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Glossary of Terms

List of Common Words Used in the Restaurant Business


Back of House- Refers to the area of a restaurant that guests are not allowed. The kitchen, dishwashing area and wait station are all located in the back of the house.

Bar-back- An assistant for the bartender. A bar-back usually runs glasses through the dishwasher, stocks the coolers and liquor bottles, and pours beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks for the wait staff.

Bussing- Term used for clearing off and resetting tables after guests have left. In busier restaurants this is done by the busboy (also called a busser).

Chaffing Dish- A metal dish that is filled with water and kept warm with a candle or fuel cell underneath. These are typically used on buffets.

Eight-Six-If the kitchen runs out of a particular dish, the dish is “86.”

Expediter- The kitchen staff who groups plated food together by table number, for the servers to deliver.

Front of House- Refers to the area of a restaurant where guests are allowed. The dining room and bar are all in the front of the house.

Host/Hostess-The person who meets the guests and shows them to their table. The host is also responsible for keeping track of reservations and waiting lines.

In the Weeds- A term that means it is really, really busy. For example, if the kitchen has several orders across the board and are having a hard time keeping up, they are “in the weeds.”

Line- The line is the area that divides the cooks from the wait staff. It is where the food is placed to await pickup.

Mise en Place- Refers to the set up of the sauté station. Essentially, it means everything in its place. Most cooks put certain ingredients in a certain spot each shift (salt and pepper to the right, olive oil to the left).

Plating- Putting the food on the plate is referred to plating. This includes adding any sauce or garnish before handing over to the expeditor or the server.

POS System– A point of sale system is a computer system that helps businesses track sales. It also tracks employee sales (who sold the most during a shift) and which dishes are sold most often.

On the Fly- Get it done right now! This term pops up when something has to be cooked last minute.

Sections- Many restaurant dining rooms are divided into sections, and each section goes to a particular wait staff each shift.

Sharking- Luring an employee from one restaurant to another is called sharking.

Turnover Rate- How fast tables empty and fill during a shift. A high turnover rate means more people have eaten and gone, while a slow turnover rate means the same people have been at the table for a long time, or the table is sitting empty.

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