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Fast-food restaurant

A fast-food restaurant is a restaurant characterized by food which is supplied quickly after ordering (and which may or may not be eaten quickly as well), and by minimal service. Often this food is referred to fast food. 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 provide standardized foodstuffs to the individual restaurants, shipped from central locations. There are also simpler fast-food outlets, like just a stand or kiosk, with or without shelter for customers, and with or without a few chairs to eat sitting (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.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Modern fast-food restaurants
3 Fictional
4 Corporations
5 See also


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. In 2002, the McDonald's Corporation posted its first quarterly loss.

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., José Bové's bulldozing a McDonald's which made him a folk hero in France, or the "McShit" campaign in the UK).

For all these reasons, 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 (mashed potato) remain popular. Towards 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






Hong Kong






United Kingdom

United States



See also