Kenneth Setzer ksetzer at ENG.FIU.EDU
Wed Jun 23 13:20:53 UTC 1999

I was told "86" originated in the bar on Bedford St. in Manhattan called
"Chumley's." It's still there and was supposedly a speakeasy back in the
day. The story goes that the front exit (number 86 Bedford, originally
the back door) was used as an emergency exit during raids due to
prohibition. There is still what is now a side entrance (originally the
front?) thru a courtyard, but supposedly to "86 it" meant to run out the
back door (now the front) from the police.

Since the establishment itself made this claim, I have my doubts about
it. It would be too cool and too easy to explain it this way, but it's a
good story anyway!

Prof. Roly Sussex wrote:

> I am having trouble locating an explanation of the phrase "86",
> meaning something like "to refuse a customer service" or possibly
> "to eject a customer". Friends have heard it in "MASH"; I believe
> it may be part of American restaurant-speak where there are
> various codes used by waiting-persons for different dishes.
> Can anyone help?
> Many thanks
> Roly Sussex
> The University of Queensland
> Australia
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