Glossary of Restaurant Industry Terms

Glossary of Restaurant Industry Terms

Like any workplace, restaurants have their own lingo. Get a handle on these terms and speak like a pro from front-of-the-house to the walk-ins.

All Day
An announced confirmation of the total number of a specific food item needed, considering all orders. For example:"I have two medium steaks on the first check and three rare steaks on the second check. I need five 'all day.'

Aperitif
The term used for a drink, generally alcoholic, when it is imbibed before a meal and taken either as a palette cleanser or as an appetizer.

Appetizer
A small dish served before the main courses of a meal. In some cases the purpose is to stimulate or tease the appetite but usually the purpose is to reduce the appetite without spoiling it for the main meal. Although this food is characteristically served in small portions, it can be elaborately prepared with expensive ingredients.

Back-of-the-House
Typically refers to the cooking and storage areas and the staff that works there. With the exception of a 'show kitchen', this area is typically not visible by the guests.

Busser
This is the person in charge of clearing, cleaning and resetting the tables in the dining area. Bussers are also in charge of removing dishes from tables as guests progress through their courses to make room for other dishes or to maintain a clean dining surface. Servers typically give a percentage of their earned tips to the bussing staff.

Campers
Restaurant guests who linger at their table long after their meal courses have been completed and may consequently obstruct further business by limiting seating capacity.

Check Cover
A book or folio used by the server to transport the check or bill to the guest and to transport payment from the table.

Eighty-six ('86')
A colloquial expression, either meaning that an item has run out or that an item should be gotten rid of due to product expiration or menu changes. Sometimes jokingly used in reference to employee termination.

Entree
The term usually refers to the main course of a meal but can also mean any major course.

Expediter
The expediter is in charge of assembling the components and proper presentation of all dishes for each table order in a timely manner to be delivered by the server or food-runner.

Fire It!
A term used to let a cook know when to begin cooking a food item, usually paced to be timed with an entire order.

Food Runner
A server assistant whose main duty is to deliver food to tables once order assembly is completed by the expediter. The food runner may also assist in drink-filling, plate-clearing or expediting if others are busy.

Front-of-the-House
Typically refers to the dining area and sections of a restaurant that is viewable by dining guests. The font-of-the-house may include bussing, server and host stations.

Gratuity
See "TIPS" below.

In the Weeds
A colloquial expression used when persons are near or beyond their capacity to handle a situation or cannot catch up. Struggling. Very busy.

Line Cook
A cook who works under the direction of the chef or kitchen manager. Usually is in charge of a specific aspect of cooking and dish preparation.

On-The-Fly
A directive given to a line cook when a food item is needed in a hurry. Usually employed when an item is returned to be re-fired (re-cooked) or when a server forgets to place an order on time. The term "rush-it" may also be applied in these situations.

On-The-Rocks
A cocktail or beverage that contains cubes of ice.

Party
A self-contained group of two or more who have gathered to dine at an eating establishment.

Reach-In
A refrigeration unit or freezer unit small enough that a person can reach in to access the units contents but not big enough to enter. Units housed below production surfaces or on the floor in production areas are often referred to as "Lowboys".

Refer
A colloquial term for a refrigeration unit.

Server
The representative of the eating establishment that takes orders, serves food and tends to the needs of dining guests.

Server's Assistant
The position is also sometimes known as Bus person, Busser, Assistant Waiter or Food Runner. This person, along with the Server, helps tend to the needs of a table of customers. The person's duties may include filling beverage glasses, delivering food, removing unwanted dishes or taking small orders. The Server's Assistant is sometimes a Server-in-training.

Side-work
In addition to serving customers and waiting tables, the serving staff is assigned odd jobs such as stocking, cleaning and rolling silverware.

Sous Chef
The sous chef serves directly under the executive chef as second-in-command of the kitchen.

Stiffed
Colloquial term to describe when a customer does not pay a gratuity for service in a situation where a gratuity is expected.

TIPS
Money paid by customers directly to bartenders, servers or other personnel for the services they have given. In industries and locations where tips are customary, the amount of money given is expected to reflect the quality of service received.

Walk-in
A refrigeration unit or freezer unit large enough for a person to physically enter through a door. A refrigeration or freezer room.

Working for Tips
Colloquial term used to describe persons whose main income is dependent on the gratuities they earn and not on the wages they are paid.

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