So, what does 86 mean in the Restaurant Business? That’s a great question. There are dozens of terms that can be made synonymous with the Food Service Industry but no one term is more frequently used than the term “86”. The majority of it use is to be a metaphor for any item the restaurant is currently out of. Ex) “We are 86 Lobster for the rest of the night” When you arrive to work always make sure and check with your managers or chef to make sure your kitchen is not “86” any items. Another common use of this term is in waiter shorthand. Waiters can use the term “86” to refer to anything that the guest requests be omitted from the order. Ex) “How long on a Deluxe Burger 86 onion and tomato?”
Different restaurants you come in contact with may used different variations of the term and nobody really knows where the term came from but there are definitely plenty of theories. One theory is the called “The Soup Kitchen Theory”. The theory states: During the depression of the 1930s, soup kitchens would often make just enough soup for 85 people. If you were next in line after number 85, you were ‘86ed‘. Another one of the more common theories is the “Eight Feet by Six Feet Theory“. This theory suggests the infamous term originated from a coffin.
A coffin is usually eight feet long and is buried six feet under. Once in your coffin you’ve been ‘eight by sixed‘, which shortens to ’86ed’ We may never know where the term came from but it is important you understand the terms specific uses in your restaurant to avoid any incident that could negatively affect the experience of your guest. For more information on How to be a Waiter go back and check out all of our other posts and for more information on how to get WaiterPop Certified check out the link to change the way you think about the food service industry forever.