The term gastronomy, a practice in which one seeks to find, eat, and possibly cook the finest food, was combined in 2008 by Jose Carlos Capel with the term bar, an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages across a long counter that separates a bar tender from his or her customers. Capel recognized that some fine hotels had begun to experiment with French cooking by creating essentially the finest finger food for the patrons of the hotel bar.
The usual practice was to bring the hotel bar’s alcoholic beverages to the customers before, during, and after meals that they had ordered in the hotel restaurant. The new idea enabled waiters, who fetched drinks from the bar for the restaurant guests by carrying the drinks on a small tray, to also carry small portions of food, such as tapas, on the same tray to the bar patrons. But, for many hotels, the result went beyond improving the efficiency of some of their employees. They got new patrons at the bar, patrons that appreciated food choices beyond, barbecued wings and sandwiches.
A hotel might create a gastro bar closer to their restaurant, which would shorten the distance for waiters to travel, and create upscale appeal to patrons who had dressed up to come to dinner at the hotel. Plus, the gastro bar provided patrons a better place to hang out (and make purchases of drinks and high-end eats) while they waited for an open table. The regular hotel bar could then remain what it was, a drinking hole where one did not dress up or put on airs. Add a wide-screen television the standard bar, run ESPN sports non-stop and the old bar becomes a sports bar. You’ll find no French food there.
By the way, a salad bar is an exception. Credit Norman Brinker with creating the concept of a long bar with salad and salad condiment choices meant to appeal to people who do not want to eat something that used to wear a face. But, no alcoholic beverages come from a salad bar, and rarely will a vegetarian order an alcoholic beverage with a meal of salad.
More than a trendy name, the term gastro bar gives definition to the distinction of the type of food that can be paired with drinks. For the restaurants, the distinction about the gastro bar, and all of their bars is about creating new profit centers that support the bottom line profitability of the hotel. Fundamentally, the distinctions are meant to attract new customers without offending the old customers who consider the bar to be where they hang out with their friends. You are more likely to see the term gastro bar in Europe. Bon Appétit (and cheers)!
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