Is Working in a Restaurant Considered Retail?

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Having spent countless hours in the bustling realm of restaurant kitchens and dining halls, I’ve often pondered the classification of this unique domain. 

Is working in a restaurant like being part of the vibrant retail world? Let’s explore this question with a touch of culinary expertise and unravel the truth behind the connection.

Is Working in a Restaurant Considered Retail?

No, working in a restaurant is not considered retail, as restaurants provide a service rather than selling physical goods. 

However, certain fast-food chains like McDonald’s blur the line between retail and service due to their standardized product offerings and customer interaction at the point of sale.

What is Retail?

Before determining if working in a restaurant is considered retail, let’s clarify what retail means. 

Retail refers to the process of selling goods or services directly to consumers for personal use. 

It involves the exchange of products or services in a physical or digital setting, typically within a store or an online platform.

Are Restaurants Retailers?

Restaurants, at their core, provide food and beverages to customers. While they may not fit a retail store’s traditional mold, they share some similarities. Let’s explore if restaurants can be classified as retailers:

  • Customer interaction: Restaurants, like retail businesses, directly interact with customers by offering products and services.
  • Consumer-driven: Both retail and restaurants cater to consumer demands and strive to provide a positive experience.
  • Sales transactions: Restaurants exchange goods (food and beverages) for monetary payment, similar to retail establishments.

What Are The Different Types of Retail Businesses?

interior of a restaurant

Retail encompasses a wide range of businesses, including:

  • Clothing and apparel stores: These stores sell clothing, accessories, and footwear.
  • Grocery stores: They offer a variety of food products, household items, and personal care products.
  • Electronics stores: These establishments sell electronic devices, appliances, and related accessories.
  • Department stores: They provide various products, including clothing, home goods, electronics, and more.

Is Retail the Same as Restaurant?

While there are similarities between retail and restaurants, they also have distinct differences:

  • Product vs. Service: Retail primarily focuses on selling physical products, whereas restaurants provide services in the form of food and beverages.
  • Merchandise vs. Menu: Retail businesses display and sell merchandise, while restaurants offer menus with food and drink options.
  • Inventory Management: Retail stores manage the inventory of physical goods, whereas restaurants handle perishable food items with different inventory challenges.

Is McDonald’s a Retail or Service?

McDonald’s, one of the world’s most recognizable fast-food chains, blurs the line between retail and service. While it falls under the category of food service, it also possesses retail-like characteristics [1]:

  • Product offerings: McDonald’s provides a menu of food and beverages, similar to a retail establishment showcasing its products.
  • Point of Sale: Customers place orders at a counter and receive their food at a designated pickup area, resembling a retail transaction.
  • Branding and marketing: McDonald’s employs marketing strategies commonly seen in retail to promote its brand and attract customers.


After careful consideration, it’s clear that working in a restaurant is not typically classified as retail. 

While there may be some overlapping characteristics, such as customer interactions and sales transactions, the fundamental distinction lies in providing a service rather than selling physical goods. 

Restaurants belong to the vibrant world of the food service industry, where culinary craftsmanship and hospitality take center stage. 

So, whether you find yourself behind the line or serving at the table, relish the unique experience of working in a restaurant where the magic of food and the art of service converge.


Lauren Beck
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