Glossary of Restaurant Terms

If you are new to the restaurant business or intend to buy a restaurant, you will need to become familiar with the following restaurant terms:

5 Out: When a chef yells out "5 out!" they are telling the other cooks that the dish they are working on will be ready in 5 minutes.

86: "86" is used when a restaurant is unable to prepare a certain dish for some reason.

A La Carte: A la Carte refers to when a customer orders an individual dish from the menu.

Back of House (BOH): The back of the house refers to everything in the restaurant behind the dining room. This usually includes the kitchen, storage rooms, offices, and any prep rooms. The back end of the restaurant, typically the kifchen, prep, and storage areas.

Bev Nap: Bev naps are the small square paper napkins that are used in lieu of a coaster.

Blue-Plate Special: This dish refers to a low cost menu item that changes everyday and is typically served at diners and cafes.

Camper: A camper is a busy restaurant's least favorite kind of customer. The term refers to someone that has already paid and has finished their meal but will not leave their table. Campers lead to longer wait times when a restaurant is packed.

Check Back: This refers to when a server checks on how the customer's meal went while also dropping the check at the same time, as opposed to having them be two separate events.

Camp: "Comping" something means giving something away to your customer. Usually this is to smooth things over with a disgruntled customer who has had some part of their meal go wrong.

Cover: A cover refers to a single paying customer. A reservation for 5 people translates to 5 covers.

Dead Plate: A dead plate is a dish that cannot be served to customers. This can be for a number of reasons but includes poor appearance, incorrect temperature, taking too long to serve the dish, or wrong ingredients.

Douse It: When a customer requests to have their dish covered in extra sauce.

Expeditor: The employee responsible for arranging food from the kitchen and sending it out to the dining room for the servers.

Family Meal: A family meal, sometimes referred to as a staff meal, is a daily meal that the restaurant serves its employees, usually outside peak hours.

Fire: Orders given by the head of the kitchen to start preparing a certain dish.

Front of House (FOH): The front of house of a restaurant is everything that your customers can see. This includes the dining room and bar.

Ghost Restaurant: A ghost restaurant is a restaurant that is usually empty and generates almost all of its revenue through food delivery.

Happy Hour: Happy hours are ways for restaurants to drive more traffic into their restaurant during their off peak hours. Most of the time happy hour offers discounts.

Jumpin: A colloquial term to describe a very popular arid busy restaurant.

Kid's Meal: A kid's meal is a meal that is catered to and targeted to children. They usually include something to entertain a child.

Kill It: To overcook something, usually by the customer's request.

Maitre d'Hotel: A Maitre d'Hotel is usually something exclusive to high end restaurants, and is someone that welcomes guests, assigns their tables, takes reservations, and just makes sure that the guest has a generally good time.

Meat and Three: This type of restaurant offering is exclusive to the Southern United States and refers to a set menu where your customer can choose one meat and three side dishes.

No-Show: A guest that makes a reservation at your restaurant and then doesn't show up.

Nuke it: When kitchen staff microwave a dish to heat it up or cook it.

Party: A reference to the size of a group.

Pick Up: This is when one server takes over another server's tables.

Push It: Selling a particular item. Actively trying to sell one particular dish.

Quote: When a restaurant is busy, a quote time is the time that a member of restaurant staff tells a customer they will need to wait before being able to get a table.

Rollup: Dining utensils that are rolled up in napkins.

Runner: A person whose job is not to be assigned to certain tables such as servers, but rather to just run back and forth between the kitchen and dining room delivering dishes.

Serving Cart: A serving cart is a small cart that is used to help transport dishes to a table.

Server: Refers to a waiter or waitress.

Shelf Life: How long a particular ingredient can sit on the shelf before losing quality or expiring.

Sidework: Busy work that is done by the staff that is required to keep the restaurant operational. Includes refilling salt and pepper shakers and, refilling toothpicks and napkins.

Signature Dish: A signature dish is a menu item that is a specialty of the restaurant.

Sizzle Platter: A heavy duty metal plate that is used to serve sizzling dishes. They are good at maintaining heat.

Sommelier: An employee whose specialty is wine. Usually the one to make recommendations to customers about which wine pairs best with their dish of choice.

SOS: An abbreviation for "sauce on the side".

Sous-Chef: The second in command at your kitchen. The so us chef will be in charge when your main chef is off.

Starch: Starch refers to starchy sides such as rice, potatoes and pasta as alternatives to vegetables.

Station: A set number of tables that a server is assigned.

Still Mooing: Usually used to refer to a steak that is ordered rare.

Stretch It: Something that is done when a restaurant is running low on a certain ingredient, and they do whatever they can to "stretch" whatever is left to last them the entire night.

Table reservation: A table reservation refers to when a customer calls or makes a booking' online in advance to guarantee that a table will be available to them when they arrive.

Table Turns: Table turns refers to the number of times that a specific table has gone through the entire meal process (from being seated to paying) each shift.

Tare: The weight of the container that a product is delivered in, this number should be subtracted from the total weight of the product as to pay for an accurate weight.

The Boogie Man: A health inspector.

Top: The number of customers in a party, A seven top refers to a dining party of seven people.

Turn and Burn: To turn tables very quickly, usually a result of a busy restaurant with a long waiting list.

Upsell: When an employee tries to sell a guest something that is more expensive than what they have requested.

Value meal: A value meal is a combination of restaurant items that are bundled and offered together for a very low price. This is usually done to increase revenue at a restaurant by increasing the number of items ordered.

Window: A heated shelf where a prepared dish is placed to keep it warm while it waits for a server to take it to the customer.


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