The Rise of the restaurant and the fate of hospitality

Michael Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to examine the early history of restaurants, as invented in Paris around 1766, deciding whether a market orientation ruled out genuine hospitality. Design/methodology/approach: Contemporary accounts, such as Brillat-Savarin's section "On Restaurateurs" in The Physiology of Taste in 1825, are considered against a definition of hospitality as a household's provision of care for non-members. Findings: The restaurateurs' innovation was selling individualized meals within the emerging consumer market. While Brillat-Savarin recognized the commercial cynicism of even such brilliant exponents as Antoine Beauvilliers, their enterprises were hospitable to the extent that, emerging from domestic households, they were directed principally at meal-making rather than money-making. Highly "McDonaldized" corporations, whose primary purpose is profit, are a largely twentieth-century development. Research limitations/implications: Defining hospitality as the provision of care by households to outsiders is a common sense approach that, nonetheless, provides an alternative to the usual characterizations of hospitality, based on ethics, personality, performance or industry. Social implications: Owner-operated businesses are more likely to provide hospitality, certainly as traditionally understood, than corporations. Originality/value: Since eighteenth-century France, restaurants have only become more important, and the use of the household definition contributes to their better understanding, both historically and conceptually. The definition should have wide applicability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-263
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Brillat-Savarin
  • France
  • Hospitality
  • Hospitality services
  • Households
  • Market economy
  • Restaurants


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