Talk This Way

By Leah Blewett
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 20, 2006

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It may not be recognized as a full-on dialect, but restaurant-ese is definitely a language all its own. It's spoken all around you as you enjoy your meal. Listen carefully and you'll probably catch some snippets:

"Eighty-six the tuna spec!"

"Get that six-top split for deuces quickly so you don't get double-sat."

"I said fire my second fucking course on table thirty-fucking-five!"

Yes, the curses are a crucial part of the language. But beyond that, there are all kinds of peculiar little abbreviations and overused phrases that make up the vocabulary of people "in the biz." Allow me to translate. I speak fluent restaurant-ese.

86: verb, to run out or get rid of. "Eighty-six all specials, because you guys sold them out. And while you're at it, 86 the booze for those drunks at the bar--they're cut off."

Deuce: noun, table of two. "Please get this deuce away from the host stand and seat them at table 14. That woman's mink is aggravating my allergies."

Double-sat: adjective phrase, when more than one table has been seated in your section at once. Close relative to triple-sat and quadruple-sat, both of which roughly mean you're going to give crappy service and be tipped accordingly, even though it's not your fault the host stand just threw you under the bus (see below). "I just got double-sat and have to run my ass off to take care of both of them at the same time."

Fire: verb, "Chef, if it please you, would you please be so kind as to begin preparing the next course for my table?" "I fired that 20 minutes ago. Where the fuck are those fucking fries?"

In the weeds: adjective phrase, way the hell behind. It's also possible to get weeded, or need to plug in the weed whacker to bail out a co-worker. "Can someone please pour some water for my five new tables so I can get out of the weeds?"

Spec: noun, a delicious addition to tonight's menu. "Go spiel that spec tartare to table 64, and if they don't buy it you're fired for being a crappy salesperson. No pressure."

Throw under the bus: verb, to get in big trouble. "Why'd you tell the GM I've been slurping wine in the service bar all shift? Way to throw me under the bus."

Of course these are just examples. Language is a mutable commodity, and as such, it's totally possible to make these little snippets work in conjunction with others. Or with each other, as in, "Let's quadruple-seat Leah with these four deuces, just to throw her under the bus. She'll have to fire all their food at once, which will put the kitchen in the weeds, and there's no way she'll have time to spiel the specs."

To which I reply: "Eighty-six this server. I'm going home."

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