Restaurant Terminology

Today I want to cover the topic of restaurant terminology. If you’re new to serving you might find that you’re hearing some words around the restaurant that make you scratch your head. So let’s clear the air a little and go over some of these terms so you don’t feel out of the loop.

Here is a list of some commonly used terms that you’ll be hearing.

M.O.D. – Stands for Manager On Duty

Full hands in, full hands out – This is great for time management, it simply means when you’re entering or leaving the dining area, kitchen, service bar you should always have your hands full. This is working smarter not harder and makes your job a lot easier.

(an example is if you’re coming back to the kitchen with dirty plates you should take some food out to tables when you’re leaving, or if you bring glassware to the service bar area then run any drinks waiting to be taken)

Soft sell – This is also known as up-selling. Basically, if someone orders a scotch on the rocks you can ask them if they want a double or if someone orders a meal then you can ask if they want an appetizer first or a side dish with their main. This helps increase your average check and in return will increase your tip.

Cutting the board – A term used when dividing the dining area into sections for servers.

Chit/Ticket – The piece of paper that prints to the bar or kitchen when you send an order through the P.O.S.

P.O.S. – Stands for Point of Sale and is the computer system used for ordering food or drinks and more.

Board/line/pass – I’m also sure there are other names for this but it refers to the area where a server would pick up food from the kitchen.

On the fly/to sell – You forgot to order someone’s garlic bread or cocktail or simply a guest wants to add something to their meal they have just received. These terms let the kitchen or bar know that you need to get what you have just asked for out to the guest A.S.A.P.

Behind – If you’re walking behind another server who is clearing a table or has their hands full (or you do) then calling out “behind” lets them know you’re there. I’ve seen many disasters which could have simply been avoided if they just called out “Behind”.

Sharp – Usually used in the kitchen this allows others around know that you have a knife or something sharp while you’re moving around.

On line – A kitchen term that let’s other cooks know that a cook is back or currently in their section.

Off line – Let’s other cooks know that you are not at your station (perhaps you need something from the fridge or store-room).

Hot around/Hot behind – Informs others that you’re carrying something hot when coming around a corner or are behind them.

Day dots – A self-adhesive sticker used to track the dates which food or beverage items have been prepared

FIFO – Stands for “First In, First Out” – Refers to a method used both in the kitchen and bar area. Obviously, you would use something that was prepared on Monday morning first, and not the same thing that was prepared Monday evening right?. Same goes when taking out food and drinks to a table. If there are 4 different tables orders ready at once you’re going to run the one that was ordered first, just refer to the times printed on the chits.

86’d – A very popular and often used term in the restaurant industry. Simply put “86’d” means that the restaurant has run out of something or it is unavailable.

(this restaurant terminology term and its origin is something I have looked far and wide for, if you’re interested in looking at a few different theories then an article I read recently had some pretty interesting ones. You can find that article here)

Flow/glide path – You’re constantly on the move as a server so you need to choose a smooth flowing “flow/glide path” to help you work more efficiently with less effort. Have a mental blueprint of the best way you can walk through your section, bar, dish pit and kitchen. This will help you with your time management (remember above when I said to work smarter and not harder?).

All day – This is a consolidation or the total number of single menu items currently ordered. For example: “There are 4 caesar salads all day”.

E.T.A. – This stands for Estimated Time of Arrival.

Hands – This normally gets called out by the kitchen or bartender. It’s basically a call for servers (or anyone) to run food or drinks out to a table because they are ready.

Open count – An open count is the number of potential orders that could be coming to the bar or kitchen. This can be determined by the number of menu’s that are still on tables.

Virgins – Not what you think but along the same lines. This is a term used for people who have never been to your restaurant before.

The wood – Another term used for the bar.

Pick up/fire – If a table had appetizers then this is the term you use when wanting the kitchen to start on their main course or from the main course to dessert etc.

So hopefully this will help you understand if someone tells you “Hey buddy, we are 86’d bacon” (Noooooo!) or “Can I get hands please” or any of the other terms you may hear while working.

If you have found that I have missed a restaurant terminology word above and you want it to be explained, or you heard something that you have never heard before then please leave a comment below.

Thanks and have a fun-filled week.