Why do people eat out?

Eating out

This is the first part of my exploration of the impact of the rise of Food Delivery Apps. In this part, I will list down my views on the various reasons why people eat out.

Nowadays, the concept of ‘eating out’ is almost synonymous with restaurants. But the history of eating out goes far beyond that of restaurants. In ancient times, traders (and farmers) would need to eat while they were traveling or visiting the markets. Inns, caravenserais, bodegas, etc. were the places that these merchants visited to satiate their hunger and maybe enjoy some social company.

The history of modern restaurants is usually said to have started in France in the 18th Century, following the French Revolution and the fall of aristocracy and royalty which led to many chefs being unemployed. Many of these chefs opened their own restaurants, many of which would now be categorised as fine-dining restaurants.

The next big change in the restaurant business happened in the middle of the 20th Century with the rise of ‘fast food’ and ‘chain’ restaurants which made eating out affordable to the rising middle classes.

So why do we eat out? 

Here are my reasons:

  1. Necessity – As I mentioned earlier, the first people who ate out were merchants, traders and farmers traveling to market towns. These people had no other choice, being far away from home. Over time, this group has expanded to include students, working professionals and others who simply do not know how to cook, or don’t have the wherewithal to do so. This set of eaters would typically go for the most convenient and reasonable priced option.
  2. Eating out while at work – Similar to the first segment above, but would also include professionals who prefer to eat out while at work, rather than carry food from home. This segment would typically prefer easily accessible food joints with quick service (including take-aways).
  3. Socialising with business teams – Eating out is a very widely accepted form of social gathering. Many working professionals would eat out as part of team outings, business meetings, etc. This segment would, typically, prefer fine-dining restaurants.
  4. Traveling on work – Slightly different from the first segment in that these users would typically be on expense accounts. They might not always spend on fine-dining restaurants, but would not mind spending a bit more for good food with a nice atmosphere. They might also be open to trying different cuisines.
  5. Hanging out with friends – Eating out is a good way to connect with people. Friends can typically be expected to catch up at good quality restaurants, not necessarily fine dining, where they can enjoy a leisurely meal. Many groups in this segment might prefer hanging out at pubs, bars, cafes, but might still end up at a restaurant for a proper meal.
  6. Eating out with family – Very similar to the above segment, but likely to involve kids. So the preference would be for family-friendly restaurants.
  7. Special occasions – As the name suggests, these would usually end up in fine-dining restaurants or rare / different cuisines.
  8. A treat for the kids – Specific to families with young kids, this would involve a visit to a fast-food restaurant with kid-special meals as well as ice-cream parlours.
  9. Gourmands – People who live to eat. Highly likely to frequent new openings, unique cuisines, etc.

I think that covers most cases. Please let me know if I have missed any!



3 thoughts on “Why do people eat out?”

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