When future archaeologists start digging up the remains of modern western civilisation, they will be astonished at how many hamburger and pizza boxes they come across. For over the last 50 years, the passion for what has become known as 'fast food' has created both a social revolution and an enormous amount of wealth.
The story of fast food began in the USA in the 1930s and 1940s, a result of the country’s love affair with dial other great innovation of the twentieth century, the automobile. Indeed, in southern California, people were becoming so attached to their cars that they were happy to spend all evening in them. Realising that this was bad for trade, restaurants began to employ waitresses known as “car hops”. Their job was to carry trays of food out to those customers who preferred eating in their vehicles in the car park to sitting round a table in the traditional manner.
Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald ran one of these 5 successful “drive-in” restaurants in a town near Los Angeles. The business was not without its problems, however: staff were always leaving for higher-paid jobs, and the teenagers who were their main customers were constantly breaking or stealing the crockery and cutlery. So the McDonalds decided to look again at the basic idea of the take-away restaurant to see if they could find a way round these drawbacks.
In 1948 they came up with the solution – a completely new method of providing customers with food. They decided to streamline the process by keeping it as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible. For example, they got rid of two-thirds of the items on the menu, including anything that had to be eaten with a knife, fork or spoon. Meanwhile, the kitchen became like a factory with machines doing most of the cooking and each unskilled employee performing just one routine task according to strict rules and regulations. 4_________________________________________________________________
What the McDonald brothers had understood was the importance of uniformity. The success of any fast-food chain depends on the reliability of its product. Consumers can order a “Big Mac” at any McDonald’s on the planet and know exactly what they will get. In order to achieve this guaranteed level of 55 quality, the food must be heavily processed and the whole system of food preparation must be tightly controlled. McDonald’s has a handbook for employees which contains precise 60 instructions on how everything is to be cooked, from how thick the French fries should be to how far apart burgers should be placed on the grill.
The fast-food industry now employs millions of people worldwide. McDonald's alone now trains more new workers every year than the US army. It is the largest owner of retail property in the world and its corporate symbol, the golden arches, is recognised everywhere. Inspired by the success of the McDonald brothers, dozens of lookalike fast-food chains have spread out across the world from the USA. And the influence of the McDonald approach can be seen throughout the service economy. There are now chains of coffee bars, shops and all manner of other businesses which benefit from being organised according to the same principles.
Although fast food does have its good points – it’s convenient, cheap and tasty – there are some people who question its long-term appeal. The leading US chains are no longer growing so quickly, and some people have linked this slowdown with a new attitude towards food in the western world. As people increasingly turn to the healthier lifestyle associated with fresh produce, local food and old-fashioned methods of food preparation, it will be interesting to see whether the fast-food industry has perhaps had its day.
You are going to read a magazine article about various people who have run restaurants. For Questions 1-14, choose from the people (A-D).
They had children who accepted what their parents did. 0 B
When they started, they did not serve the food they would have liked to. 1 ___
They paid to eat good food even as students. 2 ___
They get some private time together every day. 3 ___
People can also stay overnight at their restaurant. 4 ___
They did not originally plan to do the cooking themselves. 5 ___
People have to make a special effort to reach the restaurant. 6 ___ 7 ___
They consider that contact with the customers is essential. 8 ___
They found some customers very difficult. 9 ___
The quality of the restaurant has been officially recognised. 10 ___ 11 __
They may have another attempt at running a restaurant. 12 __
They did not benefit financially from opening the restaurant. 13 __
They allow themselves a break from the restaurant every year. 14 __
WOULDN'T IT BE FUN TO RUN A RESTAURANT!
People – ordinary, sane, decent but untrained people – have decided that it would be wonderful to start their own restaurant.
Roger Bates knew he wanted his own restaurant when he was 23. But he didn't make his move until he was 39. The property he and his wife, Sandra, bought is a restaurant with rooms for guests, which is down a quiet lane on the wooded slopes of a beautiful valley. “People will come and find you if you are good enough. That was the challenge.” Roger says the only unpredicted difficulty was the attitude of some of the customers. “It was hard to get used to being treated like servants.” For Sandra, the most demanding part was the physical work. She also had the difficulty of taking over someone else’s staff and someone else’s menus. She gradually changed the menus, and she has a little more time off now that the business is established.
Tony and Gina Wignell of Strathlachlan in Scotland, have spent their whole lives in the hotel and catering industry. They have made one major sacrifice, however, as by moving into a restaurant they have taken a considerable drop in income for a better quality of life. Tony and Gina used to manage a hotel, which provided financial security but never-ending work. Moving to the restaurant has meant working seven days a week in the high season, but they can make time for themselves by shutting in the afternoon. And by closing down entirely during the off-season, they get a clear two months off. But they found it hard to combine being in the restaurant trade with bringing up a family. Despite this they carried on and their children, now 18 and 20, look back and say that they never realised that there was any other life.
It's a similar story for Tina Bricknell-Webb and her husband Tony. “I’m on my feet for such long hours. You have to be incredibly strong to do this job.” Tina's first experience of cooking in a restaurant was when the chef walked out three days after it opened. Gradually, her confidence has built up. For Tony and Tina the hard work has been made worthwhile by a special award for excellent food. Tony believes their restaurant works because they run the show themselves. “If you have a place like this, the customers want to see you there every time they come in. You’re an actor and they’ve bought your performance with the price of a dinner.” Clearly proud of their achievement, the Bricknell-Webbs admit there have been sacrifices. They have no social life and no children. If they did start a family, the restaurant would have to go.
David and Jane Blackford found this to be true. When their restaurant opened for business they had two small children. “When they were very small we could manage by putting them to bed early but later there was a real conflict of interest. On Saturdays and Sundays we’d sit them down in front of videos. I ended up feeling it was David and the restaurant against me and the children.” When David caught pneumonia, they made their decision. The family had to come first. “One day we may have another adventure in the restaurant trade, but for the time being putting up the ‘closed’ sign has been a great relief.”
Perhaps David and Hilary Brown have the most perfect arrangement. Ever since they met at school in their teens they had dreamt of having a restaurant. While other teenagers went out to clubs, David and Hilary saved up to go to restaurants. When they saw a little restaurant for sale outside Edinburgh, they couldn’t resist. Now the restaurant, which holds thirty people, is their whole life. It is well known for its food and appears in the best guide books, so people are prepared to travel long distances to eat there.
If you had an opportunity what kind of restaurant would you open? What type of food would you serve? Use the words and ideas from tasks 1 – 2 part Reading.