When I was in high school, I used to say that I could never work in a restaurant. I didn't think I had it in me.
But a friend got me a job as a hostess at a restaurant, and within a month the manager asked me to train to serve. Honestly believing that I couldn't do the job, I said yes and took on the challenge. I had a great server train me and within days I had gotten into the swing of things.
Now I've been serving for a year and a half, and if I've learned anything, it's the restaurant culture is unlike any other. Here are some terms I've learned in the kitchen.
1. "I'm weeded"
The interesting thing about this one is I only heard it once I moved to the South. I don't know if it was just the specific restaurant I worked at, but I didn't hear it in the North. I was very confused at first, but now it is one of my favorite terms.
Example: "I have seven tables. I'm weeded/in the weeds."
Servers are supposed to be "sat" one table at a time until the host has given one table to every server, then they start over and give everyone a second table, and so on. But things happen, sometimes people ask to sit in your section and all of a sudden you're double-sat. This also applies to triple-sat, quadruple-sat and so on.
Example: "The hostess double-sat me, and now I'm weeded."
This is one that I often accidentally apply to life outside the kitchen. When someone says something to you, us restaurant people acknowledge by saying "heard," sometimes including "heard that" or "heard" followed by repeating exactly what they said.
Example: someone says, "You got table 36." You say "Heard, table 36." This makes communication in an often hectic environment clearer.
86 simply means we are out of that item.
Example: "86 green beans" to which you would respond, "heard, 86 green beans." You get the idea.
5. "Behind/beside you!"
This is a great announcement to make particularly if you or someone else is carrying a tray of food. By shouting that you are "behind you" or "beside you," this more or less prevents getting bumped into and food getting spilled or anyone getting hurt. This is another phrase I carry over into everyday life, which I really shouldn't do.
Example: "Behind you!" "Heard!"
When you are cut that means you are not getting any more tables for the night. So, that means finish up the tables you do have, clean your section, complete your side work, print your checkout and go home! When you're having a particularly rough night, the best thing anyone can say to you is:
Example: "Hey, you're cut," to which you would likely to respond, either "heard, cut" or, more likely, "woohoo!"
7. "Side work"
Side work is all that annoying stuff you have to do besides actually waiting tables. This may be stocking the POS (Point of Sales) stations where the computer and receipt printers are, or it may be putting dishes away. It usually involves some sort of cleaning or stocking supplies, and you have to get signed off for completing it before you get to go home.
Example: "My side work tonight is to stock the drink stations." Ugh.
When something is "down" that means one of two things. Either, we are running low on some supply and someone needs to get some more or a food is being cooked.
Example: "Down biscuits!" means someone better put some more biscuits in the oven stat.
"You got fries down?" is asking whether the fry cook has french fries in the fryer.
To be a double means to work the lunch and dinner shift in one day, as opposed to just one of them. If you are a double you are supposed to get special treatment, which may or may not involve getting cut early in the dinner shift.
Example: "I am a double every Saturday."
At some restaurants, this may be called a "Team Leader," but at my current restaurant, it is called a closer. They are the person responsible for signing your checkout slip, which tells the manager you cleaned your section and completed your side work. A dinner closer is also responsible for shutting down the service stations at the end of the night.
Example: "Who is the closer tonight?"