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If you’re a restaurant manager, you know that the restaurant business comes with its own terminology.  Keeping up with restaurant lingo (in both front of house and back of house) makes communication smoother among your staff, which makes your restaurant run more efficiently.

Spend just 10 minutes in your restaurant, and you’ll likely hear phrases like:

Chicken parm is 86ed!

We’re in the weeds!

It may sound like a foreign language to guests, but not to a seasoned professional.

While it may take a while for newbies to the restaurant trade to become acclimated to industry slang, there are two terms all restaurant workers absolutely must know from Day 1: front of house and back of house. Both refer to two critical components that make up the whole of the restaurant, and both need their own individual attention.

Front of House 101

The front of house is, as you might have guessed, the front of the restaurant. It’s where patrons dine or are greeted at the front door. Also included in the front of house are the hostess station, bar, restrooms, and outdoor seating, if you have it.

The staff that works the front of house includes:

  • Host/hostess
  • Wait staff
  • Bartenders
  • Front of house manager (sometimes this role is one that also oversees the back)
  • Sommelier
  • Food runner
  • Barback
  • Busser

Things to Keep in Mind About Front of House

Front of house is the stage for your guests. It’s imperative that it be clean and inviting. When you are first building your restaurant, ample attention should be devoted to restaurant design to ensure a positive guest experience. That means you need to use materials to absorb sound (otherwise diners are overwhelmed by the cacophony of voices), place tables away from air vents that will make guests cold, and decorate in an appealing style.

All front of house staff should be professional and courteous. Hire only outgoing, friendly people! Consider requiring uniforms for wait staff, or simply a dress code to provide consistency in their appearance.

Back of House 101

Behind the dining room, out of site, is where the magic happens: the kitchen. This is command central. Other parts of back of house include the manager’s office, pantry and refrigerators, and break room.

Back of house positions include:

  • Chef
  • Sous chef
  • Kitchen manager
  • Line Cooks
  • Exp-editor
  • Dishwasher

Things to Keep in Mind About Back of House

A well-oiled kitchen keeps orders churning out in a timely manner, so communication is key. Arguments can break out in the heat of the moment, so as the manager, make sure to intervene before situations escalate.

Stay on top of logistics, too. Conducting regular inventory ensures that kitchen staff always has the ingredients they need to prepare orders. It’s your role as manager to oversee what’s happening in the kitchen and constantly communicate with the head chef to ensure he has what he needs to succeed.

Bridging the Gap Between Front of House and Back of House

Because front and back of house are like two different worlds, they often clash in terms of achieving their goals. Wait staff wants an order ready to go yesterday, while kitchen staff is focused on ensuring that every dish is perfection, even if that takes time.

Hold staff meetings with both sides to improve communication and make sure one party knows what the other is working on. Waiters can better up-sell new dishes if they hear from the chef how they’re made (and taste them).

Having a staff meal can also foster a sense of community and build friendships between the two groups.

While both back of house and front of the house have different focuses during a busy shift, everyone is working together to ensure that customers have the best dining experience possible.

Want to learn more about improving communication in your restaurant?  Request a demo of MarketMan and see how restaurant inventory management software can help bridge the communication gap between your front of house and back of house teams.  And be sure to download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Lowering Food Cost in Your Restaurant, full of tips to help you boost your bottom line.

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