A restaurant operation is not as easy as it seems. Even for dining places with fewer table covers, the lack of coordination among the wait staff, cooks and management will mean poor customer service. Orders may take too long; the wrong dishes may be sent to some tables or dietary restrictions that weren’t conveyed to the kitchen may make the restaurant liable for a customer’s medical emergency.
Most of the problems in a restaurant operation are visible to the diners in the front of the house, or FOH. An understanding of the FOH meaning could help you become a better manager or restaurateur. And in doing so, improve revenue and profits for your restaurant.
What Does FOH Mean?
The term FOH, or front of the house refers to any space in your restaurant that’s accessible to your diners. These places will include:
- Dining room
- Dining room bar
- Waiting area
- Cocktail area
- Coat check
The front of the house essentially covers all the public places for customers. Some restaurants not only have a main dining room, but they also feature private spaces for diners. These rooms add revenue to the business since customers can book them for larger parties; companies could reserve them for small events.
The front of house section of your restaurant is just one part of your operations. The other part being the back of the house or the BOH.
What is BOH?
The back of the house is the part that most restaurants keep “hidden” from the diners: the kitchen. Although some of the more modern restaurants have incorporated open kitchens to the overall look and style of the kitchen.
These open kitchens also serve as a live attraction, giving diners an opportunity to see the chef and cooks in action.
The BOH also features the offices where the manager does all the administrative work, likely hiring of the staff or any other human resources concern. The back of the house also “houses” the storage room for supplies, the walk-in freezers and the pantries.
So the BOH is responsible for creating and maintaining the products of the restaurant.
When the FOH doesn’t communicate well with the BOH, operations become chaotic. Customer service is affected. And sales may take a dive, along with the business’s reputation in the restaurant industry.
What Makes a Good FOH Manager?
Both parts of the restaurant have a designated manager. The back of the house has the BOH manager and the front of house has the FOH manager. What does it to take to be an effective front of the house manager?
For starters, they would have to possess key skills in:
- Customer service
And as indicated previously, communication skills are crucial to every front of house manager. They must have the ability to listen as well as convey the message. They must learn to pay attention to staff and customer concerns, and they need to be sincerely interested in solving problems.
Then they must learn how to talk to different types of people, communicating what must be done efficiently and properly. encouraging an open-door policy for the staff and establishing morale. In short, this restaurant manager must be a people person, and not just a professional trained to run a food business.
How Do I Train My FOH Staff?
The FOH manager must wear multiple hats. One of those hats is the training manager.
The manager must communicate to the staff the restaurant’s reason for being. What are the goals and mission of the business? What is the history and culture of the restaurant? New wait staff, bussers, bartenders, hosts, bar managers and shift managers all must be on-boarded adequately. Some restaurants also hire banquet managers and sommeliers.
Once on-boarded, further training in how the restaurant runs. This would mean putting your FOH staff through roundtrip foot drills, taking your FOH staff from the kitchen through the dining space. All the while they are carrying trays and plates of food. Aside from these foot drills, your FOH staff must also know the menu, drinks list and specials by memory.
Learning about the technologies your restaurant use is also essential, from the POS to guest management programs.
Server training programs must cover:
- Greeting diners
- Taking orders
- Running and serving food
- Closing tickets
- Menu knowledge
- Wine and food pairings
- Pre-bussing tables
Every aspect seen, done and heard in the front of house section of your restaurant affects the diners’ experiences. So your servers must go through training sufficiently.
Understanding Front of the House
A clear understanding of how the front of the house operates is one way to ensure success for your restaurant; the other half being knowing the back of the house operations. Both sections of the business must run in synch. They must also know how each section operates because when each employee in the FOH and BOH understands their challenges and processes, they’ll learn how to work better with one another.
Anchoring these two sections are the managers: the FOH manager and the BOH manager.
And the goal for both must always be good customer service. The kitchen staff must create quality, delicious dishes. They must also ensure each plate travels without a hitch from the kitchen to the dining room through good plating. The servers must be knowledgeable about what is being served to the diners to make sound recommendations. They must also know how to serve the dishes to ensure the dishes are enjoyed well. And they must learn to manage difficult customers.