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Asked by Josie Sporer
Restaurants and Dining Establishments

Why do restaurants give out free bread?


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Carmelo Hoeger
December 12, 2019 9:12PM

There are a lot of theories, none of them definitive. One is based on a historical precedent—supposedly, tavern owners typically served only one meal per day, and they offered diners free bread because it was a cheap way to fill them up before the main course. Thus, they ate less of the more expensive latter courses of meat or fish, saving the tavern money.

Another theory is that free bread gives people something to do and eat when they sit down, so they are less impatient waiting for their food to arrive. Others believe the bread is a simple sign of the restaurant’s hospitality.