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A restaurant ( French : [ʁɛstoʁɑ̃] (listen)), or an eatery , is a business that prepares and serves food and drinks to customers. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises , but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias, to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.

In Western countries , most mid- to high-range restaurants serve alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine . Some restaurants serve all the major meals, such as breakfast , lunch , and dinner (e.g., major fast food chains , diners, hotel restaurants, and airport restaurants). Other restaurants may serve only a single meal (for example, a pancake house may only serve breakfast ) or they may serve two meals (e.g., lunch and dinner ).

The word derives from the French verb "restaurer" ("to restore", "to revive") and, being the present participle of the verb, it literally means "that which restores". The term restaurant was defined in 1507 as a "restorative beverage", and in correspondence in 1521 to mean "that which restores the strength, a fortifying food or remedy".

The first use of the word to refer to a public venue where one can order food is believed to be in the 18th century . In 1765, a French chef by the name of A. Boulanger established a business selling soups and other "restaurants" ("restoratives").