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View of a Fast Food establishment (thermopolium, popina, taberna) at Pompeii. This is the Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus that is located on the lower floor of his house. It is situated on the main street of Pompeii, the via dell' Abbondanza. Food and drink were sold and consumed here Note the large storage jars that are built into the masonry and marble counters.
On the back wall is a well–preserved lararium, a shrine dedicated to the household gods. Among others Mercury, the god of trade, and Dionysus, the god of wine are depicted. A hoard of 6.6 lbs. of worthless coins were found in one of the jars. Evidently left behind when the owner fled Pompeii as ash rained down from the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius. In the back of the shop, not visible, was a slightly more private eating area.
83 thermopolia have been discovered at Pompeii. These were small cook–shops where hot and cold food was sold. They were used primarily by the lower classes as the elites would dine in the luxurious surroundings of their own homes. The houses of lower classes of people rarely had kitchens, thus they would eat at an establishment such as this, or they would "carry out" the food to take back home. These thermopolia were situated street side on the ground floor of apartment buildings and even elite houses.
Besides the 83 discovered at Pompeii, thermopolia have also been discovered at nearby Herculaneum and at Ostia, the port of Rome.