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Learn the A-Z of Restaurant Lingo, Front to Back.

Our unique restaurant language is a crucial part of our lurid industry. It's a universal language These terms help staff effectively communicate and orchestrate shift after shift at the restaurant with supreme performance. Learn the lingo to earn your spot in our beautiful mayhem

Front of House (FOH)

  • 86 – The kitchen ran out or the chef is cutting it. 86 Fried Perch!

  • All Day – The total of orders from fresh tickets is called out ‘all day’. 7 Caesars all day!

  • Behind – Call out this warning so people in front of you don’t crash into your trays of food.

  • Campers – Slang for diners lingering at their table without ordering or eating.

  • Chit – Slang for order ticket.

  • Coming in/around Hot; Hot – Announcing that you are coming through with hot food.

  • Comp- Not charging a diner for something. The chicken is comped.

  • Corner – Call out this warning when rounding a corner with tray service.

  • Covers – The number of guests served in a shift or wave of business.

  • Cut – When the boss ends a shift short.

  • Double – Two serving shifts worked in a row. I’m working a double on Mother’s Day.

  • FOH – Front of house, meaning the area of the restaurant where the host, servers, runners, bussers, and bartenders work.

  • Heard – That harmonic term called out when the FOH and BOH are in sync and that you understand the instructions.

  • In the Weeds – Overwhelmed with loads of orders. Sweating and panicking about it.

  • Mid – A work shift that starts midday.

  • On the Fly – Much to the chagrin of the chef, quickly adding or correcting an order, usually because the server forgot something on the ticket.

  • One Star – A customer determined to report a negative experience in a review.

  • Party – A group of restaurant guests. Party of 6.

  • QSR – Acronym for quick service restaurant.

  • Run – To quickly and calmly bring something to a table. You’re not actually running a race here.

  • Runner – Someone who helps the servers deliver to the tables.

  • Scripting – Describing and selling the specials to the diners.

  • Split Shift – When, in one day, a staff member works two separate shifts with a break in between.

  • Styling – When a server is a total rock star while operating at maximum capacity. You’re styling this Friday night, Olivia!

  • Sub – To substitute one menu item for another. Subbing fries for broccoli.

  • Table turn – The full cycle of a table: sitting diners, serving, taking payment, cleaning, and setting up for the next party.

  • Top – The number in a dining party at a table. Can you take that 3 top for me?

  • Walkout- The miserable bane of society, the diner who leaves without paying.

  • Waxing a table – Treating a party like royalty or VIPs.

Back of House (BOH)

  • BOH – Back of House. The back of the restaurant, meaning the kitchen and storage areas where the cooks, preps, and dishwashers work.

  • Bump it – To move an order off the cook screen once it is prepared.

  • Drop – Start cooking the side dishes. Drop those frites.

  • Expo – Expeditor. The person in charge of reading out orders that come in, and organizing and adding the final touches to the orders on their way out of the kitchen.

  • FIFO – Full hands in, Full hands out; First in, First out. Prepped food items timed correctly for the dish.

  • Fire it – Order given to start preparing the dish. Fire the duck confit for table 5.

  • Fly – When you need to stop what you are doing and make something asap. I need a burger on the fly!

  • Mise en Place – Our favorite French term that translates to, “everything in place” and make sure your workstation is tidy and ready to go.

  • Sharp – Call out this warning when you’re moving through with a sharp object in hand.

  • Side work – The less diner-focused work duties in a restaurant, including cleaning, garbage, prep work, etc.

  • Walk – When you’re moving with a dish that is ready to be served. Walking 2 burgers!

  • Walk-in – Refers to the walk-in refrigerator.

  • Reach In-The knee-high fridge beneath you.

  • Wheelman – The kitchen expeditor. See Expo.

  • Working – Food that is currently in preparation.


If you’re looking for a successful career in the hospitality industry or are opening your own venue, we can help. Contact Clock’d now for a hands-on approach to preparing and placing you in the right restaurant.


Marc LaPierre is a 10-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Certified Staffing Professional, and CEO/Founder of Clock’d + SEEN. From cooking in James Beard award-winning kitchens to opening and managing a nightclub in Mexico, he worked every job in the industry. Today he connects professionals looking to advance their careers with clients eager to find an all-star team.


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