15 Common Terms that Every Hospitality Industry Worker Should Know

January 22, 2021
min read

You’ve landed the job, you’re in the door and now you want to demonstrate you’re a good hire.  To stand out in the crowd of nearly 17M hospitality industry workers, you’ll want to make sure you have the right terminology to talk the talk as you walk the walk on your hospitality career path.   Following are some must-know terms for hospitality industry workers to know:

86’d / eighty-sixed

Done.  Finito. No mas.  If something is 86’d it means that the restaurant or bar is out of stock.  Example: You may hear mid-shift that the chicken parm is eighty-sixed.  This is important information so you can let guests know if any items are unavailable.   

BOH / Back of house

The back of house is the area of the restaurant or hotel (or other business) that guests typically do not see.  It includes places like the kitchen, stock room, and offices.  The back of house team in a restaurant is comprised of chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers.



Conventions and events that are so large they take over much of if not all, a city are known as citywides.  When there is a citywide convention, typically the convention’s main features are at a large, central venue, hotel rooms are well-occupied by attendees and smaller venues often experience demand for smaller events and gatherings.  Local businesses, especially restaurants, experience higher volume during these times.  Citywide conventions are large revenue drivers for the cities in which they are hosted.  

Close out

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t keep your checks open.  To close out is to make sure every open check from your shift is resolved so you can run your end of shift report.  That means finalizing credit card purchases and aligning cash receipts with monies due.  


The term “comp” is short for “complimentary.” A comp refers to a free of charge item offered to a guest.  This can be provided as a surprise and delight or, in some cases, as a make-good for a less than positive experience.  For example, “Let’s comp a round of drinks for this VIP” means the group of people with the designated person will each receive a free beverage.  


Quite simply, covers refers to the number of people in a venue, or the number of meals purchased, or the number of tickets bought to gain access into a venue.  It’s a metric for financial forecasting and goal setting. 


No extinguishers needed here!  The term “fire” refers to getting a course or particular menu item cooking.  You might hear the expeditor say this as they manage the flow of a larger restaurant, or a server may themselves be responsible for requesting the line chefs to fire a specific item (ex: “Fire dessert for table three.”).  “Refire” means to remake something quickly. 

FOH / Front of house

The front of house refers to the part of the restaurant, hotel, or other business that is guest-facing.  In a restaurant, this includes the dining room itself and special events spaces.  Front of house staff includes managers, servers or waitstaff, and bartenders.  


MICROS is a point of sales (POS) system, essentially the technology used to place orders and take payment from guests.  It is a vital part of a smooth operation and is in constant use for FOH restaurant employees.  While MICROS itself is a brand, it is widely used to encompass POS technology within hospitality (hotels, casinos, cruises, and restaurants, to name a few).  Aloha and Alaska are other legacy POS brands and Square, Breadcrumb and Toast are newer, Cloud-based systems.   


MOD is the acronym for Manager on Duty.  This can be any manager, including more senior leaders such as F&B Directors of General Managers.  They are your go-to if a problem arises and will help the flow of the shift.  


RevPar is the abbreviation for Revenue Per Available Room, a hotel term related to the amount of money a room can make.  This includes not just the money made in the room itself, but in other ways throughout the property (think: restaurant, bar or minibar purchases).  


Think of this as your side hustle during your shift.  Sidework consists of the tasks needed to keep operations running, such as cleaning, updating, and wiping down menus,  refilling condiments including salt, pepper and ketchup, or stocking up on backup products like salad dressings, to-go containers, and napkins.  


A site is a tour or inspection of a venue.  You may hear it most commonly used in relation to catering and events.  It refers to when a potential host visits either in person or virtually to get a sense if a particular space is suitable for their event.  


This restaurant term isn’t about kindergarten-level sharing, but rather about seating.  In restaurants, a “turn” refers to how many times new groups are sat at a particular table.  Turning a table means you have brought one group of diners through their entire guest experience and have a new group coming.  The number of turns a table has in a shift is determined by the style of dining (ie high end or casual), size of the restaurant, kitchen capabilities, and revenue expectations.  


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