Food Truck Industry Terms + Lingo
Tulsa's nonstaurants are growing in numbers, well at least they were before Covid-19. A nonstaurant is a non-traditional restaurant in a non-traditional setting, usually referring to food trucks and carts or any other food provider that doesn’t match the traditional restaurant mode.
1. 2-top, 4-top, etc. Before Covid-19 people would walk up to our truck and order individually, at max a couple would order. A "top" refers to a table in the restaurant with the number indicating how many people are seated at the table. Food trucks, for the most part have small kitchens and the equipment is also smaller, so imagine having 6 top orders come through, repeatedly for an hour. It kind of makes you feel like you are working in an Easy-Bake Oven environment, but just stay cool, you got this! In a sentence: “A 6 top just came through the window and we are already in the weeds.”
2. 86ed When you run out of a certain ingredient in a restaurant, drink, or menu item, it’s 86ed. Usually, the manager or kitchen will alert servers when a menu item is 86ed but on a food truck we just look at each other when the last portion is gone. In a sentence: “We are out of chicken, I told you we needed to prep more.”
3. All day This term refers to the total number of certain dishes the kitchen needs to make at a given time. Knowing that a lot of one item are getting ready to be made allows the brain to shift if it has been doing expanded multitasking. In a sentence: “We have 5 BBQ Spaghetti all day long!”
4. A la carte “A la carte” is a French term that means a menu item is sold by itself. If a burger joint sells burgers and sides a la carte, that means a burger doesn’t come with a side included. In a sentence: “Does the veggie burger come with fries or is it a la carte?”
5. Back of the house The back-of-house staff is the team members who work in the “back” of the restaurant and generally don’t interact with customers. This encompasses people like the dishwasher, chefs, and expo, and areas like the kitchen, freezers, and storage areas. On a food truck we are all front of house and back of house. In a sentence: “Do we need more ketchup put out by the window?" "Yep it's on the shelf above your head.”
6. Campers This Any time a food truck is out they have had a double or tripl e shift, 7 hours to clean the truck from last service, 7 hours to shop for supplies, time is spent creating menus and discussing changes based on food thats available. Then you have prep time and set up, traveling to location and cooking all day. Most anytime you see a food trucker out serving they have already worked at least a double just to serve the food. “Okay Bob, let me get the people behind you right quick!” 7. Corner This is what servers often yell when they’re rounding a corner (usually in or near the kitchen) to alert anyone else who might be walking towards them that they can’t see. This helps avoid any accidents or collisions, especially when people are holding dishes, cups, or plates of food. "Corner, hot" or "Corner, sharp" is an easy way to let someone know you're coming and what happens to be in your hand. Carrying a hot cup of coffee or a knife? Two words can stop a lot of accidents. "Behind" is also a great way to let someone know you are coming through so they don't turn around and stab you. On a food truck we say "coming through." In a sentence: “Coming through”
8. Double shift Any time a food truck is out they have usually had a double or triple shift. 7 hours to clean the truck from last service, 7 hours to shop for supplies, time is spent creating menus and discussing changes based on food that's available. Then they have prep time and set up, traveling to location and cooking all day. Most anytime you see a food trucker out serving they have already worked at least a double just to serve the food. In a sentence: “I’m glad I have tomorrow off — I’ve worked doubles the past 5 days.”
9. Expo Short for “expeditor,” the expo works as a type of middle-person between the kitchen and the dining room. Whether it’s a dedicated worker or the restaurant’s manager, they’re tasked with making sure each dish has any finishing touches it needs and is ready to be taken out to the table. On a food trucker everyone is the expeditor! In a sentence: “The expo said the kitchen needs more cilantro for garnish.”
10. Fire This is a term used by the chef to let others in the kitchen know it’s time to start cooking or prepping a dish, "Fire chicken for table 26." On a food truck, if we say fire, you need to run.
In a sentence: “FIRE!!!”
11. In the weeds When a server is swamped or has a lot of tables to serve, they’re in the weeds. It could stem from being double- or triple-sat, having a large party at one of their tables, or simply having a lot of tables in their section. On a food truck, being in the weeds is when a company lets all of its employees out for lunch at the same time. In a sentence: “Doors just opened we are 70 in the weeds.” 13. On the fly Mistakes happen. Sometimes a server forgets to put an order in, or a steak isn’t cooked to a patron’s preference. In these cases, the kitchen may be asked to cook a new dish “on the fly,” or as soon as humanly possible. Understandably, chefs aren’t big fans of having to whip up dishes on the fly. In a sentence: “I put in table 6’s apps but forgot the jalapeno poppers. I need an order on the fly!”
14. Side work Please see "double shift". In a sentence: “Sidework.”
15. Ticket When an order is keyed into a POS system, it usually prints out a ticket that the chef or server uses to alert the kitchen that an order needs to be made. It includes what time the order was put in, as well as any substitutions or modifications that a guest requests. Putting a ticket with an order helps the expo check to make sure the dish matches the order before it goes out. Food trucks use tickets and they have tickets coming in from online orders, texting and call-ins all going to the same people. In a sentence: “We are 10 tickets and 10- 5 tops deep.”