86 – Restaurant Slang

There are many different slang words and phrases that help a restaurant become more efficient. I work at Perkins as a cook and if I was coming in as a new cook than I would be lost. People throw out words that aren’t what people use in everyday life. The answer of why the restaurant business does this is simple, its time. Cooks and servers don’t have time to sit there and explain what they need because it is wasting time, especially when the restaurant is busy. Not just cooks and servers do this; people in school and work do this as well. For example, a college student listening to a lecture and the teacher talks way to fast, to write everything down they abbreviate. Cooks and servers do this to have faster and more efficient service.

There are typical words you here in the restaurant business. To start off the day I hear things like can you grab me a baker, this simply means can you grab me a baked potato. So in return I go to grab a baker and I find that there are none left. So I run back to the kitchen and yell 86 bakers. 86 bakers mean there are no longer any more baked potatoes in the building and the servers have to tell the customers to order something else. 86 something can also be used with any other kind of food. I then get back to my station and I ask the wheel which is the person reading of the tickets to the cooks, how many cakes I have all day. A cake is another word for a pancake and all day is how many cakes all together are on the tickets. The person in charge up front then comes back and says I have a fourteen, twelve, and an eight top. This means there is a dining party of fourteen, twelve, and eight at separate tables. In other words these are going to long tickets, on separate trays, and we should get prepared and stocked.

When the parties are ready to be served we will say hot food in the window. The window is a heat lamp where food transitions from the kitchen to the dining room. Hot food also means that the servers need to get the food out to the customers as soon as possible. Occasionally, a server will ask for a small or medium round, this could be confusing to some but means they want a small or medium plate. Also if the person in charge up front isn’t telling the cooks how many tops we have then I can ask for a menu count. They may say 5 open menus. A menu count is simply just counting how many menus people are looking at in the dining room so the cooks can know if they can take a break, let people off, start cleaning or start closing. There are a lot slang words for food or instruments like, CFS, Scrambler set up, or a spat. These are pretty easy to interpret, a CFS is a country fried steak, scrambler set up is a little bowl that holds breakfast potatoes and a spat is a spatula.

To end the day I might ask someone if I can clock out. In return they might say sure if you got all your side-work done. Words like clock out or side-work might be confusing to some but clocking out is signing out on the computer so you can get off work and leave and side-work is s seemingly list of preparatory tasks like taking out the trash, stocking my area, or sweeping the floor.

Shorting up words in the restaurant business can be very helpful to speed up the process of getting food out to the customers. In my opinion, I think that these words are very creative and when you start working in this business it starts making sense of why they use them. It’s hard to tell who made up the words but I’m sure they just evolved over time.

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