Restaurant Firsts

September 26, 2013

We’re becoming more and more of a restaurant culture.

Retro Eat Sign ThunderstormFirst restaurant to note GMOs: In 2013, the Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle became the first chain to adopt a policy to note on its menu what of its ingredients were of “genetically modified origin.” The only ingredient, so far: soybean oil, used to cook meat.

First green salad: The prime rib restaurant Lawry’s opened in Beverly Hills in 1938. One of the their hallmarks was, and still is, tableside service—an employee wheels a cart to your table and carves off a slab of prime rib (as that was once the only entrée offered). But before the meal, another employee wheels another cart around, table to table, and tosses fresh green salads for guests. Included in the price of the meal, this was the first time an American restaurant offered a salad course.

First restaurant to accept bitcoin:Bitcoin” is an electronic currency, invented in 2010 by Satoshi Nakamoto, used exclusively over the Internet. And now, at least one place in the “real world.” In 2013, Bubba’s Firehouse Barbecue in Salt Lake City, Utah, started accepting bitcoin as a form of payment. (The owner is a big fan and online user of bitcoin.)

First fast food restaurant: In the early 20th century, hamburgers were considered a low-class food—the meat was made up of second-rate slaughterhouse leftovers, ground up to mask flaws. In 1921, White Castle opened, hoping to change the perception of the hamburger as a “mystery meat” sandwich. The first store in Wichita, Kansas, allowed customers to see their burgers being prepared. The “white” in the name was no accident—the restaurant’s owners wanted to imply cleanliness. The food was served up quickly, and cheaply: burgers cost five centers apiece. And the fast-food restaurant was born.

First hotel to offer room service: The Waldorf Astoria in New York (1931).

First iPad menus: Lots of high-end restaurants present their menu to diners via an iPad. The first restaurant to do so was Nihonbashi, a restaurant in Sri Lanka. Amazingly, they began the practice just nine days after the iPad became commercially available.