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EIGHTY SIX (86)

 

For those not familiar with the expression, to ‘eighty-six’ something in a restaurant is to indicate you are out of that item.
There are many stories of the origin of this expression. Here are a few of them. #1 and #2 seem more likely to me, but who knows!

1) Chumley's, a bar in Greenwich Village, which during speakeasy days through unruly customers out the back door, which is number 86 Bedford Street - they were '86'd.'

2) Same bar, Chumley's same time period - the front door address was 86 Worth Street and there was a chalk board inside the front door with the address painted across the top - the chalkboard was were items that had been sold out were posted - it soon became known as the '86' board.

3) Same time period, maybe the same bar, when a new customer (not a regular) came into the speakeasy, the bartender would '86' them - serve them 86 proof booze instead of the 100 or higher proof stuff reserved for the regulars.

4) Similar to #3: drunks were given 86 proof booze instead of higher proof stuff they had been drinking.

5) Same city, different restaurant - Delmonico's at the turn of the century had a menu with more than 100 items. They always seemed to be out of #86, and it became an expression used by the service staff  meaning to be out of something - 86'd.

6) Same city (New York) The old Manhattan subway route ended at 86th Street. That's it, all out, can't go further, everybody out. You were 86'd.

7) A grave is 8 feet long, 6 feet deep. 86'd.

8) French soldiers in WW I were issued 85 bullets - 86 and that's it!

 

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