Restaurant people are truly a different breed.
They look different, with their own clothes and tattoos. They keep their own hours, heading to work when most of us are heading home, and going out when we’re going to sleep. The industry has its own rites and rituals, its own rules, and its own language.
Dining room jargon–
BOH: Back Of the House; the kitchen, walk-in, or any other area where you don’t deal with customers; BOH also refers to the people who work there. FOH: Front Of the House is the bar, the dining room, or anywhere else the staff deals with customers, as well as the people who work those areas.
[ _ ]-Top: describes the table’s seating– a 4-top seats four; a 2-top seats two but is better known as a Deuce, and a Hi-top is a tall table like you’d find in a bar area.
Covers: the count of meals served; multiply the tops by the Turns (the number of seatings at a single table) and you’ll get the total covers.
What they call us–
Diners are called Campers when they linger too long at the table, or Cupcakes when they’re flirting with staff. If it’s an open kitchen there are probably a few other coded descriptors.
A PPX is an Extraordinary Person–it might be written on the ticket to signal VIP treatment. It’s not just for celebrities and high rollers; someone might write NPR on a ticket to tell the staff that Nice People Are Rewarded too.
There are numerous unprintable phrases to describe a bad tipper; some of the kinder ones are Stiff and Flea.
After you place your order, the kitchen might print out Dupes; these are duplicate tickets frequently printed in multiples on color-coded paper to signify courses. The dupes are hung on the Rail or the Board where they’re considered On Deck.
If your server has checked the Low Board they know the Count of a particular menu item; if it’s 86′ed you’re out of luck. In a hurry? The cooks will be told it’s On the Fly, and they’ll Fire the dish immediately.
When multiple cooks are working different components of a single dish they’ll call 3 Out or 5 Out to signal to the others that they’ll be ready to plate their items in the stated number of minutes. All Day counts the number of dishes that the cook is readying at that particular time, as in ‘I’ve got 2 lamb and 3 risotto all day.’
Cooked orders go from the Line to the Pass, a long counter surface where they’re plated and picked up by servers. If the kitchen is In the Weeds with too many dupes, the orders won’t be Coming On Up as quickly as they should. Conversely, if the waitstaff is Slammed the orders can sit there Dying on the Pass.
Learn to speak their language and who knows—the next time you’re at your deuce in the FOH, you just might find yourself comped like a real PPX.