There are many people who are tired of the confusion between a “restaurant” and a “cafe”. If you are one of these, you’d want to clear that concept and stop interchanging these words. And if you don’t, the chances are high that you will end up getting embarrassed in some situations when asked if it is a restaurant or cafe.

Whether you want to grab a quick cup of coffee with a savory croissant or a five-course meal with your family, you should know the right terminologies for the place you are visiting. That’s why we are here.

In this blog, we will look at the key factors that differentiate a cafe from a restaurant. So get ready for an informative culinary journey.

restaurant or cafe

What is a Restaurant?

A restaurant can be simply defined as a place or setting where people visit to enjoy delicious food. Restaurants may be specialized in one kind of cuisine or be multidisciplinary. They boast a huge dining area where people sit to relish food, and waiters cater to their needs, including taking orders, offering finger bowls, bringing bills, beverages, food, water, etc.

Many restaurants also serve various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Most restaurants are open for lunch and dinner.

What is a Cafe?

The primary characteristic of a cafe is that its menu is specifically focused on the different kinds of coffee. They have fully-fledged expresso machines for making these coffees. Moreover, they serve various munchies, snacks, and bakery items along with beverages.

Cafes are primarily self-service ones, where you go to the counter, place your order, and collect it when it is ready. Usually, cafes are only open for breakfast and brunches.

Also, read – 60+ Best Café Names in India [Unique & Catchy]

The difference between a Restaurant and a Cafe

There are many factors that clearly state the difference between restaurant and cafe. These include the following:

  • Ambiance
  • Menu
  • Purpose
  • Pricing
  • Capacity and Size
  • Service

Let us have a detailed look at each of these.

Difference in Ambiance

Cafes are usually styled with lighter furniture articles and focus on the creative aspect of the ambiance. One common aspect that is in trend when it comes to cafes is a bookshelf. Added to this is the presence of wall arts, games, music, and other forms of live entertainment to delight the audience. But there is a difference between cafe and restaurant when it comes to ambiance.

Restaurants, on the other hand, are meant to host larger groups of friends, families, or colleagues. Keeping this in mind, restaurants include heavy furniture, classical interiors, a focus on cleanliness, and an open ambiance. This will also reflect in the lighting used in the setting.

cafe and restaurant

Difference in Menu

The major difference between a cafe and restaurant is also in terms of their respective menus. The menu of a restaurant is more extensive and focused on fine dining. Hence, customers get to choose from a wide variety of dishes and courses. On the contrary, a cafe is usually open for breakfast or snacks, so the menu will have lighter food options like pastries, breads, and other baked goods.

Additionally, restaurants often have more specialized menus than cafes. This is due to the fact that restaurants tend to focus on a particular cuisine or style of cooking, whereas cafes typically offer a more general selection of food.

Also, read – What is Menu Engineering? Increase your Restaurant Profit


The cafe and restaurant difference is significant when it comes to the purpose. Restaurants tend to be more appropriate for louder gatherings and social events like family dinners, office parties, etc. On the other hand, cafes are comparatively cozier and quieter. They hence serve as intimate settings suitable for quick snacks, celebrations with friends, etc.

How’s the pricing different in Restaurant & Cafe

There is a general trend of higher restaurant prices compared to cafes. This is due to the fact that eating at a restaurant typically involves consuming a more substantial meal. This means spending more time and effort by the chefs, which increases their salary cap as well. Cafes, on the other hand, typically have more limited but more affordably priced menus. This is a big difference between restaurant and cafe.

Capacity & Size differences

When comparing the capacity and size of a cafe and restaurant, there are significant differences between the two. On an average, a restaurant can accommodate more than a hundred customers at once due to its larger size. However, a cafe can usually fit between twenty and thirty people. They might not have a full kitchen and have smaller dining areas. The more extensive space requirements of a restaurant over a cafe can be traced back to the former’s original purpose, and the latter’s simpler menu offerings.


Restaurants typically have table service, meaning that customers are seated and served by waitstaff. By contrast, most cafes offer self-service, meaning that customers order and pay for their food and drinks at the counter and then serve themselves. This can make cafes more casual and laid-back than restaurants.

Billing Software

While both types of businesses need to track sales and inventory, cafe owners may be more interested in software that can handle table management, ingredient management, etc. On the other hand, restaurant owners might want to include features like table merging, counter-wise KOT, bill splitting, etc.

Whatever your needs, IVEPOS offers the best cafeteria and restaurant management POS software for you.

difference between cafe and restaurant

Which is Better for What Occasions?

There is a wide variety of restaurant or cafe to choose from, each with its own vibe and allure. It’s crucial to think about your expectations before settling on a restaurant or cafe for a special occasion.

In general, dining out at a restaurant is a more formal experience, making it ideal for:

  • Business lunches
  • Other special occasions

Cafes are great places for:

  • Remote workers.
  • Casual get-togethers with friends
  • Quick snacks

The best option for any given scenario is entirely dependent on the individual and their desired experiences.


We’ve covered the main difference between restaurant and cafe, but in the end, it’s all about liking. Two very different kinds of fun can be had at two very different kinds of eateries. Typically, both the more formal setting of a restaurant and the more relaxed vibe of a cafe can provide a pleasant experience. With this newly gained understanding of the key distinctions between both, you can now enjoy a better culinary exploration wherever you go.