Front of House vs. Back of House

If you’ve ever started a hotel or restaurant business – or even worked in one – you know that there’s often a disconnect between front of house and back of house positions. This disconnect is often greater when theres a restaurant within hotel operations.

Just last week I called a hotel nearby to make a reservation in the dining room at their restaurant. My family didnt believe me when I told them that the front desk agent didnt know the hotel didnt even had a restaurant (and this was a fine dining establishment).

This is an extreme example obviously, but the disconnect between front of house and back of house is very real. The first step to solving these kinds of problems is to clearly define roles and responsibilities. From there we can identify overlap and pass-offs then develop strategies to smooth out even the most complex of operations.

The back of house is the staff area, where cooks and other support staff work. The front of house is the area where diners sit. Different types of staff work in each area, and rivalries sometimes crop up between back of house and front of house staffers, especially in large restaurants which can get extremely busy.

Front and back of house

What is the back of house?

The back of house (BOH) is the area of a hotel or restaurant and the staff members that guests or customers do not interact with on a daily basis. Instead, these are the individuals who ensure the fundamental operations of a hotel or restaurant run smoothly and typically work away from guests and public-facing areas.

What is the front of house?

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, front of house (FOH) is the areas of a hotel or restaurant and the staff members who guests or customers interact with daily. Often, the front of house staff focuses on customer care and satisfaction.

Positions in the front of house

There are several positions that fall into the front of house category, including:

Positions in the back of house

There are several positions that fall into the back of house category, including:

How to improve front of house/back of house functionality

There are several factors that determine how well the front of house staff and back of house staff work together as a team. When these two units work cohesively, the result can be a productive staff, satisfied guests and increased profits.

Below are a few simple steps to improve front of house/back of house functionality:

1. Use a tip pool

Consider implementing a tip pool or tip sharing system to encourage a sense of teamwork between the front and back of house. Traditionally, FOH employees may keep 100% of their tips after each shift. Often, there is a large disparity between FOH and BOH earnings, since BOH employees typically only receive an hourly wage and no tips. In a tip pool or sharing system, each servers tips are divided among members of the front and back of house. Distributing gratuities across both teams motivates staff to work together to maximize their earnings by providing excellent service, food and drink.

2. Improve communication

The goals of the FOH and BOH are usually very similar and include providing an excellent guest experience. However, because of the differences between the daily operations of these two teams, it may be challenging for them to communicate with each other. Improving communication can help FOH and BOH members more effectively reach their goals. There are a few basic elements that may improve communication between front and back of house staff, such as:

3. Foster a sense of unity

Often, there can be a sense of separation between the front and back of house, due to their physical locations within a hotel or restaurant and the differences between their daily tasks. Reminding the members of both teams that while they perform different duties, they are all striving toward the same goal can foster a powerful sense of unity and motivate them to think of themselves as a single unit. Working as a team can improve efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, gratuity and profit.

4. Consider cross-training

Cross-training is a common tactic that restaurant and hotel managers use to help front and back of house better understand what its like to work in each others places. This technique can help members of each staff get firsthand experience on the other team, providing insight about the requirements, challenges and needs of those roles. This may help them interact more productively with each other and develop an understanding of how to be of better assistance to one another.

5. Offer a staff meal

Eating a meal together offers front and back of house members an opportunity to relax and get to know each other outside of the professional atmosphere of a busy shift. Often, kitchen staff prepares the food and FOH staff prepares and serves the beverages, or a hotel may sponsor a weekly staff meal. Everyone has the chance to contribute to the meal and enjoy the time spent together, which can develop friendships and connections between the front and back of house.

FAQ

Is front of house or back of house harder?

You may have also heard the terms “front of house” and “back of house” when talking about the restaurant industry or food and beverage department. In F&B, front of house also includes the guest-facing roles, like servers and hosts, while back of house includes cooks and stewards.

What is considered front of house?

That settles it; it is inherently tougher to be working in the back-of-house than servicing in the front-of-house (3-1 in favor of the BOH if you were keeping score). BOH has fewer designated positions, but those positions require more daily attention and within that sense the positions demand more skill.

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