Fast-food restaurant

A fast-food restaurant is a restaurant characterized by food which is supplied quickly after ordering and by minimal service. Food purchased may or may not be eaten quickly as well. Often this food is referred to as fast food. In response to increasing backlash against "fast-food", the industry has been trying to move the public away from the term "fast food" over the past five years, shifting to the term quick service restaurant (QSR for short). QSR has not, however, been seen used in regular speech.

The food in these restaurants is commonly cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot, or reheated to order. Many fast-food restaurants are part of restaurant chains or franchise operations, which ship standardized foodstuffs to the individual restaurants from central locations. There are also simpler fast-food outlets, such as stands or kiosks, which might or might not provide shelter or chairs for customers (for the UK, see also below).

Because the capital requirements to start a fast-food restaurant are relatively low, particularly in areas with non-existent or little enforced health codes, small individually owned fast-food restaurants are common throughout the world.



Within the United States, fast-food restaurants have been losing market share to so-called fast casual restaurants, which offer somewhat better and more expensive foods (e.g. Subway). In 2002, the McDonald's Corporation posted its first quarterly loss. Due to this cultural shift towards healthier better quality foods McDonalds and Burgerking most notably have started to move towards selling healthier alternatives such as Salads and Deli style sandwiches in an effort to match the demand of a changing society and also as a response to ongoing lawsuits against the companies.

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Fast Food Generation
In 2004 the 'Cheeseburger bill'was ( passed by congress, basically "The so-called Cheeseburger Bill bans frivolous lawsuits against producers and sellers of food and non-alcoholic drinks arising from obesity claims."

The bill arising due to an increase in lawsuits aimed at fast food chains by people who claimed that eating fast food MADE them obese, basically disasociating them selves from any blame for eating the products.

Because of this reliance on monoculture, on foodstuffs purchased on global commodity markets and on its displacement of local eating habits, the fast-food industry is seen by many as destroying local styles of cuisine. It is often a focus of resistance (e.g., Josť Bovť's bulldozing a McDonald's which made him a folk hero in France, or the "MCSHIT (" campaign in the UK).

For these reasons and more, the Slow Food movement seeks to preserve local cuisines and ingredients, and directly opposes laws and habits that favor fast-food choices. Among other things, it strives to educate consumers' palates to prefer the richer and more varied local tastes of fresh ingredients harvested in season.

Although fast-food restaurants are often seen as a mark of modern technological culture, they are probably as old as cities themselves, with the style varying from culture to culture. Ancient Roman cities had bread-and-olive stands, East Asian cultures feature noodle shops, flat bread, and falafel are characteristic of the Middle East.

In the United Kingdom, while fast-food restaurant chains are now common, the British tradition of take-away foods such as fish and chips and steak and kidney pie with mash remain popular. Closer to the end of the 20th century, these have been joined by take-away outlets selling ethnic or pseudo-ethnic foods such as Italian, Chinese, and Indian. For more on foods in the UK, see British cuisine.

Modern fast-food restaurants

Although pioneered in the United States, fast food is a worldwide phenomenon. The following is a list of restaurants, arranged according to country of origin. In many cases, these will be franchised beyond a single country.









Hong Kong








South Africa



United Kingdom

United States


Fast-food chains which have disappeared

  • Burger Chef [3] ( (link from a former site located at the Internet Archive)
  • Burghy incorporated in McDonald's Corporation Italia
  • Griff's Hamburger's
  • Red Barn Burger and Fried Chicken chain in California. Had television and print advertisements staring puppets that were close in design to those on Sesame Street. Chain vanished in the mid to late 70's. Many barnlike structures, housing independent Fast Food restaurants still remain in S.F. Bay Area.
  • Doggy Diner San Francisco based chain of diner style fast food restaurants. Last one went out of business in 1996. The giant fiberglass cartoon dachshund head from the last store was recently made a San Francisco Historical Monument.


See also

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