After the French Revolution, the ruling and aristocratic classes were overthrown, and as a result the chefs in their homes found themselves suddenly out of work. They took their culinary skills to a new kind of establishment – the restaurant – the basic model of which is what we know today. The word restaurant comes from a kind of broth served in private homes and at inns that was known for being a restorative dish for people who were tired or sick. Needing a way to restore their careers, these chefs came up with the idea for private tables, rather than the large communal ones found at traditional inns. Additionally, these new restaurants were the first to offer a la carte menus with a variety of choices, as well as a refined and elegant atmosphere not present at inns. The nineteenth century also introduced the world to the café, in which table service is not offered.
Travel to Paris increased in the years after the Revolution, and experienced an even larger surge the following century with the defeat of Napoleon and the arrival of new methods of transportation. The restaurant business took off, and visitors to Paris took the concept back to their hometowns. By the twentieth century, you could find these kinds of restaurants across Europe and the United States.
In the U.S., although places that today we would call restaurants did exist, the term restaurant itself took longer to cross the Atlantic. Across the nation people used a number of terms, such as “eating house”, “dining room” or “restorator”.