Decoding Restaurant Lingo: Understanding the Slang Used in the Industry

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Are you a foodie who loves to dine out or an aspiring chef looking to break into the restaurant industry? If so, you’ve probably noticed that restaurant workers have their own unique language. This insider jargon, known as restaurant slang, is often used to quickly and efficiently communicate between front and back of the house staff. However, if you’re not in on the lingo, you might be left feeling like you’re missing out on the conversation.

Don’t worry though, because in this post we’ve got you covered with some of the most commonly used restaurant terms. Knowing these terms can help you better understand what’s happening in the kitchen, and even help you communicate with your server more effectively.

Have you ever heard a server mention that something is “86ed” or a chef call out for “all-day” orders? If you’re not familiar with restaurant lingo, you might feel lost in a sea of unfamiliar terminology. Understanding the slang used in restaurants can not only help you communicate better with your dining companions but also make your dining experience more enjoyable and informed. In this post, we’ll explore some common restaurant terms and their meanings, as well as offer tips on how to ensure a safe and satisfying meal.

Firstly, let’s talk about table sizes. “2-top” and “4-top” are terms used to describe a table that can seat two or four people, respectively. This is useful information for the host or server to know when assigning tables to customers.

A “2-top” table is perfect for a couple on a date night.

Another term you may hear is “86ed.” This means that an item on the menu is no longer available. It could be because the kitchen has run out of the ingredient, or because the restaurant is no longer offering that particular item.

The restaurant had to 86 the seafood pasta dish due to a shortage of fresh seafood.

“All-day” refers to the total number of orders of a particular menu item. For example, if a server receives three orders of a burger, and the kitchen has already received two orders, they would say that there are “five all-day.”

The chef needs to prepare five more orders of the steak, as there are five “all-day” already.

Moving on to the back of the house (BOH), this term refers to the area in the restaurant where the kitchen and other non-public areas are located. The front of the house (FOH) is the area of the restaurant that is visible to customers, such as the dining room and bar.

The back of the house is where the chef works their magic in the kitchen, while the front of the house is where the guests are seated.

A “busser” is a member of the restaurant staff responsible for clearing tables and resetting them for new customers. They play a crucial role in maintaining a clean and welcoming atmosphere for guests.

The busser cleared the table and reset it with fresh linens and utensils for the next guests.

When a customer’s meal is “comped,” it means that it is being provided for free. This could be due to an error in the kitchen, a dissatisfied customer, or as a gesture of goodwill.

The restaurant comped the dessert for the customer, who was disappointed with the service.

To “cut” a server means to end their shift early, typically because there are fewer customers than expected or because the restaurant is closing early. While it may be a relief to get off work early, it can also mean a loss of income for the server.

The manager had to cut the server’s shift short due to a slow night.

When a server “drops” an order, it means that they have submitted it to the kitchen for preparation. Similarly, “dropping the check” means to provide the bill to the customer.

The server quickly dropped the order off to the kitchen to get it started.

Being “double-sat” means that a server has been assigned two tables at the same time. This can be overwhelming for the server and may result in slower service.

The double-sat server struggled to keep up with both tables and had to ask for help from a coworker.

An “expo” is a member of the restaurant staff responsible for ensuring that each dish is prepared correctly and presented beautifully before it leaves the kitchen.

The expo carefully inspected each dish before sending it out to the customers.

“In the weeds” is a term used to describe a server who is overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with their tables. This could be due to a sudden influx of customers, understaffing, or other factors.

The server felt “in the weeds” with too many tables to handle at once.

“Mise en place” refers to the preparation and organization of ingredients and equipment before a dish is prepared. It’s a French term that translates to “putting in place” and is essential to maintaining an efficient kitchen.

The chef prepared all the ingredients and organized them in the kitchen for mise en place before starting to cook.

“On the fly” means that a dish is being prepared quickly and without the typical preparation process. This could be due to a customer’s allergy or preference or a mistake in the kitchen.

The customer requested a burger “on the fly” with no lettuce or tomato.

“POS” stands for point of sale and refers to the software or hardware used to process transactions and track inventory in a restaurant.

The restaurant upgraded their POS system to make transactions and inventory tracking more efficient.

If you work or are planning to work in the hospitality industry, it’s also equally important to know about safety guidelines in the restaurant industry. Proper training in food handling and preparation is necessary to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Wearing appropriate clothing and non-slip shoes are also essential to avoid accidents in the kitchen. And clear communication with coworkers and managers can prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth and safe working environment.

By familiarizing yourself with restaurant jargon and following safety protocols, you can help create a pleasant experience for both customers and employees. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and clarify unfamiliar terms – your coworkers will appreciate your effort to communicate effectively.