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Where Did the Term 86 Come From Restaurant?

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Lauren Beck

If you have ever dined at a restaurant and overheard the term “86” being used, you may have questioned its origins. The term is believed to have originated in New York City in the 1930s, specifically in restaurants located on 86th Street in Manhattan. Different restaurants had various methods of communication and in one restaurant, chefs and waiters would call out “86!” to the kitchen to indicate an item was no longer available. This term quickly became a universal phrase for any out-of-stock items. Over time, it became widely used in the restaurant industry and is now a commonly heard phrase. So, next time you encounter someone shouting “86!” at a restaurant, you’ll know its history.

What Does 86 Mean in a Restaurant?

Essentially, if someone says “86” at a restaurant, that means that an item is out of stock or unavailable. This could be due to any number of factors, such as running out of ingredients or lack of availability from suppliers. In many cases, it’s also used to indicate that an item or dish has been taken off the menu. The term is also commonly used by staff members when they don’t want to serve a particular patron, typically because of their behavior or attitude.

So if you hear someone say “86!” at a restaurant, now you know what it means—an item is out of stock or unavailable! While the exact origin of this phrase has been lost to time, you can rest assured that it’s been around for decades and is still commonly used by restaurants today.

Common Items That Get 86’d

Here are some of the most common items that get 86’d in restaurants:

  • Steak dishes
  • Seafood dishes
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Appetizers

At the end of the day, “86” is just a catchall term for any item that is out of stock or unavailable. So if you hear someone say “86” at a restaurant, now you know where it comes from and what it means! And if you’re ever in the restaurant industry yourself, remember to stay on top of your inventory levels so that all items remain available to customers. With this knowledge, 86ing items can be a thing of the past.

What to Do When an Item Is 86’d?

If an item is “86’d” at a restaurant, there are still plenty of options available. First and foremost, you should ask your server if there are any substitutions that can be made for the unavailable item. In many cases, restaurants will offer similar items or ingredients as substitutions, so don’t be afraid to ask. Additionally, you may be able to find a replacement on the menu that fits your needs. If all else fails, you can always try another restaurant!

How to Prevent Having to 86 Menu Items?

server bringing food order to customers table

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, it’s important to ensure that your kitchen staff has access to the ingredients and other materials they need. This means staying up to date with inventory levels and ordering new supplies before items run out. Additionally, having good communication between the kitchen staff and front-of-house employees is key to avoiding any 86ing of items. By ensuring that everyone is on the same page, you can avoid running out of menu items and having to 86 them altogether.

Other Restaurant Lingo

The restaurant industry has many unique terms and phrases that are used to communicate between staff members [1]. Some other common words and phrases include “86”, “on the fly”, and “expedite”. Knowing these terms can help ensure you stay on top of all orders and have a successful shift!


So there you have it: where did the term 86 come from restaurant? As you can see, it has been around for decades and is still used today. It’s important to understand what this phrase means and how to prevent having to use it in your own restaurant. That way, you can ensure that all of your menu items are available and that your customers have an enjoyable experience. Now that you know where the term 86 come from, get out there and put it to use!


Lauren Beck
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