Andrew Dys

26 easy steps to speaking Red's Grill

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So Starbucks has its own lingo.

The Herald ran a story Tuesday in the Lifestyles section called "Speaking Starbucks."

"Don't let it scare, you," the story said.

Scared of what? Peer pressure over goofing up an order in front of a sandal-footed computer geek who at 27 years old lives in his mother's basement?

At Red's at 1101 E. Main St. in Rock Hill, the only computer is the electronics inside the cigarette machine. Even water comes with a side of meat.

Since opening in 1948, Red's has had its own language. Frappucino at Red's is where bootleggers swap hooch at the France/Italy border.

Here's how to speak Red's, courtesy of the staff: Owner Lynn Stewart, and employees Wanda Millstead, Dean Arnold, Gene Hinton, Brian the "backer" who carries the heavy stuff, Georgia Hinton, Sabrina Aaron, Dorothy "Fred" Harden and Pat the Cook.

• Fish in a hole: The call from the back kitchen that the salmon patties are ready.

• Order up! Dual meaning. Order up! from Arnold the cook means the waitress better get the order quick because "I ain't cooking it twice if it gets cold." Order up! from a waitress means quit dawdling over whether to get sausage or bacon and just get both.

• Monkey bowls: The small porcelain bowls that slaw or anything else gets served in. "Gimme a bunch of monkey bowls and hurry up, Gene!" is how poor Gene the longtime dishwasher gets treated.

• Monkey grits: Grits served in a monkey bowl instead of on a plate. OK for single servings, but a sure sign of weakness for high-falutin' breakfast connoisseurs who don't want to mix their grits with eggs and meat. Bad idea if you want respect from regulars named Buckwheat and The Grouch.

• Dollar forty, honey: The cost of a bottomless cup of coffee, with tax. Doesn't matter if it's one cup or 13 cups. Just a "dollar forty, honey," as Wanda the waitress sings it.

• Lazy: Help who doesn't show up for work because of something inexcusable. Like pneumonia, scarlet fever or broken bones. Hangover absences have their own terms.

• White bacon: Fatback.

• Liar's table: Group of five to eight older men who drink coffee every morning that isn't Sunday, Christmas, Thanksgiving or the day the doctor is taking out an organ that doesn't work anymore.

• Tightwad: Stingy tippers. "The other terms are worse, but you can't put them in the newspaper," said Red's Manager Sabrina Aaron.

• Gitchy getters: Kitchen tongs.

• Mill Hill steak: Fried balogna.

• Ding-a-ling: A regular customer from Comporium, the phone company. Phone makes a ding-a-ling sound, Arnold said. "Duh," she added.

• TB: Tall Budweiser. Can, 16 ounces. Oops, that's not supposed to be at breakfast.

• Elvis, to the right: Directions from anywhere in the building to the men's room. Find the huge picture of the King on the west wall, and start walkin'.

• Advice: All talk ignored by everyone who works and eats at Red's. Money, love or anything else gets a deaf ear.

• The eye: What Fred gives to a customer. Silent. Means "Are you ready to have that coffee topped off?" without words.

• Little one: 4-ounce hamburger. For weaklings and supervisors.

• Big one: 6-ounce hamburger. Grownup food.

• Smoke: What almost every employee and most customers do with cigarettes at Red's. Sometimes while eating at the same time.

• Ashtray: One per table. Every table. The only non-smoking section is at other restaurants.

• Frog breakfast: Common order from Wanda the waitress of two eggs, grits, bacon, white toast with butter. Named after a regular nicknamed Frog. Unknown real name.

• Crispy mush: Livermush, fried crispy.

• Doggie patty: Hamburger cooked and chopped and put in bag to take home to the dog. Happens all the time.

• Zero: Number of espressos, cappuccinos or any other 'cinos served at Red's in 58 years. "One lawyer, and I ain't namin' names but his first name is Tom, comes in here sometimes with a Starbucks container," said Dean. "We give him plain coffee. Tell him here's your cappuccino."

• Thanks and come back: What Wanda and Fred and Lynn the owner and everybody who works there tell every customer who shuffles up to the old register to pay the tiny bill.

• Come back: What those customers do, almost every day.

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