From the moment the first restaurant opened, there’s been a divide between the front of the house and back of the house staff. Some restaurant owners choose to ignore the tension, refusing to believe it exists. Some accept it as the way things will always be. The rest strive to end the eternal struggle. For the sake of your restaurant, we hope you’re in the third category!

Why the struggle

Many things can cause a rift between your FOH and BOH staff.

When a customer complains, someone’s to blame and employees begin to point fingers. This is especially the case during your rush when etiquette and/or procedures seem to be thrown out the window. This causes mistakes, service bottlenecks, long ticket times, unsafe conditions, and overall dissent from those trying to do the right thing. No matter what, it’s a breakdown in your restaurant’s teamwork that causes a trickle-down effect: if the customer is unhappy the staff will be, too.

No matter what, it’s a breakdown in your restaurant’s teamwork that causes a trickle-down effect: if the customer is unhappy the staff will be, too.

Sometimes, especially with newer team members, people are simply not aware of the troubles they’re burdening the other departments with. Servers who don’t break down their dishes when delivering to the dish pit cause the Plongeur unwanted (and nasty) extra work. Line cooks, expos, or sous chefs who send out unfinished, unattractive, or wrong plates cause servers an undue earful and embarrassment.

Because of the perceived separation and lack of communication, team members may not even be aware they’re causing a problem until it’s too late.

Why teamwork between departments is important

Two words: Customer Service.

“The main objective for teamwork is for the organization to realize its full potential despite any possible differences individuals might have.” – Hospitality Concepts

In a restaurant, bar or hotel, no matter the concept or price-point, the one thing that sets you apart from the others will be your quality of service. If every cylinder of your business is not firing on point at all times, the guest will notice…and they won’t hesitate to let you (and the world) know.

If your team is humming along like a well-oiled machine, you may not always hear about it, but you’ll certainly notice your growing bank account.

How to promote teamwork between FOH and BOH

First, don’t make a distinction between the two at all. Tear down that figurative (or literal) wall between the kitchen and dining area by educating your staff on the flow of a customer’s order. From the moment a customer sets foot in the establishment every single employee affects that customer’s experience, whether directly or indirectly.

Regarding training, an extremely beneficial tactic is to cross-train your employees in the FOH and BOH. After working a week in the dish pit, servers will never forget to break down their dirty plates again. And kitchen staff will get to see first hand how their efforts in the back are received by guests, whether positively or negatively. No chef likes to face an unhappy guest or hear a bad review of their dish, all while having to keep their composure. One week of that and the kitchen team will empathize with the FOH.

Having a few relaxing moments to get to know each other outside of the working relationship can do wonders for team building.

Pre-shift meetings attended by the full shift’s team always work well. Issues with either side can be addressed, announcements can be made, and anything affecting the upcoming shift can be worked out as a team. Having a few relaxing moments to get to know each other outside of the working relationship can do wonders for team building. Friendships are always made in those calm moments before the storm.

Bear in mind, your staff is like a sports team. Everyone has a position to play but in the end, they’re all striving for the same goal. Teach your team that crossing the barrier between the front of the house and back of the house is beneficial to everyone. Avoid creating a separation and other trouble by fostering a team environment, by treating all staff equally, and by encouraging staff to interact with each other frequently. And, as always, if you’re staffing up, Sirvo is here to help!

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