What does 86d mean in restaurant industry slang?

Aisling Irving
Author Aisling Irving
Industry staff 86

“Chicken is 86d”.

If you’re new to the restaurant industry, this sounds like gibberish. But it’s something you might hear as a restaurant worker.

The restaurant industry is full of its own unique lingo, and if you're new to the business, it can be tough to keep up. One term that you may have heard thrown around is 86d. But what exactly does it mean?

What does 86d mean in restaurant slang?

In simple terms, 86d is a term that is used in the restaurant industry to indicate that an item is out of stock or unavailable.

The origin of the use of the number 86 to indicate that something is out of stock or unavailable in the restaurant industry is not entirely clear. There are several theories about where it came from.

However, one popular explanation is that it originated from a popular New York City speakeasy in the 1930s called Chumley's.

According to one legend, the restaurant was located at 86 Bedford Street, and if the police were doing a raid, the staff would shout "86" as a warning to the patrons to exit through the back door quickly.

Over time, 86 became a code word among the staff to indicate that they were out of a certain dish. And since the word got out that 86 meant something was out of stock, it started to be used more widely in other restaurants.

Another explanation is that it is said to come from a numerical code used in the kitchen, where 86 is the last two digits of the code for "item not available".

Regardless of the true origin, the use of 86 or 86d has become a widely recognised term in the restaurant industry, and is used to indicate that something is out of stock or unavailable.

Fast food fryers 86

Why is it important to know the lingo?

Knowing the term 86 and 86d can help kitchen and front-of-house staff communicate more efficiently during service. If a server tries to take an order for a dish that's no longer available, the kitchen can simply say 86 to let the server know that the dish is no longer an option. This is a quick and simple way to communicate without having to use more formal language.

On the other hand, it's also important for restaurant owners and managers to understand the term, so they can anticipate when certain items may run out and plan accordingly. One of the keys to success in the restaurant industry is being able to adapt to changing conditions on the fly.

Running out of a particular item can be a setback, but being able to quickly and efficiently communicate that information to your staff and your customers can help mitigate any negative effects.

Qsr counter 86

It's also important to note that 86d doesn't just apply to food items. It can also refer to drinks, equipment or even staff. For example, if a server calls in sick, the restaurant might be 86d on servers for the night. In this case, the manager may need to step in and cover the shift to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Minimise the chance of getting 86d at your restaurant

86d is a shorthand which means something is out of stock. Being able to understand and use restaurant industry lingo like this can help you navigate the fast-paced and ever-changing world of restaurants.

Communication is key, and understanding common terms like 86 and 86d can help everyone work together more efficiently and effectively to provide the best service possible to customers.

To make sure your restaurant is never 86d on its staff or ingredients, get yourself a restaurant management system that takes care of staff scheduling and inventory management based on demand.

Interested? Get in touch for a quote today

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