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The focus of this portion of our guide is on places to eat or drink in Midland, Michigan.

Restaurants and bars may be referred to by a variety of names, often reflecting the owner's preference. Some of the most common are restaurants, cafes, and diners, as well as bars, saloons, and taverns, although there are many more.

Common types of restaurants include fine dining, casual dining, contemporary casual, family-style, fast-casual, fast food, cafeteria, buffet, food trucks and concession stands, pop-up restaurants, and ghost restaurants.

Fine dining establishments are establishments that many people will visit only on special occasions, such as anniversaries, weddings, or holidays. They will have a formal dress code, high-end decor, a formal atmosphere, and menus that include several courses or exotic ingredients. Prices will be high.

Casual dining restaurants generally offer moderately-priced menus, table service, a low-key atmosphere, and unique decor, although the atmosphere may vary greatly depending on the intended customer base or brand.

Contemporary casual restaurants tend to be modern and have a distinct brand, often with an emphasis on decor and food presentation. They offer table service, but at a price somewhere between that of casual dining and fine dining establishments.

Fast casual restaurants are a step above fast-food restaurants in that they offer quick service, food that healthier than fast food options, and are more affordable than sit-down, casual restaurants. The quality and price of menu items are higher than fast food but lower than casual dining. Generally, they offer counter service, but with tables for the use of customers.

Most fast-food restaurants are chains, such as McDonald's, although they may be independent. In a fast-food place, the focus is on rapid service, and they usually offer both counter service and drive-through service. Menu items are standardized, made of processed food, and served in disposable containers.

Cafes (cafeterias) are often known as coffee shops, in that they focus on serving coffee, tea, soft drinks, pastries, and small items for breakfast or lunch. With a relaxed atmosphere, they tend to be places where customers are welcome to socialize over a cup of coffee.

Buffets offer a wide selection for customers to choose from, usually at a fixed price. Guests serve themselves from buffet bars that may feature multiple cuisines, or the focus might be on Chinese food. Swedish smorgasbords are another example of a buffet-style restaurant.

Food trucks and concession stands tend to be mobile and may be set up near sports events or in areas with high pedestrian traffic. Others might travel predetermined routes, as catering trucks serving employees during lunch periods. These businesses will serve a limited menu consisting of a singular type of food, such as hot dogs, sandwiches, or ice cream.

Pop-up restaurants are a fairly new idea, in which owners or chefs try out new restaurant concepts on a short-term basis, from a few hours to a few months, in shipping containers, unused buildings, rooftop gardens, or even outdoor spaces.

Ghost restaurants have no brick-and-mortar locations, offering food by delivery only. These restaurants usually have a strong web and social media presence, and will often partner with third-party delivery services, such as UberEats.

There are several types of bars, as well. As most of them also sell food, they can be indistinguishable from a restaurant that sells beer, wine, and liquor.

Hotel bars are, as you might expect, situated on the premises of a hotel. Often, they have individual names, and many hotel bars have a clientele beyond that of guests of the hotel. Usually, they sell food as well as serve drinks, although they are often connected with a restaurant, with customers given the option of dining in the restaurant or in the bar.

Nostalgia bars are often genuinely old establishments that feature yellowed newspaper articles, black-and-white photos, and other memorabilia. An example of these are bars that began as a speakeasy during the Prohibition years.

Sports bars will have large television screens showing several sports games and will tend to be crowded during significant games. They tend to be loud, and the focus is on beer rather than wine or mixed drinks, although they may serve these as well.

Neighborhood bars are generally frequented by locals, and are often owned and operated by someone who is well known in the community. The focus is usually on inexpensive drinks and comradery.

Pubs tend to be larger than neighborhood bars, and to have more of a focus on both food and drink. The clientele in a pub is likely to be a mixture of locals and tourists, who may choose to sit at the bar or at a table or booth.

These are just a few. Other saloons, taverns, or bars may feature live music, as well.



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