Industry directories offer a really good way to not only find out about a particular restaurant or hotel, but they can also be helpful for understanding the industry in a particular town or city. By using directories one can develop a rough approximation of dates based on when they were first and last listed, though there can be a delay in the information.
If the industry directories listed below are not available or you are trying to understand what was happening in a city or town a certain time period, regular city business directories and telephone books will be helpful even if the information they provide may not be extensive and limited to location only. The city business directories vary in terms of organization and content. Some have a classified section to look up restaurants, saloons, hotels, etc. gathered in one list and often give the owner, officer, and manager information while others may just provide an A-Z list. Many directories often had large advertisements which could provide additional insight into the establishment and sometimes even an image of the business.
One source to mention specifically is from Dun & Bradstreet (formerly Mercantile Agency and R. G. Dun). They published many titles but the most relevant here is the Reference Book. This title includes most businesses and is organized by state and then by city/town. It will not provide extensive information but you will find a sales range and bill paying ability, something not available in other directories. The Library has digitized some editions; see below record for more information.
Local libraries and historical societies will often have directories for their area and some are in Ancestry.com so check you local library for access. More discussion on directories can be found in our Doing Historical Company Research Guide.
The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.