Quite similar to modern snack bars, Thermopolia were a popular institution in Pompeii.
They consisted of a main room, opening onto the road, where drinks and hot food were served; they had stone countertops, often decorated, with built-in recesses for dolia -jars containing food and liquids.
Customers could sit and eat their meals in the rooms at the back. The Thermopolium of Asellina, which served hot and cold drinks, cooked food, and even provided rooms for sex, upstairs; it is situated along via dell’Abbondanza.
During excavations, furnishings were found all in their original places, including amphorae for wine, a funnel, a phallic-shaped lamp lighting the counter and keeping away the evil eye, and even a pot on the stove. Some graffiti found there seem to indicate that, in addition to providing his customers with refreshments, Asellina could also offer customers the company of young girls.
With Pompeii being a harbor town and with so many people arriving from all over the Mediterranean, the farsighted owner probably engaged girls from different countries, so that foreigners could feel at home frequenting an inn where they could encounter women from their own countries.