Among the many skills you’ll gain working in a restaurant, a lesser known (and, unfortunately, seldom celebrated) skill is the ability to understand restaurant lingo, or speak “restaurantese.”
Restaurant Lingo Defined
Whether you’ve worked as a line cook, a server, a manager, or a bartender, chances are words like “86”, “all day”, and “crop-dusting” are now and forever part of your vernacular. (For more “restaurantese,” click here.)
Restaurant lingo doesn’t stop at the end of a shift, though, and if you’ve ever wondered, “What is a clopen?” or “What does BD mean?,” then this is the article for you.
To prevent you from an awkward and embarrassing “Huh?” moment, we’ve put together some definitions of commonly used restaurant scheduling terms:
BOH and FOH Meaning and more
86 or 86ed
Eighty-six is traditinoal restaurant slang BOH and FOH staff use to signal eachother that an item on the menu isn’t available anymore, "The salmon is 86ed!" Another use of 86 is to signal that it's time to escoft out a customer who's had one too many.
BOH and FOH
A restaurant is split into two parts: Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH). FOH covers anyone working in a client-facing environment (servers, bartenders, hostesses, etc), while BOH includes kitchen staff and, occasionally, managers who steal away to their office to work.
When a friend clocks in or out for you at the start or end of a shift. Managers, this is something to keep a close eye on, as repeated buddy punching can cost you big bucks.
Business Decline (BD)
As your restaurant’s traffic starts to die down or thin out, this is known as a business decline (BD). Typically, a BD signals it’s time to start sending staff home, matching supply to demand. (By the way, did we mention we have a special BD shift end time function?)
A “clopen” involves locking the doors at the end of the night, only to return early the next morning for an opening shift. Because staff sometimes have as little as eight hours between shifts, a number of states/provinces have actually outlawed this practice. Make sure you double-check before scheduling staff on a clopen.
Working a double means you are on back-to-back shifts. If this sounds like you, chat to your manager and confirm you’ll be paid OT.
This one has a somewhat grim connotation, but when it comes to the restaurant industry a “graveyard shift” simply means a night shift.
As the name suggests, a no-show is someone who doesn’t show up to work. This also applies to reservations that make a booking but don’t honour it.
In the restaurant industry, POS refers to a 'point of sale' system. Modern POS systems are typically on a tablet, used for managing payments and, in some cases, time-clocking. Some popular include great companies like TouchBistro, Toast, Breadcrumb or Cake.
Shift pools contain a collection of open shifts that are generally up-for-grabs on a first-come, first-serve basis—no pun intended.
A split shift is a special schedule type that breaks the workday up into chunks corresponding to peak periods (mealtimes, in the case of a restaurant). Staff on a split shift have short, unpaid breaks between working hours, making it a great labour cost management strategy for managers but a logistical pain for staff.
Spread of hours
Some states requires one hour of extra pay when an employee’s shift spread of hours exceeds 10 hours (from the start of the day to the end of the day, including meal and break time)