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different types of restaurants including fine dining

Your guide to the most common types of restaurants

By Nadine Hashem

If we wanted to look at the restaurant sector in today’s world and its different types, it’s kind of head-scratching.

Recently many new concepts have emerged in this sector to accommodate the market and the new demand patterns, especially from millennials.


After the pandemic, many restaurants have altered their services and styles with all the regulations and supply shortages dominating the food & beverage sector. We are left now with many concepts and styles, cooking methods and sizes from big chains to small local shops, fine dining to fast food, take-outs to dine-in.


Regardless of these different concepts we mainly have two categories: table service and counter service.

The names explain themselves but if you want to open a restaurant, things aren’t this simple.


Defining your restaurant type is essential from the beginning since it dictates every aspect of your choices from décor to the food offered and the marketing tools you aim to use to raise awareness about your brand.


What are the different types of restaurants?


Restaurants are mainly categorized in these different types.


Fine dining restaurants


The higher quality more sophisticated restaurant model that should wow their customers with their finest wine selection and finest steak cuts, the ambience, and food plating techniques.


These restaurants should offer upscale atmosphere with carefully selected music and lighting.

Their prices are on the higher end conforming to what they have to offer. Certain restaurants enforce a dress code and everything including the table set-up tells you that you are dining in a fine elevated place. They are usually an old-age tradition with many and strict rules for their staff that start from the moment they greet and seat you. They usually require prior reservations and people keep them for their most special occasions such as anniversaries.


They require higher investment to afford the more expensive supplies but they are more lasting.


Casual restaurants


The full-service restaurants where customers are seated by a server but they differ from fine dining restaurants in the laid back and more comfortable atmosphere. They are less pricey with less formalities and rules and faster table turnover. They please more crowd especially younger ones with their tried classic dishes and their comfort food. They are usually family-friendly and offer some sort of entertainment like TV.


Fast-casual restaurants


Wait, what?!!


What is fast-casual restaurant stye? The combination of the fast service offered by fast food restaurants with the more varied, healthier food options that still offer a comfortable seated eating is what characterizes fast-casual restaurants. Restaurants like Chipotle fall under this category. Food items are less fancy but they offer hearty portion sizes and a wide selection of sandwiches.

Their service is quick and limited meaning that you won’t be greeted nor seated by a server when you first come in and you usually order and pay at the counter so they require smaller staff and higher table turnover. They offer off-premises and on-premises eating for more convenient services.


Fast food restaurants


The speed of service is the main difference between fast food (QSR) and fast-casual restaurants. They have premade and frozen meals that are quickly prepared. Their menu is limited to a selection of sandwiches, burgers and few dessert options, maybe a salad or 2 and few sides.


They are franchised with multiple and international locations. They offer the most convenient and affordable prices with take-outs and drive-thru options. They usually open for longer hours and require limited staff.


Seating is available but limited and they serve higher number of customers than all above types.


Cafes and coffee shops


The variety of beverages especially coffee and the wide selection of tea is what is it all about. They serve cold cut sandwiches with vegan options, parfaits and granola breakfast that are premade.


Their concept is borrowed from Europe. They have different dessert and pastry options that go perfectly with coffee and tea and even smoothies.


It’s an ideal work place especially for remote workers and even business meeting and job interviews. They are also perfect for students who can get free Wi-Fi and do their schoolwork and research while enjoying their favorite beverage and maybe a side healthy sandwich.


They are also perfect for friends’ gatherings that want to share a bite over a heart-warming cup of coffee of tea.


Their prices range from fair to pricey depending on the coffee shop you own. They range from international chains like Starbucks and Second Cup to small town shops.


Pubs and brewery


The main focus is on alcoholic beverages that are people’s favorite especially in weekends and after work gatherings. They offer happy hours and ladies’ nights. Their menu might be restricted to few appetizers and a wider selection with different categories.

They usually have a specialty in a certain alcoholic beverage such as wines, cocktails.


Food trucks


Quick bites that include hot dogs, tacos, subs, burgers, waffles and pastas are perfect for late night cravings after a long night out especially for the younger crowd. They may offer portable seating options depending on where they’re parked.


With quick service and affordable prices, you can please a wide selection of people who want delicious and convenient bites. They allow you to be mobile and participate in seasonal events and carnivals.

Once you gain popularity, you might opt to open a restaurant if you have enough capital.



Virtual, ghost and delivery-only restaurants


One of the newest categories that are introduced especially after the pandemic and they are strictly a delivery or pick-up services.


Sales are performed digitally through third-party apps or in-house applications or websites. The operation costs are lower and there is no big space needed. All that you need is a kitchen.  


They are gaining popularity, especially with the increasing demand for delivery.


For more details on virtual restaurants, read this blog.




With a very thin margin, these restaurants rely on volume and a small staff to make a profit. They offer generous meals at a fixed price and they are usually a good choice for families that need affordable prices.


The purpose of these restaurants is to serve the highest number of people at a specific time.

They have self-serve food stations where guests can fill their plates. If you plan to open a buffet, food costs will remain a concern that you can make up for the less costly operations and staff count requirements.


How to categorize a restaurant?


  • Service type (full service, limited service, or self-service)
  • Atmosphere (the ambience with the music and décor)
  • Price point (expensive, affordable, inexpensive)
  • The quality and variety of food offered



Opening a restaurant is a profitable business but it is challenging and requires constant effort. Choosing your favorite style depends on many factors, especially the amount of investment you have but mostly on your passion. Technology will help you in any concept you choose so make sure to account for it.

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