Restaurant Glossary and Terms

Back of the house: The back end of a restaurant, where the kitchen, prep areas, storage areas, lockers and sometimes offices are located. Where chefs, cooks, prep staff and dishwashers work.

Busser/busboy: Front of the house staff whose exact duties vary from restaurant to restaurant. Generally responsible for setting and re-setting tables, clearing dirty dishes, and serving bread and water to guests throughout their visit. Also often runs food to tables.

Cover: Another name for a guest, i.e. "It was slow, we only did 20 covers all night".

Deuce: A party of two

Double/Triple sat: When separate parties are seated in one server/busser's section within a short time span, i.e. "I just got triple sat in five minutes."

Executive chef: Also known as the head chef, in charge of the kitchen and the menu

Expeditor: The person in charge of organizing the food from the kitchen and sending it out into the restaurant, making sure everything is going out to the right place at the right time.

Family meal: Also known as staff meal, is prepared by the kitchen for the entire restaurant staff to share, free of charge, generally using leftover and unused ingredients.

Fine dining: A restaurant characterized by the high quality of its cuisine and its service, a pricey menu and beautiful decor, presentation and atmosphere.

Floor Manager: The restaurant manager who is on site during service and is responsible for delegating assignments and filling in during peak service hours. Usually responsible for making the schedule.

Front of the house: The front end of the restaurant, where the main dining area, the bar and the waiting area are located. Where servers, bussers, bartenders and hosts work.

Inventory: The amount of food and beverage product and serving and cleaning supplies that are in the restaurant. Inventory is usually counted once a week, by the same person or pair of people.

Line cook: Working under the executive and sous chefs, line cooks are responsible for preparing much of a restaurants food, and are each assigned to a particular part of the line, i.e. the grill, the vegetable prep area, etc.

Maître d’: Also known as a host, responsible for assigning tables to guests and sometimes for assigning sections of the restaurant to different servers/bussers.

Points system: A system used to allocate tips to eligible employees, i.e., a server may get 3 points and a busser may get 1 point, and each point is worth a percentage of the tips.

Runner: Person responsible for running food items from the kitchen to the tables. Is often the job of the busser, but can also be a whole separate position.

Section: The set number of tables assigned to servers and bussers

Server: More commonly used term for waiter or waitress, the main point of contact for a guest's service experience, responsible for taking orders and attending to tables for the duration of their visit.

Sideboard: Area to store extra dishes, glasses, silverware, linens, and other food prep items.

Sidework: Important tasks that need to be done whenever one isn't directly interacting with guests. Tasks include refilling water bottles, folding napkins and linens, polishing silverware/glasses, re-stocking ice, cups, silverware, etc. Preparing any food or food items that are used near-constantly (bread and butter, lemons, salt and pepper, etc.), and general cleaning and maintenance of food prep and work areas.

Sous chef: Second in command in the kitchen under the executive chef, will run the kitchen when the executive chef is not there.

Tableware: All appointed items for setting a table, i.e. the glassware, silverware, dishes.

Table turn: The amount of time between a guest leaving and a table being completely re-set for the next guest.

Tips: Also known as gratuity, the money that a guest pays directly to servers (and indirectly to other tipped employees) for good service.

Top: The number of people in a party; a three-top is a party of three, a six-top is a party of six, etc.

Walk-in: Refrigerated room for cold storage of perishable items.

Waste: Food supplies that are dropped, soiled, incorrectly prepared and otherwise misused and thrown away.