From the time I started as a dishwasher back in high school I knew there was something special about working in the restaurant business. Maybe it was the easy money, maybe it was the adrenaline of a rush, maybe it was the smorgasbord of personalities or maybe it was just the lunacy of it all. Whatever the reason was, I fell in love with the industry immediately; fast-forward to nearly a decade later, and I still have a special place in my heart for this industry. And I wanted to bring that passion I have for our line of work to a new medium. I wanted to bring my love for food, service and all the movers and the shakers in this industry and give them a place — no a voice — for our profession.
The 86’d Life focuses on the joys and the hardships of working in the service industry. For those involved in the profession, they sometimes find themselves isolated from the rest of their friends and families.
The term 86’d is one of the oldest industry terms to date. The actual orgins of the term vary depending on whom you talk to. Some say it’s from the Prohibition Era where police would inform the bartenders at Chumley’s in New York City they were about to raid the joint — the term 86 was the cue where patrons would exit via the 86 Bedford Street door. Others say it was slang for ‘nix’ which is its more modern day use for kitchens. Today when something is 86’d it means the restaurant is sold out of that particular product.
Thus why I’ve decided to use the term for this industry-friendly platform. The service industry creates a unique and demanding work environment characterized by all the hard-working men and women contributing countless hours maintaining a very high standard for themselves, their customers, and their restaurants. It often leaves many of us feeling depleted. Yet, the adrenaline that comes with working in this industry – whether it be from the dinner rush, the unity at a restaurant, the late nights or even the money – is something that keeps us all coming back.
The 86’d Life wants to share that standard and our various personalities with not just fellow chefs, bartenders, and servers, but the rest of the normal world. The 86’d Life’s goal is to share Front-of-House (FOH) and Back-of-House (BOH) stories, confessions, successes, and failures that have helped create the wonderful, dynamic culture that is the service industry.
Neil Strebig is the creator of The 86’d Life. He has spent most his service industry career as a chef working at St. James Gate Pub & Carvery, Emeril’s Chophouse at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA, and later at Longue Vue and Allegheny Country Clubs in Pittsburgh, PA. He is currently a freelance journalist in Pittsburgh who still works part-time in the industry as a server.