Family Style Restaurants: An American Tradition

In many areas of the state of Pennsylvania, there are large populations of Amish people. Traditionally, Amish families eat almost every meal together, particularly dinner. They would be seated together at long tables and share their meal by passing around large dishes where each person can take a serving and pass it on to the next person. This type of eating has become popular with restaurants in the region, known as "family style." These styles of restaurants can also be found in many other states, all with similar origins. Other areas include Utah, where there is a large population of Mormon residents. 


Before there were public restaurants, families gathered together after a long hard day of work to dine. Religious families like the Amish or Mormons typically had larger sized families, so there were always more mouths to feed. Dining rooms had large tables and plenty of chairs so that everyone sat together while eating. The women of the household would prepare large batches of everything from rolls and potatoes to meat based dishes. These dishes were lovingly made and served on a large platter or in a large bowl, and everyone could serve themselves however much they wanted.

Food Styles and Dishes

In today's modern family style restaurants, you will often see traditional comfort foods being served. There are no fancy meals here; just good, hearty, simple food. These restaurants are designed to continue on the tradition of eating family style, bringing heaping servings in single dishes to the table and allowing guests to take from each dish and pass them on to the next person. While the food may vary from region to region, the premise is that people can come and enjoy some down home cooking. Here are some examples of popular foods found in many family style restaurants;

  • Freshly baked ham
  • Fried Chicken
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Collard greens or green beans
  • Stews and soup
  • Pork dishes such as barbecue or pork chops
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Large pitchers of iced tea
  • Pies and cakes


Today's dining public often enjoys a meal with larger groups of friends or family. This makes family style eating ideal, since everyone can be seated together, enjoy each other's company, and participate in enjoying the same foods. It is a very "no frills" style of eating, and servers simply bring the large dishes to the table and let patrons serve themselves. These kinds of restaurants provide a comfortable, casual place where people can gather together and enjoy fellowship, conversation, and a good, hearty meal together. 

To learn more, contact a restaurant like Buffalo Phil's Pizza & Grille