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Professional cooks are called chefs, with there being various finer distinctions (e.g. Most restaurants (other than fast food restaurants and cafeterias) will have various waiting staff to serve food, beverages and alcoholic drinks, including busboys who remove used dishes and cutlery.
Many railways, the world over, also cater for the needs of travellers by providing railway refreshment rooms, a form of restaurant, at railway stations.
In the 2000s, a number of travelling restaurants, specifically designed for tourists, have been created. A restaurant's proprietor is called a restaurateur, this derives from the French verb restaurer, meaning "to restore".
The first use of the word to refer to a public venue where one can order food is believed to be in the 18th century. Boulanger established a business selling soups and other "restaurants" ("restoratives").
Additionally, while not the first establishment where one could order food, or even soups, it is thought to be the first to offer a menu of available choices Restaurants are classified or distinguished in many different ways.
Typically, at mid- to high-priced restaurants, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready. In some restaurants, such as workplace cafeterias, there are no waiters; the customers use trays, on which they place cold items that they select from a refrigerated container and hot items which they request from cooks, and then they pay a cashier before they sit down.
Another restaurant approach which uses few waiters is the buffet restaurant.
The restaurant as it is contemporarily understood did not exist until the end of the 18th century.
Sitting down in a public restaurant specifically for a meal, with a waiter and a fixed menu is a relatively recent concept in culinary history.
Probably growing out of the tea houses and taverns that catered to travellers, Kaifeng's restaurants blossomed into an industry catering to locals as well as people from other regions of China.
There is a direct correlation between the growth of the restaurant businesses and institutions of theatrical stage drama, gambling and prostitution which served the burgeoning merchant middle class during the Song dynasty.