Understanding Hospitality Terms & Jargon for Improved Communication
The hospitality Industry has developed it's own vocabulary that allows for effective and efficient communication. It is important to learn these terms to understand your peers and communicate cohesively. Here’s your guide to some common (and not so common) restaurant terms.
Restaurant / Kitchen Terms & Jargon
- 2-Top, 3-top, etc...- This is the number of guests you seat at a table.
- 86: a term used when the restaurant has run out of, or is unable to prepare a particular menu item. This term can also be used when removing a guest from the premises for disorderly behavior.
- All Day: The total amount. If table 7 orders two orders of chicken fingers and table 11 orders four orders of chicken fingers, that’s “six chicken fingers, all day.”
- À la carte: This is a French term which means that the item is ordered as a separate dish; not part of a set menu.
- Back of the House (BOH): The back of the house staff is the team members who work in the “back” of the restaurant. These employees include are the chefs, kitchen prep, and storage area staff.
- Bev Nap: The little square paper napkin which a beverage rests on.
- Busser: This is the staff member who cleans up the tables and prepares them for the next guests.
Campers: These are guests who linger at their table after they’ve finished their meals and paid the check.
- Comp: To give something away free
- Cover: A guest, a common metric to discuss guest count
- Cut: When a server has been stopped from serving more tables for the current shift.
- Dead plate: This term is often heard in the back of the house. It’s a plate that has been in the window and under the heat lamps for too long.
- Double or Double Shift: Two shifts in a row (typically a lunch and dinner shift)
- Double/Triple Sat: When more than one table is seated in the same servers section at the same time.
- Drop the Check: Taking a guest’s bill to their table for payment.
- Drop: Start cooking the accompanied item
- Expo: The person in charge of prepping the plates and making sure their presentation is on point before it leaves the kitchen.
- Fire: The kitchen uses this term to let everyone know it’s time to start cooking or prepping a dish.
- Front of the house (FOH): This is the front of the restaurant – the dining room, waiting area and the bar. This is where the customer-facing employees are: the servers, hostesses, bartenders, etc.
- FSR: An acronym for a full-service restaurant.
- Heard: A response to confirm that you have understood the request
- In the Weeds: If a server is swamped and typically overwhelmed– perhaps they have a lot of tables to serve at once, was double-sat, or has a large party.
- Last Call: This is a warning that bartenders and servers use to notify customers when the kitchen or bar is about to close.
- On the fly: To request a dish be made immediately. This is usually due to a kitchen and/or server mistake such as a forgotten ticket, dropped, or incorrectly prepared item.
- Party: A group of restaurant guests.
- POS: An acronym for point of sale; the system that wait staff uses to place orders and where each sale is recorded. You are welcome to review Avero's list of Supported Systems.
- Push It: To sell a specific item. This can be due to an abundance of inventory or limited shelf life.
- Quality Service Adjustment (QSA): see Comp
- Run: The act of bringing something to a table.
- Runner: The person “running” food to the table.
- Side work: This is no one’s favorite… but it has to happen. This is prep work performed by the FOH staff.
- SOS: An acronym for sauce on the side.
- Sub: To substitute one menu item for another.
Starter: The same thing as an appetizer or entrée.
- Upsell: A technique that servers use to get customers to purchase more expensive menu items.
- Walk-in: Most commonly refers to a walk-in refrigerator. It can also be used to describe a guest or party "Walking in" as opposed to having a reservation
- Walkout: A diner who leaves the restaurant without paying.
- Waxing the Table: A term used to infer giving VIP treatment to a table.
- Well: These are the most inexpensive house liquors.
- Working: Food that’s in the process of being prepared.
Hotel / Casino Terms & Jargon
- Central Reservation System (CRS): A CRS is used by hotel properties to manage room rates and availability. CRS platforms share availability information across distribution channels, adjusting as bookings are made or rates are changed.
Property Management System (PMS): The core operating software of a hotel. This software helps owners and front desk workers manage their businesses from booking to check-in and even back office operations.
Point of Sale (POS): The hospitality software system used by retail or F&B (food & beverage) outlets to manage orders and payments.
- RevPAR: Revenue per available room, or how much revenue is made per available room to let, by dividing total revenue by total available rooms (not including rooms that are out of order or otherwise unavailable)
- RevPASH: Revenue per available seat-hour
Finance Accounting Terms & Jargon
- Accounts Payable: Products or services received by a company but not paid for that are due within a year.
- Accounts Receivable: What the company is owed for providing products and services to customers. Revenues recorded but uncollected. The process of billing and collecting accounts settled after the guest or company has checked out of the hotel.
- Allocations: The portion of an expense charged to a specific hotel for services received in connection with expenses incurred at the corporate level on behalf of all the hotels or restaurants in the company.
Booking Pace: The current rate at which reservations are being received for a specific Day of Arrival (DOA). The booking pace is compared to historical averages to determine if demand is stronger or weaker than historical averages.
Brand: The lodging term that identifies different types of hospitality properties that serve specific hospitality market segments.
Budget: The formal business and financial plan for a business for one year.
Concept: The restaurant term that identifies different types of restaurant operations that provide specific dining experiences and serve specific market segments.
Cost Management Index (CMI): The formula that identifies what level of expenses and profits are expected given incremental changes in revenues. Includes flow thru and retention formulas and guidelines.
- EOD: End-of-Day, refers to the end of the business day, not the calendar day. This may be the time your system processes the sales for the day (referred to as 'EOD Processing') or the end of the working day for deliverables.
- EOM: End-of-Month
- Expense Center: A staff department that supports the hotel operating departments: Sales and Marketing, Engineering, Human Resources and Accounting. It has no revenues or cost of sales, just wages, benefits and direct operating expenses.
- Fiscal Year: The financial year for reporting a company’s financial results. It can be the same or different from the calendar year ending December 31
- Flow Thru: Measures how much profit goes up and down as percentage of change in revenue.
- Forecast: A financial and operational report that updates the budget.
- Full Time Employee (FTE): When an employer has a 40-hour workweek, employees who are scheduled to work 40 hours per week are 1.0 FTEs.
- Market Segment: Customers defined by expectations, preferences, buying patterns, and behavior patterns.
- Market Share: Total room supply, room demand, or room revenues as a percentage of some larger group.
- Operating Department: A hotel department that records revenues and produces a profit by providing products and services to guests.
- Price Fencing: is the practice of setting up rules and restrictions regarding the eligibility of an individual to purchase products and services at a specific price such as happy hour pricing.
- Prime Cost: Prime cost is one of the most important key performance indicators for your restaurant. As a value, your prime cost is the total sum of your labor costs and your cost of goods sold (CoGS), including food and liquor. Prime costs are also known as your direct costs.
- Principal: The euro amount of money that is in an account that is earning interest or dividends and that has the potential to appreciate or increase as well as decrease.
- Profit: The amount of revenues left over after all expenses have been paid.
Profit and Loss (P&L): Measure the operating success and profitability of a business over a specific period of time.
- Profit Center: An operating department that produces revenues that result in a profit by providing products and services to customers. It includes revenues, expenses and profits and is a term that is interchangeable with Revenue Center
Revenue Center: An operating product that produces revenues by providing products and services directly to customers. It includes revenues, expenses, and profits.
- RevPASH: Revenue per available seat-hour
- ROI: Return-of-Investment
- Seat-Hour: Seating hours are the number of available seats multiplied by the number of hours in the chosen time period.
Statement of Cash Flow: Measures the liquidity and identifies the flow of cash in a company
Volume: The part of the revenue equation that provides the quantity of products or services consumed by the guests. Typically, rooms sold or occupied and customer counts are the volume variables used to calculate total room or restaurant revenues. Volume also determines labor hours required for wage forecasting and scheduling.
Working Capital: The amount of money utilized in the daily operations of a business including using the assets and liabilities as well as cash to produce a product or service.
Yield Management: The computer reservation tracking system that combines current reservation booking information with historical reservation booking information. It is used to implement selling strategies that will maximize total hotel room revenue.