December 7, 2022
Alipio Umiten IV

Front of House vs. Back of House: The FOH Meaning Decoded

The restaurant industry has two very important sides that keep the business running – front of house vs back of house. Both are integral to the success of any restaurant, but they are very different in terms of what they do and how they operate.

This blog post will take a comprehensive look at the differences between front of house and back of house and how each contributes to a restaurant’s overall success.

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Front of House vs Back of House: FOH vs BOH

Let’s explore the differences between a restaurant’s front and back of the house.

FOH Meaning: What Is Front of House?

FOH stands for “front of house.” In a restaurant, the front of house is the customer-facing part of the operation. This includes the dining room, bar, and other areas where customers interact with staff.

Front of house staff is responsible for all of the activities that take place in the dining room and beyond. This includes everything from greeting guests and seating them to taking orders and serving food.

BOH Meaning: What Is Back of House?

BOH stands for “back of house.” In the restaurant industry, the back of house refers to the kitchen and other behind-the-scenes areas such as the kitchen, dishwashing area, and storage spaces.

Back of house staff are responsible for all of the activities that take place in the kitchen and other behind-the-scenes areas. This includes preparing food, cooking food, and cleaning up after meals.

Though FOH and BOH staff are essential to the success of a restaurant, they often have very different working environments. Front of house staff is typically more customer-facing, meaning they must be able to handle customer inquiries and complaints professionally. On the other hand, back of house staff typically have less interaction with customers and instead focus on working in the kitchen.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some front of house staff may be responsible for handling reservations, curbside pick up, or takeout orders, while some back of house staff may help with food preparation or cooking. But in general, FOH staff focus on restaurant customer service and BOH staff focus on food preparation.

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Front of House

Common Locations In the Front of House

  • Entryway
  • Waiting Area
  • Restrooms
  • Bar
  • Dining Room
  • Outdoor Restaurant Seating / Patio
  • Parking Lot
  • Landscaping
  • Host / Hostess Station

Front of House Positions

  1. General Manager

The general manager is an integral part of restaurant management. They are responsible for the restaurant’s overall success and growth, ensuring that it runs smoothly and efficiently. This includes hiring and training staff, ordering supplies, dealing with customers, developing and implementing restaurant marketing strategies, budgeting costs, ensuring TCS food safety and sanitation standards are met, and overseeing day-to-day operations.

  1. Front of House Manager

The front-of-house manager manages and coordinates all front-of-house operations. They ensure that all guests have a positive and enjoyable experience by providing excellent customer service. The front-of-house manager also supervises and trains front-of-house staff, such as servers, bartenders, and hostesses.

  1. Headwaiter / Captain / Headwaitress

The head waiter / captain manages the dining room staff and ensures that all guests have a positive dining experience. They are in charge of seating guests, taking orders, and coordinating with the kitchen staff to ensure that food is served promptly and correctly. Headwaiters / captains must be able to think quickly and solve problems, as they are often the first point of contact for guest issues.

  1. Bartender

The bartender is responsible for preparing and serving drinks to customers. They must be able to mix drinks using various ingredients. Bartenders must also be knowledgeable about different types of beer, wine, and liquor and how to mix them into cocktails.

  1. Host / Hostess

As the face of the establishment, hosts and hostesses are responsible for greeting/ interacting with guests, taking their reservations, and seating them. They may also be responsible for answering phone calls and guests’ questions. The host or hostess is the first and last person guests will see when they come to the restaurant, so making a good impression is essential.

  1. Busser

The busser is responsible for keeping the dining room clean and organized. This includes clearing dirty dishes from tables, resetting tables for the next guests, and ensuring that the dining room is presentable at all times. Bussers may also be responsible for refilling water glasses and assisting the waitstaff.

  1. Food Runner

A food runner is responsible for getting the food from the kitchen to the tables. They ensure each dish is delivered to its correct table and that any special instructions from the customer are followed.

Food runners also serve as the go-between for waitstaff and kitchen staff, alerting them when a table has been waiting too long for its food.

  1. Barback

A barback is responsible for assisting the bartenders in keeping the bar stocked and clean. They typically work in high-volume bars and restaurants, and their duties may include the following:

A barback often knows mixology and prepares simple cocktails such as a mixed drink when needed.

  1. Sommelier

A sommelier is a highly trained and knowledgeable wine professional who selects, procures, and serves wine. In addition to their wine expertise, sommeliers are responsible for maintaining the wine cellar and overseeing the wine list. The sommelier is also responsible for educating the staff members and guests about wine, the best wine pairings, and wine history.

  1. Servers

Servers are responsible for taking orders, serving food and drink, and providing the customer with information about menu items. They must be able to remember orders, relay them to the kitchen staff, and keep track of which table ordered what. Servers also need to be able to upsell customers on menu items and drinks, as well as handle payment at the end of the meal.

  1. Wait Staff

The wait staff is responsible for setting up dining room tables, taking orders, serving food and drink, and cleaning up after guests have finished their meals.

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Back of House

Common Locations Found In the Back of the House

  • Kitchen
  • Employee Restrooms
  • Office
  • Storage
  • Break Room
  • Delivery Staging Area
  • Mechanical Room / Outdoor Area

Back of the House Positions

  1. Executive Chef / Head Chef

The executive chef is responsible for the overall operation of the kitchen and leads the culinary team. They develop menus, create recipes, order supplies, oversee food preparation and cooking, ensure food safety and quality, and supervise kitchen staff. In addition, they may also be responsible for menu planning, cost control, and inventory management.

  1. Line Cook

The line cook is responsible for preparing food in the kitchen. This may involve chopping vegetables, cooking meat, and assembling dishes. Line cooks must be able to follow recipes and instructions from the head chef, as well as take direction from the expeditor.

  1. Expeditor

The expeditor is responsible for coordinating the timing of food orders, so they are delivered to the dining room or other service areas on time. They will also communicate with the head chef and line cooks to ensure that orders are being prepared correctly.

  1. Dishwasher

The dishwasher is responsible for cleaning and sanitizing all dishes, utensils, and cooking equipment. They must be able to follow instructions from the head chef or kitchen manager to ensure that all dishes are properly cleaned.

  1. Sous Chef

The sous chef is responsible for assisting the head chef with all aspects of food preparation, including menu development, recipe creation, and ingredient ordering. They may also be responsible for leading a team or supervising a particular kitchen section.

  1. Kitchen Manager

A kitchen manager is responsible for overseeing the operations of a restaurant’s kitchen. This includes supervising the kitchen staff, coordinating food orders, and ensuring the food is prepared according to the menu.

Kitchen managers are also responsible for overseeing all aspects of food preparation and safety in the establishment. They ensure that the kitchen staff is properly trained and follows all sanitation guidelines. They also develop menus, order supplies, and manage inventory.

  1. BOH Manager

The BOH manager is responsible for the overall operation of the back-of-house area, including the kitchen, dishwashing, and storage areas. They ensure that all food is prepared safely and correctly and that the kitchen staff follows all health and safety regulations.

The BOH manager is also responsible for ordering supplies, inventory tracking, and ensuring that the kitchen runs smoothly and efficiently. In addition to these operational duties, they will also be responsible for hiring, training new kitchen staff, and managing the schedules of all kitchen employees.

  1. Maintenance

The maintenance staff is responsible for keeping the kitchen and dining areas clean and well-maintained. They must be able to follow instructions from the head chef or kitchen manager to ensure that all areas are properly cleaned.

  1. Delivery Driver

The delivery driver is responsible for transporting food orders to the customer’s location in a timely and efficient manner. They must have a valid driver’s license and be familiar with the area where they will be driving. Delivery drivers will also be required to load and unload their vehicles.

Two very different areas of a restaurant, yet equally important in their own way. The overall goal of both FOH and BOH is the same: to give customers a good experience that makes them want to come back for more. To accomplish this, both teams must work together as one seamless operation.

How Are Back of House and Front of House Connected?

In the restaurant business, technology plays a significant role in connecting the front and back of the house. Many restaurant technologies are available that help streamline communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Some common restaurant tech that helps connect the front of house and back of house include:

An Example of the Relationship Between FOH vs. BOH Operations

You may find yourself wondering what the relationship looks like between FOH and BOH operations in a restaurant. But let's break it down in simple terms first.
Remember that the FOH meaning refers to operations that deal directly with the public. So, related tasks involve the hosts, waiters, and bussers. Then you have the BOH staff, which consists of the chefs, maintenance workers, and dishwashers.
So let's outline a prime example of how these two departments could interact. When a restaurant is open and begins collecting orders, the kitchen staff can start fulfilling them. The staff members can do this manually or with the help of a kitchen display system. Either way, you need one team to inform the other. It's kind of like an assembly line, where you can't tackle next steps without fulfilling the ones at the start of the process. This whole concept might also suggest to many business leaders that innovative solutions can replace the middleman in restaurant settings.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Front of House (FOH) vs Back of House (BOH)

There is a lot of confusion about the roles of front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) staff in restaurants. This FAQ will help clear up some of that confusion.

Is BOH Harder Than FOH?

Both types of positions come with their own unique set of challenges and demands. However, if we had to choose one side that is generally considered more challenging, it would likely be BOH.

Some of the reasons why BOH may be seen as being more challenging than FOH include the fact that there is usually more pressure to get things done quickly and efficiently. There is also often less opportunity for error in BOH since everything needs to be perfect before it reaches the customer. Additionally, BOH employees often have to work in hot and cramped conditions, which can be physically demanding.

Is Front of House Hard?

Yes, working in front of house can be tough. It’s a fast-paced environment, and you’re constantly on your feet. You also have to deal with customers who may not be happy with their experience.

However, it can also be rewarding. You get to interact with people from all walks of life and help them enjoy their time at the venue.

Why Is the Back of the House Being Important As Front of the House?

The back of the house is often the unsung hero of any restaurant. It’s where all the behind-the-scenes magic happens, from food prep, storage, and dishwashing. While the front of house gets all the glory (and most of the customers), the back of house is just as important in keeping a restaurant running smoothly.

Here are four reasons why the back of the house is just as important as the front:

  1. The back of the house is responsible for food safety.
  2. The back of the house keeps the front of the house running smoothly.
  3. The back-of-the-house staff works hard (often behind the scenes).
  4. The back of the house is important in creating a positive guest experience.

What Are the 7 Back of the House Functions?

Here are the seven main functions that make up the back of the house:

  1. Food Production
  2. Purchasing and Receiving
  3. Sales and Marketing
  4. Human Resources
  5. Restaurant Accounting
  6. Security
  7. Engineering and Maintenance

Is FOH Or BOH Better?

It depends on what you’re looking for in a job and your goals. A BOH position might be right for you if you’re more interested in food preparation and kitchen operations. If you’re more interested in interacting with customers and being involved in the dining experience, a FOH position might be a better fit.