What is a Full Service Restaurant?

Instructor: Allison Tanner
This lesson defines what a full-service restaurant is. It also provides examples of the types of full-service restaurants and describes their key characteristics.

Full Service

Mandy, a new server at Super Steaks is watching her trainer, Tom, run around taking orders, delivering food, cashing out tickets, and more. Coming from fast food, this full-service restaurant is completely new to Mandy. Tom finally gets a short break and notices Mandy's shock. He pulls her aside and tells her that in full-service restaurants, the guests are served by the wait staff at tables, booths, and in some cases, counters. He explains that the wait staff are the servers or a team member who takes the lead caring for the guests.

Tom grabs a menu and shows Mandy that in full-service restaurants, guests are given a broad range of options depending on the type of food. Because most guests eat and drink at the restaurant, their food and drinks are delivered by the server, and they pay after they have finished the meal. Tom goes on to explain that some full-service restaurants, like Super Steaks, offer 'to-go' ordering for guests who wish to eat the food at home, but this isn't consistently practiced.

The key thing to remember is that in full-service restaurants, the guests are cared for by a server from the moment they sit down until the moment they leave.

Key Characteristics

In order to help Mandy better understand full-service restaurants, Tom tells her that the most common characteristics of full-service restaurants include:

  • The guests are seated by a host (although this can occasionally vary)
  • They can order from a broad range of menu items
  • A server takes the order and brings food and drinks to the table
  • Meals are paid for after they are eaten
  • Guests are served throughout the duration of the experience

Keeping this in mind, Tom explains that you can easily differentiate a full-service restaurant from a limited-service restaurant. He tells Mandy that in limited-service restaurants, guests usually do not have servers and they pay for their food before they can eat it.

Types of Full-Service

After a long night of work, Mandy asks Tom what differentiates Super Steaks from five-star restaurants, because they are both defined as full-service.

Tom tells her that is a great question and goes on to explain that there are two types of full service restaurants:

  1. Fine Dining
  2. Casual Dining

Tom goes on to explain that most people differentiate between fine dining and casual dining because fine dining is considered expensive and casual dining is considered affordable. He reminds Mandy that there can be a whole range of prices, but this is how people generally think about the two types of restaurants.

Casual Dining

To explain further, Tom walks Mandy around the restaurant. He shows her that Super Steaks uses regular glass cups, white plates, and that the silverware is wrapped in paper napkins. Pointing to the tables, he shows that they have ketchup bottles and sugar packets on the table. Tom explains that this is casual dining because it provides moderately priced food with a decent set up that anyone can feel comfortable eating at. Most of the time in casual dining:

  • You don't make reservations
  • There is a broad range of meals to choose from
  • Service can be chatty
  • Table turnover, or the time the guests are at the table, is usually an hour or less

Chuckling, Tom tells Mandy that the best part of working for Super Steaks is that they are casual. They get to wear jeans, chat with customers, and have fast turnover.

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