Fast food restaurants aren't like traditional sit-down restaurants. Naturally, as their name implies, food is served much faster. These restaurants often boast of getting food to their customers in less than a minute after an order is taken. They also have fewer choices of menu items. Furthermore, fast food restaurants are known for the consistency of their products. If you order a Big Mac, it will taste the same in Toledo, Little Rock, Juneau, and Honolulu.
One of the big differences between these two types of restaurants is that customers in fast food restaurants are doing most of the work that waiters do in sit-down restaurants. Customers carry their food to tables, arrange it on the tables, and even clean up after themselves when they have finished eating.
Fast food restaurants are also more automated. There is equipment that will cook hamburgers so that no one is needed to flip the burger. Kitchens are also very efficiently organized since only a few items have to be prepared.
Because far less labor is required in fast food restaurants, prices are lower. Yet even with lower prices, fast food restaurants are usually more profitable than most sit-down restaurants. Fast food restaurants may appear different from each other-obviously, there are differences in menu, interior decoration, and architecture-but all really follow the same pattern: quick counter service, limited menus, and self-service by the customer.
The Popularity of Fast Food
Even though there are those who look down on fast food restaurants, the people of the United States are major consumers of fast food. Americans are now buying one out of every three meals away from their homes, and a great number of these meals are being eaten at fast food restaurants. Today's adults are regular fast food consumers. Furthermore, their children have been raised on fries, burgers, and shakes. The fast food eating habit is here to stay and is becoming stronger with each generation.
Starting the Day with Fast Foods
Breakfast, especially take-out or drive-thru, has become popular with people rushing off to work in the morning. The traditional bacon-and-eggs or cereal breakfast is now quite often replaced with some type of sandwich which combines eggs with cheese and sausage or bacon. Depending on the fast food restaurant, these sandwiches are served on buns, croissants, biscuits, or English muffins.
Fast food breakfasts are ready within minutes of a customer's arrival at a restaurant. With their breakfast in a bag, people are able to eat on buses and in cars as they rush to work. Many workers even spend the first few minutes on the job eating their fast food breakfast.
On the weekends, busy people get their breakfast at these restaurants before they begin to do errands or engage in some kind of recreational activity. And families frequently take their children to fast food restaurants before driving them to a Little League game or the roller rink. On Sundays, the entire family may enjoy a breakfast of pancakes, French toast, or ham and eggs at these restaurants.
Breaking for Lunch at Fast Food Restaurants
Lunch is the time when the greatest number of people patronizes fast food restaurants. As many as 20 percent of the adults in the United States eat lunch at these restaurants. The lunch hours between 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. are the busiest times. Fast food restaurants actually do about 40 percent of their business during these hours. This is the time when the most fast food workers are employed, and lines can be lengthy for customers at some outlets. In order to be convenient for both workers and shoppers, the industry has placed restaurants in office buildings and shopping malls.
The Dinner Trade
With both parents working and needing to get a meal on the table fast, more and more families are having their dinners in fast food restaurants. Singles who keep their refrigerators bare often stop in these restaurants on their way home. And many senior citizens also enjoy fast food dinners. Sixteen percent of the adults in this country eat dinner at fast food restaurants.
The Place to Celebrate Birthdays
Homes aren't the only place to celebrate birthdays. Many families are finding it far easier to celebrate them in fast food restaurants. Everything is arranged, and the house is not wrecked. Some restaurants are happy to supply birthday cakes, hats, and horns along with fast food items. Employees may even be assigned to play games with young birthday party goers. Indeed, fast food restaurants are becoming a part of so many aspects of American life.