A restaurant, or more accurately, an eatery, is basically a business which prepares and serves foods and beverages to customers in their homes. Most restaurants, even mid-price ones, range greatly in offerings and appearance, ranging from basic fast food chains and cafeteria-style restaurants, to upscale family restaurants, and high-end luxury establishments. In the United States alone, there are literally hundreds of such establishments, all of which offer almost any kind of food or drink you could imagine. Not only that, but some restaurants also serve takeout, as well as other forms of food services.
There are many ways to classify a restaurant, both historically and in modern times. Historically, when referring to a specific establishment, such as a cafe or bistro, it was typically understood to be a small, privately owned operation, most likely run by an Italian immigrant. In more modern times, many restaurants are privately owned but also share resources and equipment, and sometimes even staff members with other similar businesses. There are also large chain restaurants, but these are rare, usually smaller restaurants operating either entirely out of the country (such as those in Mexico) or just within a particular region.
Many diners would likely classify a New York City restaurant, for example, into one of three types: fast food, which is synonymous with hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips; fine dining, which includes many oriental and ethnic foods; or fine cuisine, which includes dishes from France, Italy, and Spain. The average New York restaurant will usually have a long line of waiters or waitresses on its premises, even when the restaurant is closed, which may seem odd and often considered unnecessary. However, when restaurants operate within this vast industry, shared waitstaff can create a much more professional environment, which may contribute to an overall positive image of the business.