What Is Front of the House at a Restaurant?

Waiter serving food to smiling customers at restaurant
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The term “front of the house” refers to any location within a restaurant where customers are allowed. This includes the dining room, bar, and restrooms. Management of the front of the house includes customer service; hiring, training, and managing staff; stocking and designing the dining room and bar; and planning menus, promotions, and other events. Understanding how the front of the house operates is important to the overall success of any restaurant.

Front of the House Customer Service

Great customer service is key and core to any restaurant's success. Train your front of the house staff to excel at customer service. When the inevitable complaint occurs, be sure that your staff knows how to handle it calmly and respectfully.

Empowering staff to handle problems as they arise with knowledge and confidence, such as a customer who’s had too much to drink, keeps everyone safe and happy.

Actions speak louder than words, and that is certainly true of customer appreciation. There are countless ways you can show your customers how much you appreciate their business. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money,⁠ or any money in some cases. For example, personal attention, especially by the owner or manager can go a long way in making customers feel special.

Customers who continue to have a positive experience at your restaurant will likely visit again, as well as recommend your restaurant to others.

Hiring for the Front of the House

There are many different jobs within a restaurant, and every single one, from the owner to the dishwasher, is essential to making a restaurant run smoothly. Many think working in a restaurant is easy, but waiting tables, tending bar, hosting, and even properly bussing tables requires special skill sets with which not everyone is equipped. Restaurant personnel who work the dining room and bar need to be friendly, organized, and quick thinking. Experience is a plus, but the right person can learn quickly with on-the-job training. 

Stocking the Front of the House

The front of the house is the only area customers see, so it should consistently reflect the theme or concept of your restaurant. It should be designed efficiently, balancing ambiance with seating capacity.

Certain pieces of front of the house equipment are also important in running an efficient restaurant. A well-stocked wait station will have everything servers and hosts need to provide excellent service. While the seating you choose can maximize the layout of the dining room, restrooms and waiting areas also need to be considered. There are also technical issues to consider, such as installing a  point of sale (POS) system to track sales.​

Promoting Your Restaurant

There are many types of promotions and marketing strategies you can use to bring in customers and keep your front of the house busy all year long. Restaurant promotions, whether run daily, weekly or monthly, are great ways to show customer appreciation and bring in extra business at the same time. Promotions can range from a nightly happy hour to an annual customer appreciation day, with drink and dinner specials.

Menu planning is a great strategy for promoting your restaurant. You can keep the menu interesting by featuring specials such as a steak and seafood night, dishes made with fresh seasonal produce, or a new low carbohydrate section.

From keeping customer service central to your mission to hiring the right people, to buying the right equipment, a well-organized front of the house will help lay the foundation for a successful restaurant.