What are the front of house positions in restaurants?

The front-of-house (FOH) team is the heart and soul of a restaurant, at least from the diner’s perspective. They make it all work and play a fundamental role in the guest experience. Whether you’re looking for a position in the industry or are thinking of opening a restaurant, you’ll want to know all about FOH. So let’s break down who does what and why their role is so important to a successful restaurant operation.

Front of house meaning

The “front of house” refers to all areas in a restaurant where diners experience the service, including the dining room, bar and waiting area. It’s the staff who directly interact with diners and provide guests with a memorable experience.

Front of house roles

General Manager

Role description

The General Manager (GM) is the backbone of a restaurant. Without them, it’s almost impossible to have a smooth operation from front to back. They oversee both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) teams, guaranteeing that every aspect of the restaurant functions harmoniously. Their responsibilities are vast, ranging from financial management and staff training to customer service and quality control. With a bird’s-eye view of the restaurant, general managers are adept at identifying areas for improvement and implementing strategies to enhance efficiency and profitability.

Why they matter

The success of a restaurant often hinges on the capabilities of its GM. They play a pivotal role in shaping the restaurant’s culture, ensuring that staff are motivated, well-trained and aligned with the restaurant’s values and goals. By fostering a positive work environment and consistently delivering exceptional dining experiences, the General Manager certifies the restaurant’s position as a favoured choice among diners.

Host or Hostess

Role description

The host or hostess is often the very first person a guest encounters when they step into a restaurant. The person fulfilling this role is the welcoming face, offering warm greetings and making sure guests are attended to promptly. Their responsibilities don’t just stop at a friendly hello – they manage reservations, organise seating arrangements to optimise the flow of the dining area and often juggle waiting lists during peak times. Their role is central to a smooth restaurant operation, especially when it’s bustling with diners.

Why they matter

First impressions count, particularly in the world of dining. The initial interaction with the host or hostess sets the tone for the entire dining experience. A warm and efficient welcome puts guests at ease and makes them feel valued. On the other hand, a disorganised or indifferent reception can start the meal off on the wrong foot. The host or hostess plays a crucial role in certifying the guests’ experiences so it gets off on the right foot.

Server

Role description

Servers orchestrate the dining experience. From the moment a guest is seated, they become the main point of contact and guide diners through the menu, answering any queries about dishes. Servers also take note of any dietary preferences or restrictions. But their responsibilities involve more than just taking orders and serving food. They keep everything ticking over, be it making sure drinks are refilled, additional requests are met promptly, and diners are generally having a pleasant time.

Why they matter

A meal at a restaurant is so much more than the food. It’s about providing a service, and a skilled server understands this intrinsically. Their responsibility goes beyond serving dishes. Through attentive service, a keen understanding of the menu and a genuine interest in making diners feel at home, they transform a simple meal into a memorable event. Their ability to anticipate needs, engage in friendly conversation or handle any hiccups with grace and professionalism makes all the difference in turning a one-time visitor into a regular guest.

Bartender

Role description

At first glance, a bartender’s role might seem straightforward: mixing and pouring drinks. Delve a little deeper, however, and you’ll find a set of responsibilities and skills that stretch far beyond the bar counter. A great bartender possesses a vast knowledge of spirits and mixers. But most importantly, they understand the art of concocting the perfect cocktail. Bartenders are also adept at juggling multiple orders, all while keeping an eye on the bar’s atmosphere and staying on top of who wants what.

Why they matter

Whether diners are waiting at the bar before taking a seat or simply want to have a quick drink, a skilled bartender sets the mood. Their ability to connect, entertain and create a welcoming environment transforms a simple bar section into a cherished escape for many.

Busser

Role description

Bussers guarantee that tables are promptly cleaned, reset and prepared for the next guests after the initial diners leave. Their quick actions and attention to detail leave no corner unturned, whether it’s cutlery, glassware, or napkins being perfectly placed, ready for the next dining experience.

Why they matter

The efficiency of a busser sets the tone for the pace of a restaurant. They safeguard the dining flow, so guests aren’t left waiting for a clean spot. A busser’s behind-the-scenes efforts validate their position as unsung heroes, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted dining experience for all.

Sommelier

Role description

Sommeliers are experts who act as the custodians of a restaurant’s wine collection. With an extensive knowledge of vineyards, vintages and varietals, they guarantee that guests are presented with the best options. Sure, their role involves suggesting a popular wine, but sommeliers also get a feel for the diner’s palate and preferences for a bottle of red or white. They guide them through an often extensive wine list.

Why they matter

The magic of a sommelier lies in their ability to elevate a meal. They offer pairing suggestions that complement each dish, so every bite is the perfect blend of flavours. With their expertise, a simple dinner transforms into a memorable gastronomic journey, making certain that each glass enhances the dining experience.

The evolving roles in modern dining

With modern trends and technology, traditional FOH roles are getting a makeover. From digital ordering tools to interactive dining experiences, the FOH team has adapted over the years, evolving to ensure they’re always at the top of their game.

Platforms like OpenTable make the lives of FOH staff that much easier thanks to a range of features, including seamless reservation management, personalised guest insights, POS system integration and much more. It’s a comprehensive companion for all FOH staff.

Front-facing heroes

From the moment a diner steps into the restaurant until the time they leave, the front-of-house team works tirelessly so everyone has a memorable experience. The FOH team are the face of the dining world, working hard to make sure that diners have the best dining experience possible.

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