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Cafeterias, Noninstitutional

A noninstitutional cafeteria is a restaurant where customers are served from steam trays of premade food arranged in a line. The name cafeteria was borrowed from the Spanish name for a coffee shop. Cafeterias differ from buffets where customers serve themselves. Cafeteria customers usually carry their own trays to the table and pay for the individual items on their trays. Cafeteria cuisine is mainstream American fare: meat, potatoes, salads, and vegetables. Cakes, pies, pudding, and gelatin lead the desert selections. Cafeterias originated in the early 20th century as an inexpensive and quick dining option suitable for workers of both genders on their lunch breaks and middle-class families. Their popularity was based on cleanliness, wholesome food, and good value. Cafeterias were most popular from the 1930s ...

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