How to tag a country/culture(?) specific store?

In my country you can sometimes encounter something similar to convenience stores but which sell items specific to another country or to the culture of that other country.

For example, there’s a Turkish specific shop (that’s how we call them here) which sells: turkish delight (so, sweets), coffee, coffee brewing pots, hummus and even purses with turkish designs on them.

Similarly, there’s an italian one which sells fresh vegetables and olives, fruits, wine, cheese, bread/pasta/rice and… some clothing items (e.g. t-shirts).

Similarly to the turkish one, the common element here is that all the merchandise is from the country which the store represents.

So, how should these be tagged? I don’t see them as convenience stores (because they most times lack the “variety of everyday products”), but they’re not coffee stores, clothing stores, greengrocers either… they’re an in-between. And I’d also like to be able to specify which country/culture the shop represents (can’t really use the name= for this)

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origin in addition to some shop value.


cuisine seems to be used for this in the UK. See e.g. here.


This seems to be what I’m looking for, indeed. Now onto finding a proper shop=* tag…

I also tag a lot of ethnic supermarkets and grocery stores with cuisine. At one point, iD added a Cuisine field to the Supermarket preset but quickly reverted it because the wiki seems to disagree with this practice:

The wiki seems to imply that this characteristic can be fully expressed as origin while cuisine is only for restaurants, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Many shops specialize in foods from a particular cuisine regardless of where the food was grown or non-food items from a particular culture regardless of where it was made.

For example, at an Asian supermarket in California, you’ll find American-grown vegetables from Asian cuisines that English doesn’t even have words for. Some of these cuisines don’t even correspond to a place, like Hmong cuisine. And of course some food might come from no country at all – origin=the Sea!? On the other hand, at a Latin American supermarket, you might find candles and other inedibles that are distinctive to Mexican traditions.

I think both cuisine and origin are relevant to shop tagging in terms of what an end user might search for. If this is an unsatisfying answer, maybe we need to consider a more holistic culture key.


If the shop doesn’t have full-service supermarket departments but still focuses on food, shop=grocery might be an option, despite what the wiki says:

If they sell a little bit of everything but don’t focus on foods and don’t carry any perishable foods, shop=general or shop=gift might apply.


cuisine= makes sense if the shop mostly deals with food, but it sounds weird to me when they also sell non-food items, like t-shirts :frowning:


I just added a note tag to the South Africa shop in Maidenhead, I once bought @Firefishy some special SA food there. In this case you could also add gift to the shop tag: shop=grocery;gift, although cuisine still looks odd.

Most shops like this survive by people regularly coming in to buy food products unobtainable elsewhere. They tend to be grocers as most goods for sale need a long shelf-life (or can be frozen), but shops where there are larger communities may also be able to source fresh vegetables not found in regular supermarkets and convenience stores.

The other items are a typical aspect of range extension: stocking items which you believe your customers will also buy. These usually have much higher margins, but stock turn is much lower: but when, say, a soccer or rugby World Cup is happening you want to make the most of it, as there’s potential for a lot of sales. Because these products are sold as part of a range extension strategy, the food element is vital to ensure that those customers continue to visit the store, so I’m also happy with shop=grocery, cuisine=*, because it captures the essence of the business.

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I agree that cuisine makes sense in this case. For example you can have cuisine=polish restaurant (or shop=food) despite every single item being grown or produced in Bangladesh.

It appears I may be in the minority, but cuisine=* for a store seems weird to me unless the store sells prepared, ready to eat meals. I.e. it is halfway to being a fast food place or restaurant. “Cuisine” means a style of cooking or food preparation. This makes perfect sense for restaurants, cafes, fast food places, etc. A store may sell the ingredients necessary to cook a certain cuisine, but the customer is free to use them to cook a different cuisine if they feel like it. The “type of food ingredients sold at a store” seems a bit different to me than the “type of dishes served at a restaurant”. Perhaps this is not different enough that it matters and cuisine can just be another OSM key that differs in meaning from the English word “cuisine”, but it feels rather strange to me.


I don’t think of it as a difference from the English word “cuisine” at all. We probably both agree on what constitutes Mexican cuisine, more or less, but differ on why Mexican cuisine is being mentioned in the context of a supermarket. Can cuisine=mexican only mean “serves food from Mexican cuisine”, or can it more broadly mean “known for facilitating Mexican cuisine”?

In linguistic terms, our key names introduce the comment but only imply the comment’s relationship to the topic (the feature). In other words, we lack true predicates. The few predicate-like keys that have been proposed end up looking out of place, such as is_sidepath:of. This predicate-less design enables iterative refinement but creates a lot of opportunities for misunderstanding.

I’d contend that the distinction between “serves food from a cuisine” and “caters to a cuisine” doesn’t really matter that much. If you search for supermarkets in Chicago and one of the results is labeled “Mexican”, you can safely assume that the supermarket carries fresh tortillas and pan dulce, even if both were made just steps away in the back of the store, well within the United States. I may buy bell peppers there for an Asian stir fry instead of for fajitas, but what difference does it make to the store’s overall character?

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That’s just it. I’d contend that what we’re really describing here is more about the store’s overall character than the cuisine(s) it facilitates. My local supermarket could reasonably be tagged with cuisine=american;mexican;jewish;italian;asian;etc because it has sections catering to these cuisines. Nobody would mistake this standard chain supermarket for a Mexican grocery store though. The character is completely different. One could argue that the presence of a Mexican section in a typical supermarket doesn’t qualify it to be tagged cuisine=mexican because that’s not what the store is known for, but it does facilitate that cuisine (among others) so I’d say it fits.

It seems like what we’re really looking for here is a tag to indicate the culture/character/type of a store. Relying solely on cuisine would make it more difficult to distinguish the Asian markets in my area from the supermarkets with (much more limited) Asian sections.

This is a fair point and I suppose if we only care about the basic selection of ingredients available then cuisine does the job just fine. The Mexican section in my local supermarket is decent, but it’s missing many things you’d find at a Mexican specific grocery store and it certainly doesn’t share the character. So it wouldn’t capture that fine distinction.


To be clear, I’m not advocating for blithely tagging every supermarket in your city with cuisine=mexican just because they all carry ingredients for making a taco. That’s the point at which you’d need to micromap each grocery store aisle. Nor am I suggesting that anyone inventory the store to determine the breakdown of products by cuisine.

At least in the U.S., an ethnic supermarket’s “character” influences the entire product selection, the branding and marketing, the decor, the language on all the price tags, even different amenities like a money transfer station. A mainstream supermarket and an ethnic supermarket can coexist side by side, something that almost never happens with two mainstream supermarkets.

Sure, we could call it the “culture” associated with a store. This would also allow us to express that a clothing store specializes in clothing from a culture, for example quinceañera dresses from culture=latin_american and saris from culture=south_asian. But I hesitate because it’s so prone to dilution. Before long, we’ll see culture=* tagged on ethnic enclaves as a crude proxy for demographic mapping, and then there’s that fraught discussion about tagging minority businesses. Keeping the focus on cuisines and food-oriented stores helps us avoid those much weightier, more subjective issues.


Maybe theme could also be used to tag the overall appearance? It would not be required for the shop owner to be from an ethnic/cultural minority, but focus on the appearance / theming.
e.g. shop:theme=chinese or mexican
Borrowing from playground:theme (I thought it was also proposed to use something similar to distinguish Irish pubs from other pubs, but I did not find much evidence when briefly looking for it).

It wouldn’t have to be restricted to nationalities but could be used for other shop theming as well.

E.g. could be useful to distinguish this kind of underwear shop (just making it up)

from ones like this:

I think this misses the point. This discussion isn’t really about the appearance and definitely isn’t about the owner’s identity, even if they may be correlated. The Japanese grocery store I shop at has no decor to speak of, and I don’t know if the shopkeeper is Japanese-American. :man_shrugging: It’s still a Japanese grocery store and they make sure you know that. They carry the authentic soy bean milk and handmade tofu that you won’t find at a mainstream supermarket fifty times its size, though I have to travel farther to a Vietnamese supermarket if I want the pandan-flavored soy bean milk or extra-firm tofu my family prefers.

If we need a more general term than “cuisine”, then I would prefer “specialty”, which avoids the risk of misuse in “culture” and the superficiality of “theme”. These are sometimes called “specialty stores”, although we would have to clarify that the tag is only for specialties that don’t already have dedicated shop=* tags. As with healthcare:speciality, we’d have to be somewhat vigilant about speciality=* turning into a marketing free-for-all.

I’ve also mapped some halal and kosher markets in my area. I’m unsure if we’d also want to fold these specialties under speciality=*, given the existing diet:*=* scheme.

(Note the extra “i” in speciality=*, because OSM is British-themed. :wink:)


Specialty seems a good term for what we’re talking about. The generic supermarket with an Asian food section does not specialize in it. The Tibetan market nearby does.

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OK, so the 7,739 non-eatery shops with cuisine would instead indicate the cuisine they specialize in using speciality=*. This would cause some data consumers like Organic Maps and OsmAnd to no longer list these shops by cuisine until they also add support for speciality=*.

What about the vegetarian supermarket that the wiki recommends tagging with diet:vegetarian=yes? That’s a specialty too, but apparently diet does not necessarily mean “serves food that adheres to a diet”.

How about this definition of speciality?

This key is for the shop’s specialty, the criteria according to which the shop defines its product selection. Use a more specific key or tag describing the specialty if it exists, for example, shop=health_food for a shop that specializes in healthful food. For a shop that specializes in a cuisine, use speciality=* instead of cuisine=*. For a specialty defined by diet, see diet:*=*. For a specialty defined by geography, see origin=*. For an eatery that specializes in a cuisine, use cuisine=* instead of speciality=*.

We’d also need to update the cuisine=* page, which has awkwardly talked about tagging cuisines on food shops since 2015 in response to a tagging mailing list thread. Avoiding cuisine=* still feels like a contradiction to me as long as we keep the other keys, but if this broadening of the term is causing confusion, then at least falling back to a new speciality=* key would avoid dataloss.

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I’ve been adding theme=irish for Irish Pubs. It’s even an iD preset. I don’t use cuisine=irish because (e.g.) a lot of the food served in Irish Pubs in USA is (I think) “generic American pub/restaurant food”.

I read theme as applying to the atmosphere, or decor, of a place, not directly what you can buy there. While a supermarket might have an ambience, I don’t think it’s quite right to combine that with “what sort of foods are available”


I still find cuisine=* very odd on fast food joints :wink:

Taytos at least: I spent an evening in an Irish pub in Offenburg about 25 years ago and the bar maid from Dundalk was flogging the Taytos like there was no tomorrow.

Ironically, in healthcare settings in the UK, the word is “specialty”!

Wait, what? Next you’ll tell me a round football is actually a soccer ball!

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