It’s not uncommon for there to be tensions between restaurants’ front and back of house staff. From opposing personality types to the contentious fact that only the FOH gets tipped, animosities can run high and ultimately cause the quality of service to suffer. However, it doesn’t have to. Although the BOH and FOH may never be besties, the two can work as a team so that service is at its best. Here are a few ways the BOH can help to make it so.
“The BOH needs to know the reality—a team effort between FOH and BOH determines the quality of service.”
Adam Weiner, Culinary Arts Instructor
- Have tastings of menu items and daily specials available for the waitstaff before service, so they can answer customer questions with first-hand knowledge.
- Along the same lines, use a dedicated board to list the ingredients in the specials so the servers are informed in the case the case of questions and allergies. This way, the kitchen staff does not have to be bothered in these situations.
- Instruct the servers on the focal points of each dish so they can place the plate slightly off the focal point and turn it to the proper position. Customers will notice the extra gesture and tips will go up.
When that happens, the servers will think the BOH staff are heroes.
- Train FOH staff on how to proceed if a customer is unhappy with the food, whether that is notifying a manager or going straight to the chef. In this situation, Adam Weiner suggests having the chef personally talk with the customer as “doing this fosters loyal customers who bring in more new customers.”
- This one is specifically for Kitchen Managers and Executive Chefs – be in the kitchen so that you’re seen by the FOH. Everyone seems to work harder, faster, better and more effectively when the KM or chef is in the kitchen—even if he or she isn’t doing anything.
- Continuing with the tip above, take it a step further by dropping in unannounced. According to Weiner, “even when servers don’t report to the chef, they are better servers (and treat the kitchen staff better) when the chef is there or might come in at any moment.”
- Don’t let servers hang out in the kitchen as they will inevitably slow down the BOH and potentially get hurt or cause someone else to get hurt due to lack of training.
FOH should only be present in the kitchens their jobs require. No more, no less.
- Develop a discreet restaurant-wide hand signal or verbal cue for gathering staff to use in the event of conflict. This helps shield guests from embarrassing situations that might affect how they perceive your business.
The bottom line is that there needs to be an understanding between the front and back of house that personal differences come second to service, and that working as a team will only prove to help this cause.
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