Beyond Daily Break Service + Hospitality


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Written by Eli Feldman

This article originally appeared in the Rhode Island School of Design’s Int|AR Journal, volume 6

If the basic function of a restaurant is to provide sustenance, its higher calling is to create social and cultural experiences. A dining experience is not only the result of the quality of the food and drink, it is choreographed by a cadre of workers—chefs, wait staff, dishwashers, hostesses, wine directors—and by the space itself.

In The Experience  Economy, an article published in The Harvard Business Review in 1998, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore note that the most successful companies need four things in order to create an experience for their customers: active participation, passive participation, immersion, and absorption. Restaurants easily hit all of these areas, and the most successful ones understand that the best guest experiences are by design.

One of the things that make restaurants an interesting demonstration of the experience economy is that the other “stages of economic value” that came before have also shaped the restaurant industry; without the industrial economy and the service economy, the idea of a restaurant as we know it would exist in a very different capacity.

This timeline is my effort to understand how the subtle and era-defining disruptions in society, economy, and technology shaped the experience of dining and working in restaurants.

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About the author

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Eli Feldman

Eli Feldman is the founder of Three Princes Consulting and Clothbound and has worked in restaurants for over a decade. He is most excited about raising the dialogue around the hospitality industry. He often dances in the morning to start the day off right.

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