Types of Catering Establishments: Food Service Systems

  • Post last modified:19 January 2022
  • Reading time:16 mins read
  • Post category:Uncategorized

What is Catering Industry in Hotel?

Restaurants are places where food and drink are available at a cost. These catering establishments are an important link in the food chain. The food chain begins with the procurement of raw materials such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables from its sources. the raw material is processed and packed in food factories, and beverages are bottled in bottling plants and breweries.

They are then stored at the required temperatures in warehouses and cold storage ready for distribution by wholesale vendors, agents and merchants. They, in turn, sell these to eating houses for public consumption as meals and refreshments.

Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners in India. Foreign guests visiting the country require food (board) and accommodation (lodging). This is provided by the hotel and the catering industry. The hotel and catering industry is made up of hotels and rest houses for lodging and restaurants for dining.

This industry is expanding rapidly not only because of foreign tourists but also because of the boost to tourism within the country.

Types of Catering Establishments

There are two main categories of types of catering establishments:

  1. Primary Catering Establishments
  2. Secondary Catering Establishments

Primary Catering Establishments

Establishments such as hotels, restaurants and fast-food outlets which are primarily concerned with the provision of food and beverage are called primary catering establishments.

  1. Hotels
  2. Restaurant
  3. Outdoor/Off-Premise Catering


The main purpose of hotels is to provide accommodation, which may or may not include the service of food & beverage. A hotel may be a small family-run unit providing limited service in one restaurant, or a large luxury hotel providing service through a number of outlets such as the coffee shop, room service, banquets, speciality restaurant, grill room and cocktail bars.

The service in these types of hotels is usually personalized and the tariff is very high, as they generally cater to persons of high social standing. Medium class hotels are similar to luxury hotels, through their surroundings are less luxurious category. The prices in the various categories of hotels, often depend upon the service and choice of food and beverage that they offer to their clientele.


The primary function of the commercial restaurant is the provision of food & beverage. Restaurants are of different standards. The foodservice and prices are often comparable to those of similar restaurants in luxury hotels. They offer a wide choice for an elaborate menu and a very high quality of service.

  1. Bar and Pubs
  2. Popular Restaurants
  3. Fast Food Restaurants & Take Away

Bar and Pubs

The bar serves different types of alcoholic beverages to residential and non-residential guests in the hotel. The idea of pubs is fairly new in India. It has been borrowed from the concept of public houses in English and adapted to Indian conditions.

They are geared to provide service of all types of alcohol with an emphasis on draught beer and good music. Food may also be served from a limited menu.

Popular Restaurants

The objectives of popular catering restaurants are to provide a quick and economical meal, in a clean and standardized dining room. These restaurants are commonly used by the vast urban population of India. They are of various styles and categories. Some restaurants serve only vegetarian food while some specialize in the food of a particular region such as the Punjab or Andhra. Some restaurants serve food from more than one region.

The entry of pizza parlours and westernized popular food into India provides the urban Indian a wider choice, in the types of popular restaurants to choose from. The numerous outlets that have sprung up all over the country in the last decade show a new trend in the urban citizen‘s eating habits. This has resulted in an increased awareness among the public about the availability of various types of cuisine and catering services.

Fast Food Restaurants & Take Away

There is a predominant American influence in the fast-food style of catering. The service of food and beverages in a fast food restaurant is at a faster pace than at an a la carte restaurant as the menu is compiled with a special emphasis on the speed of preparation and service.

To make this type of service financially viable, a large turnover of customers is necessary. The investment is rather large, due to the specialized and expensive equipment needed and the high labour costs involved.

Outdoor/Off-Premise Catering

This means catering to a large number of people at a venue of their choice. Hostels, restaurants and catering contractors meet this growing demand. The type of food and set-up depends entirely on the price agreed upon.

Outdoor catering includes catering for functions such as marriages, parties and conventions. Off-premise caterers meet the needs of all markets segments, from the low budget customer who looks for the most quantity and quality for the least amount of money, to the upscale client with an unlimited budget who wants the highest level of service, the ultimate in food quality, and the finest in appointments such as crystal stemware, silver-plated flatware and luxurious linens.

Off-premise catering is an art and a science. The art is creating foods and moods, as the caterer and client together turn a vision into reality. Science is the business of measuring money, manpower and material.

Secondary Catering Establishments

In the secondary catering industry, the provision of food and beverage is a part of another business such as welfare catering and transport catering. Catering establishments are usually classified on the basis of the demands being met by them.

The main aim of any catering organization is to attract different sections of the public to use its facilities, keeping in view the price of food and service it offers in relation to the location of the property and the class of clientele it attracts:

  1. Department Store Catering
  2. Club Catering
  3. Welfare Catering
  4. Transport Catering
  5. Leisure Linked Catering

Department Store Catering

Some departmental stores, apart from carrying on their primary activity of retailing their own wares, provide catering as an additional facility. This type of catering evolved when large departmental stores wished to provide food and beverages to their customers as a part of their retailing concept.

It is inconvenient and time-consuming for customers to take a break from shopping, and have some refreshments at different locations. Thus arose the need for some sort of a dining facility in the departmental store itself. This style of catering is becoming more popular and varied nowadays.

Club Catering

This refers to the provision of food and beverages and accommodation to a restricted clientele. The origin of this service can be traced back to England, where membership of a club was considered prestigious. Clubs for people with similar interests such as turf clubs, golf clubs and cricket clubs, to name a few, have sprung up.

The service and food in these clubs tend to be of fairly good standards and are economically priced. Facilities provided by the club may include sports, both indoor and outdoor, libraries, swimming pools, social activities, social work, pursuing a specific hobby etc.

Welfare Catering

The provision of food and beverages to people to fulfil a social need, determined by a recognized authority, is known as welfare catering. This grew out of the welfare state concept, prevalent in western countries. It includes catering in institutes or industries, hospitals, schools, colleges, prisons and armed forces.

Transport Catering

It includes that sector of food and beverage establishment which makes provision of food and beverage for people who are on the move. The provision of food and beverage to passengers, before, during and after a journey on trains, aircraft, ships and in buses or private vehicles is termed as transport catering.

It involves the feeding of a large at a catering facility and who need to be catered for at a specific time, for example, onboard a plane.

Leisure Linked Catering

This type of catering refers to the provision of food and beverages to people engaged in leisure. The increase in leisure and a large disposable income for leisure activities has made it a very profitable form of catering. This includes the provision of food and beverage through different stalls and kiosks at exhibitions, theme parks, galleries and theatres.

Types of Food Service Systems

There are basically four types of food service systems, conventional, commissary, ready prepared and assembly/serve:

  1. Conventional Food Service System
  2. Commissary Food Service System
  3. Ready-Prepared Food Service Systems
  4. Assembly Service System

Conventional Food Service System

Food is prepared in a kitchen on the premises where the food is to be served. Following food preparation/ production, food is held hot or cold and served as soon as possible. The food may be distributed for service directly to an adjacent service area e.g., in cafeterias, restaurants, dining halls or hostels.

Alternatively, it may be carried on trays e.g., served to patients in hospitals. This system is more adaptable to individual preferences. Seasonal ingredients can be used and there is greater flexibility in menu planning. Also, distribution costs are minimal.

Commissary Food Service System

In this system, food is prepared centrally at one place, but it is distributed to several remote areas for final preparation and service since the food production centre and the service areas are located in separate facilities. Hence, a food distributor is necessary to ensure that the food is supplied to the various outlets.

For example, there are chains of outlets like Coffee Day, Barista, etc. where the basic food items like ice cream, milk, cookies etc. are supplied from a centralised kitchen. When a customer orders a milkshake, it is prepared as per the flavours and other ingredients, toppings, etc. are added as per the customer’s wishes.

The advantages are that all ingredients can be purchased in bulk (saves money), there is no need for separate equipment and personnel to cook the food in each unit. Uniformity of quality of products for all units can be assured and it is cost-effective.

Ready-Prepared Food Service Systems

Food items are prepared well in advance before the time of service and kept frozen until they are to be used. In large cities, many such food items are available e.g. frozen parathas, samosas, cutlets, French fries etc. Mafco and Godrej are examples of industries that have developed and are marketing such products.

One important aspect of this kind of operation is the need for special equipment for freezing the food and separate freezers for storing the food in frozen condition. Extreme care must be taken in food handling procedures to prevent contamination and spoilage.

Assembly Service System

In this, fully prepared foods are purchased from manufacturers and only finishing processes such as seasoning, thawing, reheating is done at the place of service. These operations require minimal cooking at the point of service e.g., sale of ‘gol gappas/Pani puri or bhel puri’.

The manufacturing process is separated from the distribution process/service. One of the limitations is that the number of items prepared may not be large.

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