So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

World’s largest restaurant…

…according to The Guinness Book of World Records is outside of Damascus and is named, appropriately enough, Damascus Gate, or Bawabet Dimashq in Arabic.

It serves approximately 5,000 diners and has 54,000 m² (581,251 f²) of dining room and 2500 sq/m (26,909 f²) of kitchen.

Over half a million square feet? Really? To give you a rough idea of the scale of this restaurant, have you ever been to the  Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the newest part of the National Air and Space Museum in Fairfax Virginia, near Dulles? You know, the building that houses the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Enola Gay B-29, the Concorde, a Boeing 367-80 and an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. And those are just aircraft that are physically on the floor. They only take up about half of the floor space – you walk under quite a few planes that surround these aircraft. That hangar is only about 250,000 f².


I believe that NPR did a story on this restaurant on All Things Considered earlier this year.

It supplanted the previous record holders, both in Bangkok – Tumnak Thai and its successor, The Royal Dragon (Mang Gorn Luang ), both famous for roller skating waiters. The Royal Dragon is a mere piker at only 33,500  m².

BTW, what is the world’s smallest restaurant?

Well, that’s debatable. And, of course, someone has debated it here:

There’s one that they missed – Table for Two in Portland OR, although it’s really just a single table offshoot of a catering company in a larger house. That’s why I think that the Finnish restaurant in the above comparison is hands-down the winner. 

The smallest true restaurant that I’ve ever eaten in was Harry’s On Teur in Memphis, TN. I believe that there were only 5 or 6 tables (you might have been able to serve around 20 people at once). There was one waitress and Harry, who did all of the cooking. Harry was a guy who had been part of the rock and roll world in his early days (the “On Teur” was a play on that). He opened the tiny restaurant in 1989 and it was open for about 6 years. A couple of years after he closed it, he went to jail for stabbing a guy and later went through rehab. When he got out, he opened two new places. The day I ate at the original Harry’s, it was a lunch of mahi-mahi with some sort of caper sauce that was delicious (sorry I can’t be more specific, but this was 20 years ago after all. I think it was a $6 lunch). Harry Nicholas died in 2006 when he was struck by a car while walking on a dimly lit road in Midtown Memphis.

You can find this picture of Damascus Gate and other shots from syria here:

This picture of The Royal Dragon is found here:


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