurants are typically part of a restaurant chain or franchise operation that provides standardized ingredients and/or partially prepared foods and supplies to each restaurant through controlled supply channels. The term "fast food" was recognized in a dictionary by Merriam–Webster in 1951.

A fast-food restaurant in the port of Malinska, Croatia
A Hesburger fast-food restaurant in Tapiola, Espoo, Finland
A McDonald's restaurant in New York City
A Café de Coral restaurant in Hong Kong
A fish and chip shop in Broadstairs, Kent, England

Arguably, fast-food restaurants originated in the United States with White Castle in 1921.[unreliable source?] Today, American-founded fast-food chains such as McDonald's (est. 1940) and KFC (est. 1952) are multinational corporations with outlets across the globe.

Variations on the fast-food restaurant concept include fast-casual restaurants and catering trucks. Fast-casual restaurants have higher sit-in ratios, offering a hybrid between counter-service typical at fast-food restaurants and a traditional table service restaurant. Catering trucks (also called food trucks) often park just outside worksites and are popular with factory workers.[citation needed]

« Back to Glossary Index