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Cooks, waiters and waitresses, and combined food-preparation and serving workers comprised nearly 3 out of 5 workers in this industry. About 2 out of 5 employees work part time, more than twice the proportion for all industries.

Job opportunities will be plentiful because large numbers of young and part-time workers will leave their jobs in the industry, creating substantial replacement needs.



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Food services and drinking places may be the world’s most widespread and familiar industry. These establishments include all types of restaurants, from fast-food eateries to formal dining establishments. They also include cafeterias, caterers, bars, and food service contractors that operate the food services at places such as schools, sports arenas, and hospitals.

In 2006, there were 524,000 privately owned food service and drinking places across the United States. As shown in table 1, about 46 percent of establishments in this industry are limited-service eating places, such as fast-food restaurants, cafeterias, and snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars, that primarily serve patrons who order or select items and pay before eating. Full-service restaurants account for about 39 percent of establishments and cater to patrons who order, are served, and consume their food while seated, and then pay after eating. Drinking places (alcoholic beverages)—bars, pubs, nightclubs, and taverns—primarily prepare and serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. Drinking places comprise about 9 percent of all establishments in this industry. Special food services, such as food-service contractors, caterers, and mobile food-service vendors, account for 5 percent of establishments in the industry.
[ Excerpted from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition - Food Services and Drinking Places ]

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