Front of House vs Back of House: What’s the Difference?

By Megan Lee

A group of five restaurant workers are standing together outside smiling.

The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” could not be any more true when it comes to running a restaurant. And in every restaurant, there are two essential parts that keep restaurants running smoothly and efficiently: the restaurant front of house (FOH) and the restaurant back of house (BOH). Rather than working against one another as front of house vs back of house, these two parts of your operation should work together to provide an exceptional customer experience for those dining in your restaurant. If there is a disconnect between these two essential parts of your operation, you could be left with upset customers.

So how do you know if your FOH and BOH are both operating as efficiently as possible? And how do you know if these two teams are working together in harmony?

To answer all these questions and more, this guide will cover:

  • What is front of house and what is back of house?
  • The difference between the restaurant front of house and restaurant back of house
  • What does the front of house and back of house consist of?
  • How to improve communication between the FOH and BOH of a restaurant

Front of House vs Back of House: What’s the Difference?

The difference between a restaurant front of house and a restaurant back of house is that the front of house refers to the staff, areas, and functions that are visible to customers, while the back of house refers to the staff, areas, and functions that are often invisible to customers. Though one area is more customer-facing, both play a vital role in maintaining the smooth operations of a restaurant. 

A man who is a server brings a group of three happy customers their burgers and fries.

What Is Front of House?

So what is the front of house and what takes place there? FOH, meaning front of house, refers to all the areas that set the tone for the customer’s experience in your restaurant. These areas are run by your restaurant’s FOH staff, who interact with your customers the most during their visit. Therefore, all restaurant front of house staff must work together to create a positive, memorable experience, ultimately leaving a good long lasting impression on every guest that visits. 

Front of House Areas

As mentioned, the FOH, meaning front of house, refers to the areas most visible to guests. The areas that make up a restaurant front of house can include:

  • Entryway: This is where guests are first exposed to the ambience and general feel of your restaurant as they walk-in. It’s where they are greeted by the host at the stand, so make sure the first impression is a positive one.
  • Waiting Area: This where guests can comfortably wait while their table is being prepared.
  • Bar Area: The bar is a great place to interact with guests. It’s also a smart way to up-sell your guests with a drink before they dine-in.
  • Dining Room: This is a critical touch point in the dining experience, as this is where guests will likely have the most interaction with your front of house staff, specifically your servers.
  • Restrooms: Most guests will visit your restaurant restrooms during their visit so ensure this area is kept clean, tidy, and well-stocked.
  • Patio Seating Area: An outdoor dining area is always a bonus for guests, especially during the summer months. The more aesthetically pleasing it is, the better!

Front of House Positions

Each one of the FOH areas listed above is run by the staff who make up your front of house team. All the FOH positions play an important role in executing a positive and successful experience for every guest that walks through the doors of your restaurant. These FOH positions can include:

  • General Manager: The GM is responsible for overseeing the operations of the restaurant and ensuring that the service is going smoothly, while addressing any issues along the way.  
  • Hosts: Hosts are responsible for welcoming, seating, and providing guests with their menus upon arrival.
  • Servers: Servers interact with the guests the most, including taking their orders and providing them top-notch customer service.
  • Bussers: Bussers prepare and clean the tables between guests and courses.
  • Bartenders: The bartender is responsible for making drinks for guests as requested.
  • Barbacks: Barbacks are the bartenders’ assistants in helping ensure the bar operations are running smoothly, including making sure there is enough inventory for the bartender to make the drinks.
  • Front of House Manager: The Front of House Manager is responsible for supervising the front of house staff and making sure the day-to-day operations are moving along efficiently.

Front of House Technology

In order for all the staff listed above to do their jobs, the right front of house technology is essential. Tech can help your front of house staff run operations efficiently and improve the overall guest experience. It can also help your staff avoid errors with your guests’ orders and mitigate wait times. 

Here are some of the most essential pieces of FOH technology:

Point of Sale (POS) System

A Point of Sale (POS) system is the engine of your restaurant operation. This system helps restaurateurs improve their operations and seamlessly manage orders, payments, and menus. For example, TouchBistro’s cloud-based, mobile restaurant POS system allows FOH to take orders tableside and send those orders to the kitchen immediately for faster service.

Payment Systems

In addition to the POS, payment hardware and software provides your guests with a multitude of ways to pay for their meal. Ideally, you should be using a payment processing solution that is integrated with your POS, so that staff don’t need to manually enter transactions into the payment terminals. This not only speeds up the payment process, but also reduces any errors.

Self-Order Kiosks

Short-staffed? No problem! Self-order kiosks allow guests to place their order and pay all on their own. This kind of self-service technology helps to keep lines moving and shorten wait times. It also allows the guest to sort through your menu, order, and purchase their food and drinks at their own pace, which some guests may prefer.

Three chefs wearing white t-shirts and blue hats are in a kitchen cooking.

What Is Back of House?

Though it may be less visible to guests, the BOH is where the magic really happens. So, what does BOH mean? BOH, meaning back of house, encompasses all the staff and areas behind the scenes of your restaurant operation. It holds great importance, as the functionality, staff, technology, and areas that make up the back of house ensure your restaurant is operating as efficiently as possible. 

Back of House Areas

As mentioned before, the BOH, meaning back of house, includes all the areas where ingredients are stored, meals are prepared, administrative work takes place, and staff take their breaks. A restaurant’s back of house areas may not always be visible to diners, however, that doesn’t mean it’s not essential to a restaurant’s operations. Some of the back areas of a restaurant include:

  • Kitchen: The kitchen is the heart of any restaurant since this is where orders are prepped, cooked, and plated. But that’s not all! The kitchen is also where all a restaurant’s ingredients are stored, and where the dirty dishes get washed. 
  • Office or Administrative Areas: The back office is where administrative work gets done. This is the behind the scenes work that keeps operations running smoothly.
  • Backroom for Staff: In most restaurants, there is a backroom where employees take breaks. This is a perfect example of how back of house areas are not always visible to guests, but it is there for employees and staff members to use.

Back of House Positions

To make sure the BOH space is running smoothly, you need a solid BOH team behind you. All BOH positions are important in ensuring that the back of house areas are operating efficiently, and setting the front of house staff up for success. Some of the most essential back of house positions include:

  • Kitchen Manager: This person is responsible for managing kitchen staff and jumping in when needed.
  • Executive Chef: The executive chef holds the leadership position in managing the kitchen operations and staff.
  • Sous Chef: A sous chef assists the executive chef in supervising kitchen staff and operations.
  • Line Cook: Line cooks are essential as they execute a part of the meal preparation and cooking process that happens in the kitchen.
  • Expeditor: One of the most essential roles in any kitchen, the expeditor assists with communication between servers and the kitchen.
  • Dishwasher: Dishwashers keep the kitchen moving by cleaning the dishes that come in and out of the kitchen, including pots, pans, utensils, plates, and more.

Back of House Technology

In order for your BOH team to do their jobs, the right back of house technology is essential. So, what does this mean for your BOH and how can it help? With the right back of house solutions, you can turn around orders quicker, streamline communication between kitchen staff, and maximize profits.

Here are some of the most important pieces of back of house technology:

Kitchen Display System

A kitchen display system is a screen that displays order tickets sent from the POS system. Having a kitchen display system for your BOH staff to use can help streamline communication, decrease the time it takes to prepare an order, and mitigate errors in day-to-day operations.

Back Office Software

Though not as flashy as a great KDS, restaurant back office software is essential in helping management streamline back office functions, such as inventory management, shipping and receiving, and maximizing profits.

How the FOH and BOH Work Together

Think of your front of house and back of house as one unit, as opposed to front of house vs back of house. Your FOH and BOH staff should be working together as a team to meet a unified goal. All staff, whether they are part of the FOH or BOH, must work together in unison to provide a positive and memorable experience for their guests in the most efficient way possible.

Tips for Improving FOH and BOH Communication

Marrying both the FOH and BOH areas of your restaurant can be difficult at first. However, there are few ways to make it easier.

Work in Someone Else’s Shoes for a Day

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in someone else’s shoes for a day? Give it a try with your front and back of house staff. Sometimes your staff can get so caught up in doing their job that they miss out on understanding how others’ positions can play a critical role in helping them do their job better.

Have an Expeditor

Not every restaurant has one, but an expeditor can play an essential role in bridging  communication between the servers placing an order and the BOH staff preparing the orders. A great expeditor can ensure no errors are made, questions are answered, and it’s all done through one person. Sometimes it can be better to not have too many “cooks in the kitchen”!

Celebrate Together

Celebrate the big wins together! Though it may seem trivial sometimes, encourage your staff to spend time together to increase employee morale. Your restaurant should not operate as front of house vs back of house, but rather one cohesive team. By sitting down for a meal together or planning a staff outing, you can provide opportunities for your staff to get to know each other outside of work. This can have a positive impact on your restaurant operations through improving teamwork and communication between the front and back of house staff. 

By better understanding how to create harmony between the front of house and back of house of your restaurant, you can create a positive and unforgettable experience for your guests moving forward. It’s not only a win for your guests, but also a win for you and your restaurant staff. Go teamwork!

by Megan Lee

Megan is the Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, where she uses her passion for food to write about the restaurant industry. She’s a big “foodie” at heart, and you can always find her enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant with friends and family, or cooking one up at home. She also loves relaxing with a good book and making progress at the gym.

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