What’s the difference between a restaurant and a cafe?
From the customer type to the pace of servicing, here are the 7 answers to the question, “What’s the difference between a restaurant and a cafe?”
- Customer type
- Product Offering
- Price Point
- Hours of Operation
- Noise Level
- Pace of Servicing
People often need clarification about the difference between a restaurant and a cafe, even though they have very different feelings.
The key difference is that more casual cafes don’t serve full meals but small snacks, sandwiches, and sometimes light meals. People go to cafes to enjoy the atmosphere and relax, read a book or magazine, or catch up with friends, while restaurants serve full meals that are generally more formal and expensive.
The two businesses also attract different kinds of customers. Commonly, restaurants are frequented by more people regularly, while cafes are visited by more tourists and are more destinations. The bottom line is that a cafe is relaxed, while a restaurant is more formal.
Jacob Dayan, Co-founder and CEO, Community Tax
While the main distinction between a cafe and a restaurant today is the type of food they serve, in the past, cafes focused primarily on drinks like coffee. Restaurants focus on serving main courses and provide a wider variety of food. Cafes today are much more about creating a distinctive atmosphere. The French word “café,” which means “coffee house,” is the origin of the word.
Timothy Woods, Director, Carnivore Style
Cafés specializing in serving drinks and fast snacks may not need an ample space with heavy furnishings but can concentrate on a unique, creative interior.While restaurants draw large crowds of people because they offer a wholesome meal experience, including families, groups of friends, corporate dinners, etc. Investment in a larger space with comfy furniture is required to accommodate them.While restaurants should concentrate on providing comfortable seating, more considerable, cleaner restrooms, and post-meal services, cafes can focus on acquiring wall art, games, or live events to ensure that their audience is entertained.
Isaac Robertson, Fitness Trainer & Co-Founder, Total Shape
The main difference between a restaurant and a cafe is that restaurants are more expensive and offer more formal dining experiences. Cafes are more casual and usually offer more affordable prices. Restaurants also usually provide table service, while cafes typically have more of a self-service system. Many restaurants also serve more complex dishes than cafes, which generally focus on more straightforward options like sandwiches and coffee.
Kate Wojewoda-Celinska, Marketing Manager, Spacelift
Hours of Operation
One of the differences between a restaurant and a café are opening hours. Cafés tend to be open earlier than restaurants because of the business character and menu card. Cafés offer mainly coffee and other beverages as well as breakfast or snacks. They are geared toward customers who will take a meal to go or stop by for a short time before work or during lunch. The majority of cafés may close earlier in the evening. In contrast, Restaurants tend to have longer hours of operation than cafés, with many places open no sooner than for lunch and dinner. They may also stay open later into the evening, as they often serve as a place to gather and socialize. Restaurants are also a common choice for business meetings, dates, or other celebrations, which usually end late. All these cause an apparent overlap between the hours a restaurant and a café are open.
Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Live Career
Restaurants are noisier than cafés. While cafés are usually quiet, calm, with little chatting happening there, in restaurants everyone seems to be talking. The difference in question results from a building’s size and sitting capacity. Cafés tend to be smaller and more confined. At the same time, restaurants are much more spacious. They can host a greater number of guests because of the large seating capacity. Personally, I consider cafés a perfect choice for a romantic date, gossip with a bestie, or a business meeting. When it comes to restaurants, I just love visiting them with a group of friends when we feel like having a delicious full-course meal and some wine.
Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, LiveCareer
Pace of Servicing
The pace of servicing in restaurants and cafes is different. When you order in a restaurant, you have to wait for more. No matter how many dishes you order, the waitress or waiter always comes after a few minutes. The reason is that they make food fresh. Once an order arrives, the chefs start making the dishes. And if you have a full-course meal, it’s natural to wait for more. If you go to a restaurant, you usually come back after a half hour or one-two hour. It’s lengthier if you have a large company. Cafes give fast servicing. They serve food quickly, as the dishes are minimum. The most common item is coffee which doesn’t take much time to prepare. Also, people don’t linger much, so the servings are always fast.
Cynthia Hamilton, Marketing Director, Oglf
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