They were highly regulated establishments that sold restaurants (meat based consommes intended to "restore" a person's strength) to people who were not feeling well.
Cook-caterers (traiteurs) also served hungry patrons. The history of these two professions is historically connected and often difficult to distinguish.
Historians tell us the genesis of food service dates back to ancient times.
Street vendors and public cooks (caterers) were readily available in Ancient Rome.
the Patissiers, Rotisseurs, Charcutiers] and created a hungry, middle-class customer base who relished the ideals of egalitarianism (as in, anyone who could pay the price could get the same meal).
Entrepreneurial French chefs were quick to capitalize on this market. Boulanger, 1765 "In about 1765, a Parisian 'bouillon seller' named Boulanger wrote on his sign: 'Boulanger sells restoratives fit for the gods'...
The royal household, with its hundreds of retainers, and the households of nobles, often numbering as many as 150 to 250 persons, also necessitated an efficient foodservice...
Essentially in places where alcoholic begerages were sold, placesewquipped to serve simple, inexepensive dishes either cooked on the premises or ordered from a nearby inn or food shop, along with wine, beer, and spirits, which constituted the bulk of their business.
Menus, offering dishes individually portioned, priced and prepared to order, were introduced to the public for the first time. This was the first restaurant in the modern sense of the term." ---Larousse Gastronomiqe, completely revised and updated [Clarkson Potter: New York] 1999 (p. Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau in Paris, 1766 "According to Spang, the forgotten inventor was Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau, a figure so perfectly emblematic of his time that he almost seems like an invention himself.
The son of a landowner and merchant, Roze moved to Paris in the early 1760s and began floating a variety of schemes he believed would enrich him and his country at the same time."
It was a coffee house, hence the word "cafe." Cafes were places educated people went to share ideas and new discoveries.
Patrons spent several hours in these establishments in one "sitting." This trend caught on in Europe on the 17th century.