So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Some terms that a new waiter needs to know pt.2

Walk-in – That big cold room where they keep the perishable food. It’s only called a walk-in if you can walk into it. Otherwise, it’s a reach-in or a refrigerator. Alternately, it’s a table that hasn’t made a reservation and has, wait for it…walked in and wanted a table. Get it?

Tray Jack – a folding/collapasable thingy that can act as a stand for a large food tray. Looks slightly like a TV tray table, except that it usually has a pair of straps that holds it together when unfolded.

Stiff – something that a server dreads above almost anything, even working Sunday lunch. Strictly speaking, it’s a zero tip. However, in common parlance, it’s any really bad tip (like 5%). Some servers even use it for a substandard tip like 13%, but I maintain that this is diluting the supreme power and terror of the word.

Spiel/Scripting – the recitation of the specials. Sometimes you’ll hear “scripting the specials”.

Sections – the grouping of tables into discrete blocks and assigned to a specific server or servers. This is the server’s “real estate”.

Closing section – usually the section that checks out the other servers and usually has little sidework other than doing the walk-through with the closing manager. Usually reserved for the stronger servers. Usually leaves last, but can actually leave before someone else who might have a camper.

Camper – a table that sits…and sits…and sits…and sits…and…well, you get the idea.

Walk-through – the final inspection of the restaurant at the closing of the shift. Usually done with the closing manager and the closing server.

Run/ride/follow/– the transfer of a table’s food from the kitchen to the table. A ride or a follow is the helping of another server, servers or food runners in the running of the food.

POS – the computer system that handles all of the business of the dining room and kitchen. Stands for “point-of-sale”. Alternately, stands for “piece of shit”. This meaning can also apply to the POS system, but can also refer to anything from the Assistant Manager to a greedy server to the salt shaker whose rubber stopper just won’t stay put.

Pantry – the part of the line where you get salads, desserts, appetizers, etc. It does not refer to the room where the dry goods are stored. That is called:

Dry storage/lager – Yep, that’s where you get the food that doesn’t have to be stored under refrigeration.

Dishland – affectionate term for the dishwasher area.

Dishwasher – the most important person in the restaurant.

Order fire – in systems where you pre-order your food, this is where you’re ordering the food and firing it at the same time because they don’t have an intermediate course. Chefs don’t particularly like this because it makes it look like you’re trying to jump the queue. So, whenever possible, if you can wait until close to the time that you know that any lengthy items that have to be started early are finished, try to hold off on order firing.

Mise en Place – a line cook’s prep setup for service. This includes anything that has to be cut, chopped, pureed, blended, seared, soaked, or spooned into a hot pan or dish. Everything is arranged so that it falls to hand and the line cook doesn’t have to think about where everything is. This is sacrosanct territory and should never…let me repeat this…never ever be messed with. The server has no reason to ever touch, remove, play with, or even covet in his or her mind anything in the mise (pronounced meez). If you need something that the line cook has, always ask politely if you can have some and let them give it to you.

 French service – the serving of family style side dishes by the waiter onto the plates of the guests rather than letting them do it themselves. Usually done with a serving spoon and a fork or two serving spoons, chopsticks-style. Actually involves a lot more detail, but this is what is usually meant.

Ranch dressing the object of scorn by waiters around the Northern Hemisphere. A white, viscous substance used to mask the fresh flavors of a salad, or used as a dipping sauce for things as diverse as raw cauliflower to various fried substances. Also used as a yang counterpoint to buffalo wings’ yin.

Pre-shift – the pre-service meeting where information is disseminated to the service staff. Sometimes used to “inspect the troops”.

Family meal – the free (usually) meal prepared by the kitchen for the staff. Sometimes it’s a creative use of leftovers or excess inventory. Sometimes it’s a  failed science experiment utilizing ingredients approaching toxic waste category. And sometimes it’s just a thing of simple beauty.

Bacon – a miracle material that makes just about everything taste better. Alternately, the money that you bring home.

Grease – an additional tip on top of an auto-grat or mandatory service charge.

Double-bump – a usually unintentional full gratuity added on top of an auto-grat or mandatory service charge.

In the rough – the state of being that occurs right before getting “in the weeds”.  The point where the server is at the tipping point. It’s the point where the ship can either been righted or can sink like a stone.  First publicly coined by the blogster bitterwaitress. the term comes from golf, where a golfer has missed the fairway and landed in the tall grass that abuts the short cut grass of the fairway.

2 responses to “Some terms that a new waiter needs to know pt.2

  1. Pingback: A few more waiter’s terms « So You Want To Be A Waiter

  2. Pingback: A few more waiter’s terms « So You Want To Be A Waiter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: