Food and Beverage service – basics

The F&B service staff should know the food and beverage service basics where they work.

The food and beverage service industry engages itself in the provision of food and beverages, mainly to people who are away from their homes for different reasons. Such people need accommodation with food and beverages if they are away for more than a day.

The basic needs of customers for food and beverages are met by the food service industry, which has been associated with lodging ever since people started traveling.

People who move out of their houses for various reasons, such as jobs, education, business, leisure, medical treatment, sports, religion, and so on, depend completely on the food service industry for their meals.


Food and Beverage Services can be broadly defined as the process of preparing, presenting, and serving food and beverages to customers.


The Basics Sectors of the Food and Beverage Service Industry

There are many types of F&B operations. they may vary in size, style, location, and the market they are catering to. From a wayside tea stall to an exclusive fine dining restaurant of a deluxe hotel, and from mid-day meal service for school children to meals for industrial workers, all come under the fold of the F&B sector.
It is necessary to classify all the F&B sectors for a better understanding of their operation.

According to the priority given to the provision of food The food and beverage service sector can be classified into:

  1. Primary catering sectors
  2. Secondary catering sectors

1. Primary catering sectors of food and beverage service

The establishments under this category are primarily concerned only with the provision of food and beverages to customers.
The examples are:
  • food service outlets in accommodation sectors 
  • various types of restaurants
  • takeaway.

2. Secondary catering sectors of food and beverage service

The establishments in which the provision of food and beverages is not the main activity but a secondary or support activity are called secondary catering sectors.
The examples are: 
  • institutional catering.
  • transport catering.
  • catering services in theatres. 
  • amusement parks.
  • departmental stores. 
  • industrial catering. 
The primary activity of this unit is not the provision of food and beverages to the clients but the activity for which it is set up.
The food and beverage service industry can also be divided into the following two groups according to the profit motive.
  1. commercial sectors
  2. welfare sectors


 1. Commercial sectors of food and beverage service

These operate mainly to make a profit or to earn an adequate return on investment (ROI) through their products and services.

Food and beverage facilities of hotels, resorts, motels, clubs, stand-alone restaurants, takeaway outlets, pubs and bars, coffee shops, fast food outlets, transport catering, contract catering of industries, and so on, are examples of commercial catering.

It can be further classified into:  

  • hotels
  • motels
  • resorts
  • inns
  • clubs
  • restaurants
  • fast food outlets
  • pubs
  • bars
Hotels provide F&B services to customers in the following areas other than accommodation :
  • Restaurants (from silver service restaurants to self-service restaurants)
  • Bars
  • Lounge area
  • Banquets
  • Rooms (restricted only to the hotel guest)


2. Welfare sectors of food and beverage service

These operate mainly to provide services at no profit and no loss basis and most of them are run by private bodies or the government. They operate within their outlined budget for the provision of F&B service.
examples of welfare catering services:
  •  School catering
  •  university catering
  •  hospital catering
  •  prison catering
  •  military catering

If the catering services are given away on contract, then the motive of the contractor would make a profit, and such will become a commercial operation.


We can divide the F&B sectors according to the market or the type of customers they cater to in the following manner:

  1. Non-captive market
  2. Captive market
  3. Semi-captive market

1. The non-captive market of food and beverage service

The customers have a choice of where to eat. The type of restaurant chosen may be a fine dining restaurant of a deluxe hotel,  stand-alone restaurant, coffee shop, fast food outlet, specialty restaurant, or a popular restaurant depending on the following:

Reason for dining:
A birthday party, Valentine’s Day, wedding anniversary, or business meeting

Time available to eat:
Some customers have more time to spend in a restaurant while others have very little time, which influences their decision on the selection of the type of eatery. Executive class clients need executive lunch during lunch hours as they have less time to eat.

Food preference of customers:
The type of food they want to eat. For example, Chinese dishes, south Indian dishes, sandwiches, and so on.

Money available to spend on food:
Dishes of specialty restaurants are more expensive than popular restaurants.

Time of the day:
Not all the restaurants are open throughout the day.

A customer is prepared to travel to reach the eatery.

Ambiance desire:
A quiet dinner for two or dinner with a live band

Personal experience:
If customers had a good dining experience in a restaurant, they would prefer to return there and refer the eatery to their friends.

2. captive market of food and beverage service

The customers do not have a choice where to eat and have to avail of services provided by a particular catering outlet.

The examples are:

  • residential school children
  • college students staying in hostels
  • hospital patients
  • people staying in old age homes
  • prisoners, and industrial workers

3. The semi-captive market of food and beverage service

The customers have a limited choice of where to eat. In such a market, the customers have a choice before selecting the food and beverage. Once the choice is made, the customers have no choice but to be content with what is on offer.

The examples are:

  • Passengers traveling by train may take food prepared in the pantry car, from food outlets at railway stations, or wait till the destination is reached.
  • Those who travel by car on the highway have a limited choice of taking food from any of the outlets located on the highway. 
  • Those who wish to travel by air have a choice of selecting the airline and a choice between vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. 

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