The History of Dumbwaiters

Dumbwaiters | Siyakhula elevators

A dumbwaiter is a small lift that is used to carry food up to a restaurant from the kitchens below, and to take dirty dishes back down – a hidden but necessary device in many restaurants and cafés. These devices are created to carry products and not people between floors.

The origin of dumbwaiters

Dumbwaiters have been around for many years. The very first record of use dates back to 200BC during the age of the Romans. An architect designed the installation of a dumbwaiter to allow the movement of goods.

Why it is called a dumbwaiter?

The expression ‘dumbwaiter’ came to be as the lift that was used in enormous houses that the kitchens and staff were situated in the basements. These servants would then use the lift to transport food and dishes to the dining room and back down again. This allowed noise and cooking smell to be secluded from the guests and patrons. The origin of this term was that this lift was a way of having a silent waiter, not being seen and heard.

Past Dumbwaiters

Many dumbwaiters were simple human controlled devices, where a rope looped around a puller which was controlled by a person. A service lift such as this is still in use today. Older versions even had tubes for speaking, which allowed waiters to speak to chefs in the kitchen.

Modern Dumbwaiters

Today, this service lift is very much still alive and in many bars and restaurants. Dumbwaiters have become a reliable invention and essential to the catering industry. 20th century changes meant the introduction of heated cabins, intercoms, safety locks and the ability to choose where to stop off.

Dumbwaiters in the future

Where next for this trusty invention? With townhouses becoming popular – architects are recognizing the need to be able to transport items between floors without carrying heavy items up a number of stairs. Architects and house developers are adding buyer incentive to their homes by adding dumbwaiters.


Get a dumbwaiter installed

If you are in need of moving small quantities around your home or simply need it for the use of a restaurant, call Siyakhula Elevators today! Our Dumbwaiters is perfect as only takes a small area and are highly customisable! 

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