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Front of House (FOH) vs Back of House (BOH): Key Differences

November 21, 2023
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Front of house vs back of house: understanding the dynamics between these two critical areas is essential for anyone invested in the restaurant industry. Whether you're a seasoned restaurateur or a newcomer, grasping the FOH meaning and BOH meaning can significantly impact your business's efficiency and customer satisfaction. This article delves into the roles and responsibilities of each, ensuring clarity and providing insights into how they interlink to create a seamless dining experience.


FOH Meaning: What is Front of House?

FOH stands for Front of House, referring to all the customer-facing areas of a restaurant. The roles within FOH are pivotal in shaping the diner’s experience, encompassing responsibilities such as greeting guests, taking orders, and serving food. This restaurant segment is where the ambiance is set, and the brand’s image comes to life. 

Employees in the front of house must exhibit exceptional customer service skills, attention to detail, and the ability to provide a welcoming environment. From the host's meticulousness to the waitstaff's attentiveness, each element of the FOH contributes to the guests' overall satisfaction.


BOH Meaning: What is Back of House?

BOH stands for Back of House and represents the backbone of a restaurant, encompassing all the behind-the-scenes areas that customers do not see. This sector includes the kitchen, where meals are prepped and cooked, as well as the dishwashing and storage areas. 

The back of the house is the territory of chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, and managers who ensure that the culinary creations meet the establishment’s standards. The BOH is essential for maintaining the quality and efficiency of the food being served to patrons, and its smooth operation is what allows the FOH to deliver an exemplary dining experience.


Front of House Areas

The FOH typically includes:

  • Entry

  • Waiting Area/Reception

  • Host/hostess station

  • Server Stations

  • Dining Area

  • Bar Area

  • Outdoor seating/Patio

  • Patron Restrooms

  • Lounge

  • Cashier Stations

Common Locations in the Front of House

The front of the house (FOH) is the stage where your restaurant greets the world. It’s where impressions are made, and experiences are crafted. As a restaurant owner or manager, understanding the dynamics of each FOH area is crucial for seamless operation and customer satisfaction. Let’s break down these common areas to ensure your establishment’s success from the moment a patron steps through the door.

1. Entry: 

The entry is the first handshake between your establishment and your guests, setting the tone for their dining experience. It should be welcoming and representative of your restaurant's theme, conveying your brand's warmth and hospitality from the outset.

2. Waiting Area/Reception:

This space serves as a comfortable holding area for guests as they await their tables. It should have ample seating and engaging elements to keep patrons content during their wait, reflecting your commitment to their comfort.

3. Host/Hostess Station:

Strategically placed near the entrance, the host station is the command center for guest management. It's where welcoming staff greet customers, manage reservations, and orchestrate the flow to the dining area, ensuring a smooth transition from arrival to seating.

4. Server Stations:

Server stations are pivotal for maintaining service efficiency. These areas are stocked with essential supplies to assist staff in providing prompt and attentive service to each guest, demonstrating your operational excellence.

5. Dining Area:

The dining area is the heart of the FOH, where guests engage with your cuisine and ambiance. It should be meticulously arranged to balance aesthetics and functionality, providing a comfortable and visually appealing environment that complements your menu.

6. Bar Area:

A well-designed bar serves as a visual focal point and a social hub within your restaurant. It should offer a selection of beverages to entice diners while providing a lively space for guests to mingle and relax.

7. Outdoor Seating/Patio:

Outdoor spaces extend the ambiance of your restaurant into the open air, offering guests a casual and refreshing dining option. Patios should be designed to provide comfort and shelter, allowing patrons to enjoy their meals in a natural setting.

8. Patron Restrooms:

Restrooms reflect your establishment’s hygiene standards and attention to detail. They should be kept spotlessly clean and well-stocked, ensuring guest comfort and reinforcing a positive image of your restaurant.

9. Lounge:

The lounge area is an inviting space for guests to unwind before or after their meal. It should exude relaxation and sophistication, offering a selection of comfortable seating and mood lighting to create an intimate atmosphere.

10. Cashier Stations:

Cashier stations are where the final impression is made. They should be efficient and discreetly positioned, allowing for a smooth conclusion to the dining experience and a lasting positive memory.

In managing these FOH areas, remember that each plays a specific role in the symphony of dining hospitality. By ensuring each location is performing at its best, you craft an unforgettable experience that keeps guests returning.


Front of House Positions

Within the front of the house, several key positions work together to provide seamless service and a delightful experience for diners. Here are some of the essential FOH positions:

1. General Manager: The General Manager oversees the entire restaurant operation, acting as a bridge between the FOH and BOH, ensuring that both departments align with the business’s objectives.

2. Front-of-House Manager: This role involves managing the FOH team, focusing on customer service, and often dealing with bookings, complaints, and staff schedules.

3. Bartender: A bartender crafts beverages, engages with customers, and often becomes the spirited face of the restaurant’s social experience.

4. Host/Hostess: The host or hostess welcomes guests, manages reservations, and is pivotal in creating the first impression of the establishment.

5. Busser: Bussers maintain the cleanliness and readiness of the dining area, clearing tables and assisting in resetting them for new guests.

6. Food Runner: Food runners are the crucial link between the kitchen and the table, ensuring that meals arrive promptly and accurately to guests.

7. Barback: Supporting the bartender, a barback keeps the bar stocked, clean, and assists in every aspect to facilitate seamless drink service.

8. Sommelier: A sommelier is a wine expert, guiding guests through the wine list and pairing selections with meals to enhance the dining experience.

9. Servers/Wait Staff: Servers are the face of the FOH, engaging with diners, taking orders, and serving meals, all while providing an enjoyable dining experience.

10. Cashier: The cashier is responsible for the final customer interaction, handling payment transactions, and ensuring a pleasant closing to the dining experience.

Now that we’ve covered the front of the house in detail, let’s venture into the back to explore its areas and positions.


Back of House Areas

BOH areas are fundamentally operational and consist of:

  • Kitchen

  • Walk-in Refrigerator/Freezer

  • Dry Food Storage

  • Chemical/Cleaning Supply Storage

  • Manager Office

  • Employee Area (Break Room/Restrooms/Locker Room)

  • Receiving Area/Back Door

  • Mechanical Room / Outdoor Area

Common Locations Found in the Back of the House

The BOH areas are fundamentally operational, each with a specific function contributing to the restaurant’s overall efficiency and service delivery.

1. Kitchen:

The heart of the restaurant, the kitchen, is where chefs and cooks craft the meals. It’s a hub of creativity and efficiency where the menu comes to life.

2. Walk-in Refrigerator/Freezer:

These are essential for preserving the freshness and extending the shelf life of perishable ingredients, ensuring that guests enjoy the highest quality meals.

3. Dry Food Storage:

This area safeguards non-perishable items. Organized and well-stocked dry storage is vital for smooth kitchen operations.

4. Chemical/Cleaning Supply Storage:

A critical zone that holds cleaning agents and chemicals, ensuring that the restaurant meets health and safety standards.

5. Manager Office:

The administrative hub where managers oversee operations, handle scheduling, and perform other managerial tasks.

6. Employee Area (Break Room/Restrooms/Locker Room):

Spaces designed for staff welfare, providing a place to rest, manage personal belongings, and refresh themselves for service excellence.

7. Receiving Area/Back Door:

The receiving area is a crucial point for inventory control, where goods are delivered and inspected before being stored.

8. Mechanical Room / Outdoor Area:

These areas often house equipment and provide space for outdoor activities or refuse storage, which is integral to restaurant upkeep.

These areas in the back of the house are meticulously designed to optimize workflow and efficiency. From the heat of the kitchen to the organization of the dry food storage, each area plays a crucial role in the restaurant’s operations. The attention to detail in these spaces empowers a seamless dining experience in the front of the house.


Back of House Positions

In the back of the house, a team of skilled professionals works diligently to ensure that dishes are prepared to perfection and that the kitchen runs smoothly. Here are some key BOH positions:

1. BOH Manager: The BOH Manager oversees all back-of-house activities, ensuring that operations run smoothly, food safety regulations are met, and quality standards are upheld. This role also requires close coordination with the FOH Manager to align front and back-of-house operations, ensuring guest satisfaction from kitchen to table.

2. Kitchen Manager: The Kitchen Manager works closely with the BOH Manager, focusing on the kitchen's daily functionality, from staff scheduling to inventory management.

3. Executive Chef / Head Chef: The Executive Chef, or Head Chef, is the visionary for the restaurant's culinary direction, curating menus and leading the kitchen team in delivering exceptional food.

4. Sous Chef: Acting as the Executive Chef's right hand, the Sous Chef manages the kitchen staff, assists in menu execution, and steps in as the culinary leader when needed.

5. Line Cook: Each Line Cook is responsible for a particular production area, executing parts of the menu with precision and care, ensuring every plate that leaves the kitchen is up to par.

6. Prep Cook: Prep Cooks are essential for mise en place, preparing ingredients to be used in the creation of dishes, ensuring the line cooks have everything they need.

7. Dishwasher: Dishwashers play a critical role in maintaining hygiene, ensuring that every piece of cutlery and cookware is clean and ready for use.

8. Expediter: The Expediter is the communication hub between the kitchen and the dining room, ensuring that orders are prepared correctly and served promptly.

9. Pastry Chef: Specializing in desserts, the Pastry Chef creates sweet confections that complement the menu and delight the palate.

10. Storekeeper: The Storekeeper manages inventory, oversees supplies storage, and ensures that all BOH items are stocked and organized.

11. Maintenance Worker: Maintenance Workers keep the BOH equipment in top condition, addressing repairs and ensuring everything operates safely and efficiently.

12. Delivery Driver: A vital link in the supply chain, the Delivery Driver ensures that fresh ingredients are transported to the restaurant promptly and safely.

Now that we’ve explored FOH and BOH areas and positions let’s uncover the connection between these two realms and why their collaboration is essential for restaurant success.


How are Back of House and Front of House Connected?

Front-of-house and back-of-house staff rely on each other to deliver top-notch service. For instance, the waitstaff takes orders from guests and conveys them to the kitchen while chefs and cooks prepare the dishes to fulfill these orders. This symbiotic relationship ensures that guests receive their meals promptly and that the food is of the highest quality.

In essence, the FOH and BOH are two halves of a whole, working in tandem to create memorable dining experiences. 

Now, let’s explore the role of technology in enhancing this collaboration.

Front of House Technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in the front of the house by improving customer service and streamlining operations. Here are some common technologies used in the FOH:

Back of House Technology

Technology is leveraged in the back of the house to enhance kitchen operations and ensure efficiency. Here are some of the tech tools used in the BOH:

  • Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) organize incoming order details from POS terminals to guide cook sequencing.

  • Inventory Management Software tracks ingredient levels and predicts required stocks with consideration for incoming orders.

  • Online Ordering POS allows direct input from web interfaces that sync across BOH execution systems.

  • 3rd Party Delivery Partners are coded into POS interfaces for seamless order handling.

  • Restaurant Management Software centralizes the coordination of orders, staff, and critical workflows.

Now that we’ve explored the role of restaurant technology in the front of the house (FOH) and back of the house (BOH), let’s delve into strategies for improving the functionality and communication between these two crucial areas.


Tips for Improving FOH and BOH Communication

Enhancing communication between FOH and BOH teams is vital for a restaurant's success. Here are some actionable tips to improve dialogue and teamwork:

  1. Pre-Shift Meetings: Conduct pre-shift meetings where FOH and BOH staff can discuss the day's specials, menu changes, and any relevant information.

  2. Clear Communication Channels: Establish clear protocols for relaying orders, special requests, and guest feedback between FOH and BOH.

  3. Feedback Loops: Create a feedback loop where FOH can provide insights to BOH about guest preferences, and BOH can offer suggestions to enhance dish presentation.

  4. Cross-Team Training: Implement cross-team training sessions to help staff gain a deeper understanding of each other's roles.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a more cohesive and efficient restaurant environment.

The Difference Between FOH vs BOH

The distinction between front of house and back of house is fundamental to the success of any restaurant. While FOH focuses on delivering exceptional customer service and creating a welcoming atmosphere, BOH ensures that the culinary creations are prepared to perfection. These two areas work harmoniously, relying on effective communication and collaboration to provide guests with memorable dining experiences.

Conclusion

Understanding the roles, responsibilities, and relationships between FOH and BOH is crucial for anyone involved in the restaurant business. By recognizing the importance of these two domains and fostering effective communication and collaboration between them, restaurant owners and managers can ensure the success and longevity of their establishments.

If you're looking to enhance the synergy between your restaurant's FOH and BOH, consider exploring technology solutions like Chowbus POS. Our advanced POS system can streamline your operations and improve communication between front and back of house staff. Book a free demo or consultation today to take the next step toward restaurant success.

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

Have more questions? Our FAQ section is here to clarify any additional uncertainties about FOH and BOH operations.

What is Considered Back of House?

Back of house refers to the areas in a business or establishment that are not visible to customers or the public. These areas primarily focus on operations and support functions rather than customer-facing activities. 

In a restaurant, for example, the kitchen, storage areas, and employee break rooms are considered the back of the house. In a retail store, it includes the stockroom and administrative offices. The back of the house plays a crucial role in the smooth functioning of a business, but it is typically not accessible to customers.

What is Considered Front of House?

Front of House refers to the public-facing areas of a business or venue, such as a restaurant, theater, or event space. It encompasses all the spaces and areas where customers or guests interact with the staff and experience the services or entertainment offered. This typically includes the entrance, reception area, dining or seating area, ticket counters, and other customer-accessible spaces.

In a restaurant, for example, the front of the house includes the dining area, host/hostess stand, bar area, and restrooms – essentially, anywhere that customers can see and access. In a theater, it comprises the lobby, ticket booth, auditorium seating, and concession stands.

Does Front of House or Back of House Make More Money?

In the US, individuals working in the back of the house typically earn higher hourly wages than those in the front. However, employees in the front of the house often make more money overall due to the additional income they receive from tips.


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