In the front of the kitchen at Mani’s there is a special whiteboard. (And yes, I’m going to let everyone in on behind the scenes Mani’s info here…) This whiteboard is known as the ‘86’d board.’ Being that Mani’s is my first restaurant experience I had no idea what that meant. If this is old news to some, I urge you to read on and offer up your knowledge. For everyone else, let me enlighten you. (I’m a theatre student, so this conversation will be brought to you in theatrical playwright format)
Dan: Hey! Can I get some of that amazingly fresh and savory jalapeño cheese bread, Jose?
Jose: Jalapeño cheese is 86’d.
Dan: That’s cool, but can I get some?
Jose: No. It’s out.
So, the term means that an item is temporarily out of stock. Good to know. But why 86’d? Where does that come from? Why not 0’d? Well, I looked it up and this is what I found:
The term 86’d goes back to the first American restaurant Delmonicos. It refers to the ribeye steak that was sold there. It was item 86 on their menu and was sold out one night, hence the term 86’d.
The reason is because of the old specs used to bury the average person——the hole is “6” feet deep, and is “8” feet long. Hence, being called “86d” was not a good thing…but a “gone” thing…
One explanation of the term is, that in olden days 86 portions where prepared, when the last item was sold the chef would yell “86 the prime rib”!
Chumley’s, a historic speakeasy located at 86 Bedford in New York City, is where this term has its origin. This speakeasy was owned by Leland Chumley and served as a legitimate printing office during prohibition times. It has two entrances: one on Bedford and another off the courtyard of the adjacent street. During prohibition, when the police were about to raid the speakeasy thru the courtyard, the bartender would yell “out 86”, referring to the 86 Bedford address. Patrons would exit thru the Bedford street door to avoid arrest.
So, there are a few of the many absolutely correct explanations. Anyone else know another for sure historic account of the term. Please let us know!
Wow, Dan the research guy. Thanks for the history. Go Dan!Comment by Steph on 1/18 at 3:19 pm
I loved this history lesson. Thanks for the info.Comment by Denise Wakeman on 1/19 at 3:18 pm
<center>Amazing. I have been working in restaurants for 5+ years and always used the phrase never wondering where it came from. Thanks Dan!Comment by Juan Ponciano on 1/20 at 3:18 pm
This is from The Word Detective at http://word-detective.com
“What we do know is that “86” first appeared as “kitchen slang” meaning “out of that item” in the 1930’s, and fairly quickly came to mean “stop serving that customer” as well. Eventually, “86” spread to general usage, where it came to mean simply “dismiss” or “quash” (“The boss 86’ed my proposal for beer in the lunchroom”).
The theory with the most logic behind it is that “86” began as rhyming slang code of the sort found in London’s Cockney underworld of the 19th century. As “trouble and strife” meant “wife” in rhyming slang, “86” may have stood for “nix”—“nix” meaning “nothing” or “to dismiss.” How “86” then ended up in U.S. restaurants is a bit of a puzzle, but I’m afraid it’s the best theory anyone has come up with so far.”Comment by Kristen (a word geek) on 1/30 at 9:51 pm