Where would you rather go for a bite to eat: a restaurant or a café? Hold it – isn’t a café also a restaurant? Yeah, sure, but you can’t call some restaurants cafés…..can ya?

For instance, a restaurant that specializes in fine dining – you know, expensive entrees, a wine list, meticulous décor…..those definitely do not fall into the café category. But on the other hand, a small roadside café that features sandwiches, burgers, coffee, and pie CAN be called a restaurant. The main difference between restaurants and cafés falls into the hands of the restaurant, and those who like to elevate themselves from a lunch room status to an eatery that is not a sandwich shop, burger joint, or coffee shop.

Any eatery that serves food and drinks is technically a restaurant. But what separates a café from a restaurant? A homey atmosphere, a smalltown feel, a friendly place to gab with friends, a roadside stop for coffee and/or sandwich, a one-room dining area, and many times they have a sign out front that says “EAT”.

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Cafés - you can get in and out fast if you’re in a hurry.
Restaurants - places to go where you can spend a little leisure, taking your time eating and talking.

Cafés usually have a limited menu with lighter meals and menu items like sandwiches, french fries, onion rings, pies, breakfast all day, and drinks.
Restaurants can also be distinguished if they serve a certain cuisine: like Asian, Mexican, Greek, Italian, German, etc.

Cafés have fresh coffee brewing all day.
Restaurants aren’t as vigilant with their coffee, giving them time to focus mainly on their variety of entrees.

Café - you can pull in for a quick cup, go pee, sometimes get gas, and leave.
Restaurant - nope. Can't do that.

“Café” basically means “coffee”.
“Restaurant” comes from the French word “restaurer”, meaning to "restore and/or refresh”.

All that said, now take a look at some old Michigan cafés, some going back over 100 years!

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