The history of restaurants and famous restaurant chains

Clerk at Soda Fountain
Clerk at Soda Fountain. L.O.C.

The First Restaurant

The public dining room that came ultimately to be known as the restaurant originated in France, and the French have continued to make major contributions to the restaurant's development. The first restaurant proprietor is believed to have been one A. Boulanger, a soup vendor, who opened his business in Paris in 1765.


In 1891, the YWCA of Kansas City, Mo., established what food-industry historians consider the first cafeteria.

Drive-In Restaurants

"The drive-in restaurant concept, where patrons are served food in their vehicles, dates back to pre-World War II. The concept reached its height of popularity in the early 1950's." The first drive-in restaurant opened in Glendale, California in 1936.

McDonald's Happy Meals

Ray Kroc was the pioneer of the fast-food industry with his worldwide McDonald's enterprise (1954). "The founder and builder of McDonald's Corporation, proved himself an industrial pioneer no less capable than Henry Ford. He revolutionized the American restaurant industry by imposing discipline on the production of hamburgers, french fries, and milk shakes." In 1977, the first McDonald's "Happy Meal" was regionally tested in St. Louis. The first nationwide Happy Meal was served in 1979, part of a promotion called "Circus Wagon" (Source)

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Bellis, Mary. "Restaurants." ThoughtCo, Feb. 3, 2016, Bellis, Mary. (2016, February 3). Restaurants. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "Restaurants." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 12, 2017).