29 CFR § 779.387 - “Restaurant” exemption under section 13(b) (8).
(a) As amended in 1966, the Act, in section 13(b) (8), exempts from its overtime pay provisions “any employee employed by an establishment which is a * * * restaurant”. The term restaurant as used in section 13(b)(8) of the Act means an establishment which is primarily engaged in selling and serving to purchasers at retail prepared food and beverages for immediate consumption on the premises. This includes such establishments commonly known as lunch counters, refreshment stands, cafes, cafeterias, coffee shops, diners, dining rooms, lunch rooms, or tea rooms. The term “restaurant” does not include drinking establishments, such as bars or cocktail lounges, whose sales of alcoholic beverages exceed the receipts from sales of prepared foods and nonalcoholic beverages. Certain food or beverage service employees of establishments such as bars and cocktail lounges, however, may be exempt under section 13(b)(18).
(b) Not all places where food is served for immediate consumption on the premises are “restaurant” establishments within the meaning of section 13(b)(8). Such service is sometimes provided as an incidental activity of an establishment of another kind, rather than by an establishment possessing the physical and functional characteristics of a separate place of business engaged in restaurant operations. In such event, the establishment providing the meal service is not an establishment “which is” a restaurant as section 13(b)(8) requires for exemption. Further, not every place which serves meals, even if it should qualify as a separate food service establishment, possesses the characteristics of a “restaurant.” The meals served by restaurants are characteristically priced, offered, ordered, and served for consumption by and paid for by the customer on an individual meal basis. A restaurant functions principally, and not merely incidentally, to meet the immediate needs and desires of the individual customer for refreshment at the particular time that he visits the establishment for the purpose. A separate transaction to accommodate these needs and desires takes place on the occasion of each such visit. A “restaurant”, therefore, is to be distinguished from an establishment offering meal service on a boarding or term basis or providing such service only as an incident to the operation of an enterprise of another kind and primarily to meet institutional needs for continuing meal service to persons whose continued presence is required for such operation. Accordingly, a boarding house is not a “restaurant” within the meaning of section 13(b)(8), nor are the dining facilities of a boarding school, college or university which serve its students and faculty, nor are the luncheon facilities provided for private and public day school students, nor are other institutional food service facilities providing long-term meal service to stable groups of individuals as an incident to institutional operations in a manner wholly dissimilar to the typical transactions between a restaurant and its customers.