Last Updated On December 01, 2020 / Written By Hanh Truong

Front of House vs. Back of House Restaurant Functions

Seamless communication and collaboration between a restaurant's front and back of house will enhance customer experiences and enable operations to flourish.

The roles of a restaurant's front of house and back of house can greatly differ based on the business and its niche. Therefore, effective communication is necessary for all processes to flow smoothly.

By understanding the different operational aspects within an eatery, restaurateurs can increase efficiency and create a positive experience for their diners.

Back of House

The back of house (BOH) refers to areas and employees that customers do not generally see when they visit a restaurant. While the back of house team does not interact with diners, they work behind-the-scenes to ensure guests are satisfied with their meals.

Roles of the BOH

The back of house staff performs key functions to make sure that food is properly handled and cooked before it is served to restaurant guests. Some key roles include-

  • Kitchen Manager
The kitchen manager's main responsibility is managing back of house employees and operations. This includes hiring employees, ensuring food safety standards are met, and assisting kitchen staff.

  • Executive Chef
The executive chef, or head chef, creates the menu, supervises staff, monitors inventory management, and oversees food purchase orders for the restaurant. They also work with both the kitchen and general managers to complete administrative tasks.

  • Sous Chef
The sous chef is next in authority to the executive chef. Their responsibilities include supervising kitchen operations, training new hires, and scheduling employees.

  • Line Cook
Restaurants commonly have multiple line cooks, with each at different stations. Line cooks divide their work based on the food or cooking type they specialize in. For example, there may be a fry cook, pastry chef, and grill cook in a kitchen.

  • Prep Cook
Prep cooks' main function is preparing foods, such as rinsing produce and concocting ingredients for cooking. Like all other kitchen staff, prep cooks must be knowledgeable about food safety protocols to ensure that all food products are monitored and handled appropriately.

  • Dishwasher
Dishwashers are responsible for cleaning tableware and kitchen supplies promptly to increase table turnover rate, which is the number of guests served at a table during a certain period.

Common Locations in the BOH

A restaurant's back of house comprises of different areas, such as the-

  • Kitchen
The kitchen tends to be the largest area in the BOH and is usually divided into stations. For example, a kitchen will have sections for food preparation, cooking lines, and sanitation.

  • Employee Area
Break rooms and employee bathrooms are typically located in the back of house. These spaces are designated for staff members to safely put away their belongings, take their breaks, and have their lunch.

  • Office
Having a separate office area in the BOH allows management to do administrative work without having to interrupt kitchen operations or take up space in dining areas.

Front of House

The front of house (FOH) is where customers will interact with employees, make orders, and dine. The front of house staff is an integral part of the guest experience since they serve as a liaison between customers and kitchen staff.

Roles of the FOH

Common front of house employees that guests will generally interact with are-

  • General Manager
The general manager oversees both the front and back of house. They tend to spend more time in the dining area to ensure that customers are being served and that overall operations are functioning smoothly.

  • Front of House Manager
The FOH manager supervises all staff that works in the front of the house and reports to the general manager if there are any issues. This position entails hiring new staff, scheduling shifts, and managing customer complaints. They are also responsible for recording the restaurant's earnings at the end of the day.

  • Headwaiter
The headwaiter is in charge of the wait staff, hosts, and bussers, making sure that they are all providing quality customer service. Also known as captains, headwaiters also serve tables and report to the FOH manager.

  • Server
Servers have the most interaction with diners, as they answer questions about the menu, take orders, and collect payments. They also work with kitchen staff to ensure that orders are correct.

  • Host/Hostess
The host or hostess is usually at the restaurant's entry, greeting diners as they come and go. They are also in charge of taking reservations, leading customers to their tables, and providing menus to guests.

  • Busser
Bussers help servers by refilling customers' drinks and completing minor requests. After customers leave, bussers will clear dirty dishes from the table and sanitize the area for the next party.

Common Locations in the FOH

Some of the most common front of house locations that customers will experience includes-

  • Entry
This is where restaurant guests will enter and form their first impression of the business. Restaurateurs should consider using decor to capture the theme of the eatery and ensure that the area is always clean and organized.

  • Waiting Area
During busy hours, customers may need to wait for a table to be cleared. Waiting areas should have chairs or benches so that guests can be comfortable. By placing extra menus nearby, they can use their wait time to make decisions on what to order once they get seated.

  • Hostess Station
This is where a host or hostess will greet guests as soon as they enter the restaurant. The hostess station should be placed in a visible area so that incoming customers can be acknowledged quickly.

  • Dining Room
The dining room is where guests and front of house staff will spend most of their time. The layout of this area should be organized with ample space for servers to move freely and customers to easily reach their seats.

  • Outdoor Seating
Some restaurants will offer outdoor seating to increase capacity, boost revenue, and cater to guests who prefer eating outside. Canopies, patio heaters, and lighting are usually added to this area to enhance the customers' outdoor dining experience.

4 Ways to Improve Collaboration with Your FOH and BOH

A restaurant's front and back of house consist of many roles and locations. Therefore, improved communication between all employees will prevent misunderstandings and enhance guest satisfaction.

To provide the best service for customers, restaurant owners should implement practices that promote teamwork between the FOH and BOH, such as-

1. Have Servers Contribute to the Kitchen

Requiring servers to complete minor kitchen tasks, such as preparing bar garnishes, will encourage them to interact with cooks. They will also learn more about the cooking process and can help kitchen staff focus on more important food preparation.

2. Provide Staff Meals

Staff meals can bring the FOH and BOH together, as the kitchen team prepares the food and the servers set the table. This allows all restaurant staff to bond over food and learn about the menu options at their restaurant.

3. Employ an Expeditor

An expeditor manages customer orders, ensuring that everyone at a table is served at the same time. They can also enhance communication between servers and kitchen staff by guaranteeing that both parties are informed of any order changes or requests.

Acting as a liaison, an expeditor will minimize misunderstanding by making sure that servers and kitchen employees are on the same page.

4. Hold Group Training Sessions

Conducting group training will allow staff from the FOH and BOH to understand the different responsibilities they each have. It can also help employees from both sides to see how their counterparts impact guests' dining experience.

By promoting communication and collaboration between the front and back of house, the restaurant business will be able to provide full service and run smoothly and efficiently.