Module 19: Food and Beverage Services

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Classification of Food and Beverage Services

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Classification of Food and Beverage Services

Food and beverage services refers to the provision of food and drink to customers in different types of premises.

As the scope of food and beverage services is very broad, the means of classifying them are various and without a defined standard.

One simple means of classification is based on different types of market segments or target customers of the food and beverage services. The attached image gives an illustration of how food and beverage services can be grouped into different market segments.

Service providers in the hotel market represent those restaurants or outlets which provide food and beverage services inside the hotel properties for their customers. Many of them are owned by the hotels as sub-units in serving the hotel guests and generating extra income for the companies.

There are other service providers in the hospitality market who provide food and beverage services to customers/markets other than hotels and restaurants

As well as being classified by market segments and customer types, food and beverage services can also be categorized into:

Independent ownership

Chain ownership

Food and beverage services can also be positioned as profit making focused or non-profit making focused in their operations.

Independent Ownership

Usually refers to small family-run food and beverage services where the owners have complete control. These food and beverage services do however have the highest failure rate. You often find that groups are made up of independently-run food and beverage services.

Depending on the location, the clientele may vary accordingly. However, business usually relies on local customers or its neighborhood.

Chain ownership

There are many food and beverage service chains in the world. These chains can be grouped into single-concept chains and multiple-concept chains. The general public usually has no idea multiple-concept food services chains are owned by the same company.

The opportunities for promotion are considerable as they usually have a strong local and international brand identity. Normally, a percentage of sales is automatically taken for advertising. Depending on the location of restaurants the clientele may vary accordingly.


Single concept restaurant chains include:McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and KFC.

Usually single concept chains offer franchise opportunities.


Multiple-concept chains include:Maxim’s Catering Limited - operating fast food, Chinese and Western fine dining restaurants.

Usually multiple-concept chains have a centralized reservation system and some offer franchise opportunities.

The attached image shows details of classifications for food and beverage services based on the modes of independent ownership or chain ownership and the directions of profit making focused or non-profit making focused.

Profit Making Focused

Most food and beverage services available in the market are commercial-based which aim at generating profit. They include general restaurants, restaurants in hotels, fast food restaurants, bars and club restaurants, etc.

Non-Profit Making Focused

Food and beverage services which are non-profit making focused are mainly subsidized or welfare in their nature. Cost reduction is emphasized in the operations, which explains their relatively low prices when compared with those profit-oriented ones. Some of these food and beverage services may even provide meals for free. Common examples of these kinds of food and beverage services include cafeteria of enterprises, school canteens and cafeteria in hospitals, etc.

As food and beverage services have numerous types, only the four most common examples of food and beverage services will be focused on:

Fine dining restaurants
Casual dining restaurants
Fast food restaurants

Fine dining restaurants are those establishments that offer very high standards in all aspects of their operation - an extensive à la carte menu, silver service, good quality facilities and décor, service accompaniments, etc.

They can be found in four and five star hotels or as free standing restaurants. Some characteristics of a fine dining restaurant are listed below:

À la Carte menu

Beverage menu with long lists of wines and alcohols are always provided and is separated from the main menus
Food are cooked-to-order
Orders can be customized according to the customers
Emphasis on using high-quality and fresh ingredients
High-priced menu


Spacious, which provides certain levels of customers
Quiet and comfortable dining environment
Project a classy and elegant atmosphere


High staff-to-guest ratio
Low seat turnover
Some require membership and dress code
Well-trained and well-groomed staff
Full table service with formal table setting;
Unwritten rules on tipping
Service charge of 10% is required
Some may require advanced reservations of customers

A restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a causal atmosphere is called a casual dining restaurant.

Such restaurants usually provide table service and comprise a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants.

Under the category of casual dining restaurants, there are three extended types of food and beverage establishments which are common, these include cafés, specialty/themed restaurants and cafeterias.

Variations in their characteristics when compared with the traditional casual dining restaurants can be observed and compared as follows:


A small social gathering place (shop) which sells food and drink.

Simple menu with limited choices
Only light foods or easy-to-prepare items
Low staff-to-guest ratio
Servers should have knowledge of coffee
Comfortable seating
Varied decoration and casual atmosphere


A cafeteria is a type of food service establishment in which there is little or no table service. A cafeteria can also be a restaurant in which customers select their food at a counter and carry it on a tray to a table available after making payment, if necessary.

It is also a dining area in an institution where customers may select meals at a counter which are then purchased. Alternatively meals may be brought in from elsewhere and consumed on the premises.

Themed Restaurants

A specialty/themed restaurant is defined as a dining establishment that emphasize one particular food product or one type of ethnic cuisine in its menu and in its advertising.

Choices are moderately limited
Generally emphasis on unique features
Varied staff-to-guest ratio
Uniqueness of food and beverage concepts
Varied decoration

Customer demand has resulted in a rapid growth in fast food outlets. There are a variety of establishments offering a limited to very comprehensive choice of popular foods at reasonable prices.

Some establishments may be small and suited to the local area offering local delicacies, whereas others may be part of an international chain employing a particular theme, e.g. the type of food and range of items available depends on the type and location of the establishment.


Choices are limited
Generally provide quick-food which are easy in preparation and convenient for take away, e.g. burgers, chicken, pizzas
Cheap menu items which are affordable by all general public
Menus with photographs near the counters
Food ingredients are semi-processed in central kitchen before delivering to the restaurants
Food can be consumed either on the premises or taken away.


Very low staff-to-guest ratio
Self-serviced: customers are required to go to the food counters for ordering and picking up their own food
Free seating and no reservation is needed
No table set up
No service charge is imposed
Long hours of operations: some operate 24-hours a day

A bar can be part of a larger operation, such as a restaurant, or it can be an individual business. The physical set-up of bars is critical to set the ambience and the theme of the establishment. A bar also allows customers to meet and socialize for both business and pleasure.

Most bars will have a quick snack menu available for the customers to choose from. The profit percentage from beverages is higher than that from food and, unlike food, beverages can be held over if not sold.