Dining Out in the 1930s

Guild member and academic Phil Lyon has shared with us an article he wrote for the Journal of Culinary Science & Technology ‘How ironic would it be if you wrote an opening sentence that was outdated by the time it was published? How much more ironic if it was at the start of a historical article? Well, it just goes to show how profoundly Covid-19 has changed our world. We are now bleakly restricted in the pleasures of dining out and are witnessing terrible damage to our wonderful hospitality industry. Hoping better times are ahead, you are invited to look back to the 1930s when so many people first learned the joys of going to a restaurant.’

The article – Dining Out: Restaurants and British Society in the 1930s – is 'Open Access' so you do not need a journal subscription and it’s available free at tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15428052.2018.1552902

‘This article considers the social circumstances supporting wider restaurant use and the problems encountered as this became established in 1930s Britain. In the 1930s, significant social and economic changes supported a much broader demand for restaurants. New types of customer were attracted and many were exposed to a cuisine which bore little relationship to their meals at home. Unfamiliar dishes along with a menu language and service practices derived from the traditional élite food culture created social settings offering embarrassment for the unwary. Restaurant guides and dining advice were published for those wanting to dine with greater confidence and provide insight into social attitudes at the time.’

And the once accurate and now temporarily inaccurate first sentence is: ‘For many people in Britain, eating out is now an unremarkable and probably quite regular occurrence involving anything from an informal chain restaurant lunch to an à la carte dinner in a far more exclusive setting.’