cafeteria

cafeteria
/kaf'i tear"ee euh/, n.
1. a restaurant in which patrons wait on themselves, carrying their food to tables from counters where it is displayed and served.
2. a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines or where food brought from home may be eaten.
[1830-40, Amer.; < AmerSp cafetería café, equiv. to Sp cafeter(a) coffeemaker ( < F caf(f)etière; café COFFEE + -ière, fem. of -ier -IER2; t appar. by analogy with words such as bouquetière flower seller, from bases ending in t) + -ía -IA]

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      self-service restaurant in which customers select various dishes from an open-counter display. The food is usually placed on a tray, paid for at a cashier's station, and carried to a dining table by the customer. The modern cafeteria, designed to facilitate a smooth flow of patrons, is particularly well-adapted to the needs of institutions—schools, hospitals, corporations—attempting to serve large numbers of people efficiently and inexpensively. In addition to providing quick service, the cafeteria requires fewer service personnel than most other commercial eating establishments.

      In 1891 the YWCA of Kansas City, Mo., established what food-industry historians consider the first cafeteria. This institution, founded to provide low-cost meals for working women, was patterned after a Chicago luncheon club for women where some aspects of self-service were already in practice. Cafeterias catering to the public opened in several U.S. cities in the 1890s, but cafeteria service did not become widespread until shortly after the turn of the century, when it became the accepted method of providing food for employees of factories and other large businesses.

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  • cafeteria — cafétéria [ kafeterja ] n. f. VAR. cafeteria • 1925; caféterie déb. XXe; angl. amér. cafeteria, de l esp. « boutique où l on vend du café » ♦ Lieu public (souvent en libre service) où l on peut consommer du café, des boissons (surtout non… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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