Successful restaurants have many different moving parts all which aid one another in delivering the best possible food experience to their patrons. Knowing the differences between the front of the house and the back of the house will help restaurateurs and management improve efficiency and keep the business working like a well oiled machine.
The Front Of The House (FOH)
This is what restaurant goers will see and experience first upon entering any restaurant. The front of the building/site, entrance and lobby, maitre’d station, seating and tables, outdoor seating, as well as the bar area, all make up parts of the front of the house. Being sure that your front is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and also efficient in seating people and confirming reservations or party size are important. Employees who work the front of the house are to be friendly, smiling, helpful, clean, and prepared for their duties as they are the first people that patrons will engage with.
Front End Positions
Hosts & Hostesses
They are the face of the restaurant that all diners will see first. Answering phones, making reservations, greeting & seating, providing menus, and sometimes running bills when diners are finished, are just a part of this job description.
Bartender and Bar-Backs
Bartenders and their assistant bar-backs should be friendly and knowledgeable. Providing details about the various beers and wines available, signature drinks, or classic cocktails; a skilled bartender will keep people happy and free to relax. Many diners prefer to sit and eat at the bar, wait for their tables at the bar, or those folks just looking to grab a beer or cocktail without eating and will be the responsibility of the bartender. Breaking change, adjusting TV channels and volume, as well as providing drink recommendations are just some of the duties behind the bar.
Front of House Manager/General Manager
This position is one of the most important to keeping a restaurant working smoothly. Managing personnel, organizing events, asking diners how their meal was, are just a few things that restaurant managers can do. Experience can be vital in managing all the different needs of restaurants and their employees, having a well trained and disciplined general managers is a must.
This position should be filled by enthusiastic, friendly, and knowledgeable individuals. Taking orders, bringing drinks & food, checking in to see if everything is cooked to the diners liking or specifications, asking if their are any food allergies, and providing general information about the dishes is part of the wait staffs job description. Depending on the restaurant, name tags, uniforms or specified clothing may be worn.
Other FOH positions may include: Sommelier (providing wine information/recommendations), Bussers, Food Runner, and delivery personnel.
The Back of the House (BOH)
This portion of a restaurant will include a few very important areas which are not typically seen by diners. These would include of course the kitchen (ovens, grills, dish-washing, fryers, freezers, etc.), employee break area, management/owner offices, storage (food storage or other), and sometimes a laundry area. Making sure your kitchen is laid out to improve efficiency and help chefs & servers create and deliver food is a must. There is nothing worse to a cook than a cramped space that is not planned well requiring many extra movements or wasted time to prepare and cook meals.
Back End Positions
Executive Chef/Head Chef
This is the most experienced member of the kitchen staff. Often designing menus, creating food/alcohol pairings, organizing the other chefs, checking food inventory, and more.
Sous Chef and Line Cooks
Sous chefs are the number 2 in the kitchen and look after other kitchen staff, train new kitchen staff, create schedules and take command when the head chef is out or away. Line cooks are typically divided into cooking areas such as seafood, grill, salad, prep, pastry, and so on.
As the job title illustrates dishwashers are responsible for making sure dishes, utensils, pots & pans are cleaned quickly and efficiently. Also, cleaning the kitchen it is closed may be part of the job description.
Other positions include Kitchen managers (managing the back of house staff, giving hours, etc) and Expeditor’s (organize orders by table making sure everyone gets their food at the same time).
The importance of the Front and Back Of House working together cannot be understated. Think of it as a bicycle with two wheels. Though they move independently it is the pedals and gears which allow the bike to move forwards together, this analogy illustrates that for a restaurant to be successful, the front and back of house must work well together.
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