This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Comprising A Survey Of Various Styles Of Restaurants And Their Methods. Club Stewarding And Catering, Public Party Catering, Ball Suppers, Base Ball Lunches, Hotel Banquets, Etc. How To Prepare And How To Serve Them; With Numerous Pattern Bills Of Fare Carried Out To Quantities, Cost And Price Per Head.
"The difference between hotel and restaurant, did you ask? Oh, everbody knows that The difference is - well, let's seethe difference is, at a restaurant you can get your meals any time you want, and in a hotel you can't, because they close their doors. The restaurant man is glad to see you come in at any hour of the day or night, while in the hotels they look at a fellow like he had felonious intentions if he tries to get in to eat after their time is up".
Good enough as far as it goes, but if we think it over a little we shall find greater differences than that.
Hotel-keeping is good housekeeping on a magnificent 6cale; restaurant-keeping is merchandizing in meat and drink. The hotel Boniface keeps a good house; the restaurateur has command of the markets. The hotel-keepei takes care of people; the restaurateur attends upon people who try to take care of themselves. The hotel-keeper provides a home for a number subject to rules; the restaurateur provides a refuge for those who know no rules or are ruled out. The hotel-keeper thinks the most of his customers in the aggregate and will not change his ways to suit different individuals; the restaurateur thinks most of the individuals and is not disturbed if their tastes differ to wide extremes. The hotel-keeper provides meals for numbers by wholesale methods, such as would cost the individual three or four times as much to provide singly for himself; the restaurateur provides by retail methods the separate meals as ordered and charges for his services. The hotel-keeper thinks and manages for all; the restaurateur invites each one to think and manage for himself and adapts his establishment to meet every caprice.
The model restaurant keeper stocks up like a merchant with everything that will sell; secures the latest novelties like a merchant; displays his goods like a merchant; advertises like a merchant; maker his prices according to the demand; maker his money out of the luxuries rather than the necessities of his customers.
When the hotel steward goes to market and finds some desirable thing, the question with him is "Will it pay?" The restaurant steward asks himself, " Will it sell?" The first must limit his purchases within the bounds of the price per day charged by his house; the other must judge whether any among the known or probable patrons of his restaurant will buy the fresh delicacy at the price demanded. The hotel bill of fare shows how much can be done for a certain fixed price per head; the restaurant carte shows what there is in market, and, consequently, in the restaurant larder, and what it will cost if ordered.
The hotel steward hiring hands expects to have but one set for the day; only one continuous watch. He hires them for long days, not comparable with the days of other classes of workers, if counted in hours, yet broken up and made easy by intervals between meals. He has times to close his doors and give most or all of the hands a recess. The restaurant steward hires them for so many hours continuous work without breaks or intervals; and when the clock strikes the watch on duty stops work and the next watch takes hold as promptly as in a factory; he strives, therefore, to apportion the workers to the duties to be performed in such a way that their time will be fully employed during all the hours he pays them for. He rarely closes his doors at all. The restaurant meals are never over, but always beginning. The most unseasonable hours are often the best for business. When the hotel is asleep and the theatre is over the restaurant is most awake, and the fresh hands newly come on watch then render their best work in cooking and service.
The restaurant exists for odd times, unseasonable hours; to De outside of common rules and habits; to meet sudden emergencies, unusual demands, transitory fancies and pa-sing fashions. The successful restaurateur is like a courtier, making eash customer in turn think he is the only one that really knows how to order a dinner, or has a true appreciation of what is good and en regie. The successful steward is one who can carry a stock so varied, even of perishables, that he can never be taken unawares by the most unexpected orders, and who yet loses the least through the spoiling of provisions.
The best cooks, probably, are hotel cooks who have had a previous restaurant training. Hotel cooks attain their greatest excellence in that most valuable knowledge of cookery which the French common people are credited with possessing as a birthright, which Alexis Soyer gave such a brilliant example of when he showed the British soldiers in the Crimea how to take the rations which they were starving and dying upon and make them into palatable and nutritious soups and stews, such as their French neighbors and allies were concocting so well from the same poor supplies. Hotel cooks learn good management; they learn the economies; to make much of little; to suit the average greatest number; but the restaurant cooks are the more ornamental in their work; they must learn styles and fancy touches and take instructions from many critical or whimsical customers. The individual style service of hotel dinners in small dishes has a certain prettiness of its own and a proprietary exclusiveness about it which delights many, but the restaurant entire dishes for parties of four, six or eight give the cooks room and opportunities for styles of decoration which untraveled hotel cooks have no inkling of.
A restaurant cook having to serve even so common an order as sausage and mashed potatoes for two, price a few cents, will place four separate, smooth spoonfuls of potato cross-fashion in the dish, a brown fried sausage pressed halfway in the top of each and gravy over all, and sends in an attractive dish with a shape to it, when in inexperienced hands it would be nothing, but potato in one dish, sausage in another, common and unnotice-able; alike in the commonest boarding house and the-best hotel. From such simples the restaurant cook's work rises to whole dishes of fish, fowl and game, with foreign names, styles and ornamental accessories. At the same time the restaurant cook has an expensive liking for large portions, choice cuts, whole steaks, whole fishes, plentiful wines to stew in and the free use of imported rarities encouraged by a class of customers who pay a dollar or several dollars for a single dish, but which he must modify to some extent in the hotel according to its style and prices.
The hotel head waiter having a party or a family whom he desires to have particularly well served, after locating them at the pleasantest table, looks around among his wai'ers for one who has experience in a restaurant. The restaurant waiter may seem slow and inefficient amongst a crowd, but he is the one they want when minute personal attentions are required; the one who never forgets; is never in a hurry to get away; neither hears nor sees anything at his table except his own duties. Res-taurant training makes that sort of waiter.
But as everybody knows, they are not all restaurants that are called by that name. The real restaurants of the original Parisian sort are very few. Some, even of the most famous of modern French establishments have closed up within the last few years. Some writers account for the decrease by saying the rising generation is becoming more mercenary and pre fers the table d'hote with its fixed price for dinner or supper to the gilt-edged restaurant with its fancy prices and the latter falls into decline through the growth of economical tendencies. However, the original pattern of restaurant will still exist few but remarkable, and there are modifications of it growing everywhere in increasing numbers.