What is Food and Beverage Services
Food and Beverage service is a process of preparing, presenting, and serving food and beverages to the customers.
The food and beverage industry in hotels traces its roots to the traditional community feasts and the movement of people on pilgrimage thousands of years ago. Most people were on the move primarily for preaching religion and hunting.
History of Food and Beverage Service Industry
During those days, people took shelter under trees when they were away from their homes and depended on natural sources for their food. Their lives were endangered by wild animals and wayside robbers, which forced them to look for a place that assured them safety, accommodation, and food.
Dahrmasalas and Chatrams came up to protect the lives of travelers from wild animals and robbers. The travelers were also provided stables and sheds for horses and bullock carts, respectively, free of charge. They were given food and accommodation at no cost during the rule of kings.
Traders used to share accommodation with the owner of the house and were given meals and drinks. Mighty regional Kings entertained common people and merchants with feasts consisting of a variety of rich dishes, traditional dances, Bravery arts, etc during festivals.
The trained and qualified manpower, professionalism, availability of a wide range of cooking and service equipment manufacturers, food technology,
consumer demand, change in the lifestyle of our citizens, lack of time to cook, media influence, increased influx of foreigners, and so on, have changed the face of the Indian f&b service industry.
The foodservice sectors continually change their style of operation to meet the changing needs of the customers. Today, we have top-quality restaurants in India that are comparable to international standards.
Introduction to Food and Beverage Service
The industry of foodservice engages itself in the provision of food and
beverages, mainly to the 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 and only food and beverages if they are away for a short duration of time.
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 job, education, business, leisure, medical treatment, sports, religion,
and so on, depend completely on the foodservice industry for their meals.
The barter system of the transaction was slowly introduced and this system motivated people to travel for trade, mainly of livestock, which later expanded to food grains, clothing, tools, and other goods. Traders used to share accommodation with the owner of the house and were given meals and drinks.
Mighty regional kings entertained common people and merchants with feasts consisting of a variety of rich dishes, traditional dances, Bravery arts, etc during festivals.
The people of India, in general, did not prefer dining out till the early 1960s. Perhaps this could be one of the reasons for dabbawalas, who are food vendors engaged in distributing meals in “Dabbas” (boxes) to clients at their workplaces, doing so well in Mumbai.
The development of catering in India is mainly attributed to the British, who introduced hotels and restaurants similar to the ones in Europe.
There are many types of food and beverage 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 services for school children to meals for Industrial workers, all come under the fold of the Food and Beverage sector.
It is necessary to classify all the food and beverage sectors for a better understanding of their operations.
Food and Beverage Service Areas
Here are the different areas of f&b services:
1. Primary Catering Sectors
The establishments under this category are primarily concerned only with the provision of food and beverages to customers. The examples are food service outlets of accommodation sectors, various types of restaurants, and takeaways.
2. Secondary Catering Sectors
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, and industrial catering. The primary activity of these units is not the provision of food and beverages to the clients but the activity for which it is set up.
Some trains have a pantry car while others do not. Short-duration flights may not provide in-flight catering services. The foodservice industry can also be divided into the following two groups according to the profit motive.
3. Commercial Sectors
Commercial sectors operate mainly to make a profit or to earn an adequate return on investment through their products and services.
Food and beverage facilities of hotels, motels, clubs, stand-alone restaurants, popular restaurants, takeaway outlets, 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 residential, for example, hotels, motels, resorts, inns, clubs, and so on, and nonresidential.
For example, Restaurants, Fast food outlets, Pubs, Bars, and so on.
Hotels provide F&B services to customers in the following areas other than accommodation:
- Restaurants (from silver service restaurants to self-service restaurants, 24-hour operations to restricted hours of operations, open to residential and non-residential guests).
- Lounge area
- Rooms (restricted only to hotel guests).
Most guests staying in hotels are on business trips and stay for a very short duration and expect quick service. They may also need banquet halls to hold functions, conferences, and business meetings.
The restaurants of hotels may offer a buffet for all three meals to speed up service. Resorts provide accommodation mainly to vacationers. The duration of their stay is longer as compared to guests who stay in hotels.
The ambiance of the restaurant will be very informal and the service is either from a buffet or at the table. Guests expect special dishes of the region as they want to experience new dishes and have more time to spend in the restaurant.
So the Food and Beverage sectors provide service to various markets. Some of these sectors provide services to the general public while others only to the restricted groups. We can divide the f&b sectors according to the market or the type of customers they cater to in the following manner.
4. Non-Captive Market/Customers
The customers have a choice where to eat. The type of restaurant chosen may be a fine dining restaurant of a deluxe hotel, stand-alone restaurants, coffee shop, fast food outlets, specialty restaurant, or a popular restaurant depending on the following,
- Reason for dining- 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 is available to spend on food.
- Time of the day.
- Ambiance desired.
- Personal experience.
5. Captive Market/Customers
The customers do not have a choice where to eat and have to avail services provided by particular catering outlets.
For example, Residential school children, College students staying in hotels, hospital patients, people staying in old age homes, prisoners, and industrial workers.
6. SEMI Captive Market/Customers
The customers have a limited choice of where to eat. In such a market, the customers have a choice before selecting the food and beverages. Once the choice is made, the customers have no choice but to be content with what is on offer.
Food and Beverage Service Department
Other than the secure and comfortable accommodation, guests staying in a hotel expect a wide range of hygienically prepared wholesome food and beverages.
It is the responsibility of the Food and beverage department of the hotel to provide these services 24 hours to the guests. It is the second major revenue-producing department of the hotel, the first being the front office.
Star category hotels have many food and beverage service outlets such as luxury restaurants, specialty restaurants, coffee shops, cocktail bars, lounge, and room services, and so on, to satisfy the different palates and needs of the guests and banquet halls to organize functions and
conferences. All these outlets are managed by the food and beverage department.
These are some department of the F&B services which is following:
1. Banquet Organization
Usually banquet business is a seasonal business, but the hotel must devise a plan to sell its banquet facilities throughout the year.
A hotel may either have many banquet halls of different sizes or one large hall, the size of which can be adjusted with temporary partitions to accommodate parties of various sizes.
The banquet department is managed with the help of a few permanent staff as more service staff can be arranged from either local source or other food and beverage service areas.
2. Room Service Organization
The room service department is responsible for serving food and beverages in the guest’s rooms according to predetermined standards.
All the activities of the room service department are controlled by the room service manager. In a smaller hotel, the restaurant manager may be given the additional responsibility of managing room service.
3. Lounge Organization
The lounge is a department located in the reception area where guests relax, meet other guests, or wait for rooms to be released. The guests at the lounge may require food and beverage services.
The lounge waiter should be prepared to serve coffee, tea, aperitifs, wines, spirits, and snacks. The orders are collected against KOT/BOT on a tray and served at the lounge by lounge waiters, just like room service. At the end of service, bills should be presented.
The entire food and beverage operation in the lounge is under the control of the lounge head waiter and he gets the work executed through lounge waiters. This service is not prevalent much in budget hotels or even in some of the deluxe hotels. However, on request, beverages and snacks can be served at the lounge.
4. Bar Organization
The bar serves different types of alcoholic beverages to residential and non-residential guests in the hotel. It may refuse to serve alcohol to guests who are under age or are already quite inebriated.
The minimum age of a person for alcohol consumption should be followed strictly to avoid any legal or police action against the establishment. The service of drinks is very profitable and at the same time, close monitoring is quintessential to prevent any malpractice that may arise in any of the beverage outlets.
India, a populous country, has very good potential for the development of all sectors of the foodservice industry in a major way. The prospects for catering look great because in future also people, whether at home or at their workplace, will be dining out.
The number of people availing of the services of the food industry is steadily increasing due to their increased disposable income. Today in the retail market, readymade and semi-cooked food items are available to cater to the needs of the target market.
The food service industry is different from other industries in satisfying the needs of customers. It satisfies one of the most important physiological needs of the customers, that is of hunger and thirst.
The need is satisfied for a very short period of time, after which that physiological need arises again which has to be met. Foodservice professionals must understand the internal and external environment and make use of the opportunity.