FOH and BOH Explained

FOH.BOHEvery restaurant has a front of house (FOH) staff and a back of house (BOH) staff.  Typically the front of house is managed very differently from the back of the house.

The FOH and BOH positions are as follows:


  • Host/Hostess
  • Server (waiter and waitress)
  • Bartender


  • Head Chef
  • Sous Chef
  • Line Cook
  • Dishwasher

Occasionally a restaurant will have staff that works in both of these areas. If you have never worked in a restaurant you wouldn’t think that there would be much of a divide between the two groups, but once you have worked at one you soon realize just how big that divide can be.

Issues ripe for argument between FOH & BOH will arise throughout a shift, some of them stemming from:

  • Guests that will send their meals back.
  • Guests with special requests.
  • Servers that will forget to ring items in correctly.
  • Large parties that will want items at different times.

When situations like these occur, it often leads to disagreements between the FOH and BOH.  FOH often times gets frustrated with BOH because they, FOH, are the ones that have to deal directly with the guests and may even have to apologize for mistakes the BOH has made.  In return, BOH feels like they are not appreciated enough for their hard work and that FOH doesn’t understand just how much they do.

So how do you make this situation better?  The first thing you want to do is to try and lessen the divide between BOH and FOH.  You can do this by reminding them that they are all working towards the same goal of making the guest’s experience amazing. 

Conflict resolution will be a daily or nightly task for you as a server, and it won’t always pertain to your guests. The same way that you anticipate the needs of your guests to ensure an issue-free experience, you should be anticipating the needs of the co-workers around you as well.

If there are particular aspects of the way you do your job that may be slowing down those around you, you can ask them for advice on what you could be doing to help them out.  Be sure to have these conversations with co-workers at an appropriate time though.  Arguments typically get started in the heat of the moment when everyone in the restaurant is busy helping their guests or preparing their food.

Another great thing that I have witnessed at several restaurants is where the waiters and waitress tip out the BOH staff.  This legally can’t be a requirement, but it can be something that is suggested.  It is proper etiquette to tip out the bartender and the host or hostess at the end of the night. 

This is typically done based upon a percentage of the waiter or waitresses total sales.  It would be very easy to have them add a spot to tip out the BOH.  Even if it is only a few dollars each night it helps to show that their hard work is appreciated by the FOH.  I have even worked at restaurants where the BOH tip money is put together and at the end of the month it is either divided amongst the BOH staff, or they all go out to eat together using that money.  One of the coolest things that I have seen is when the FOH staff buys the BOH drinks at the end of the night because they worked so hard and did such a great job.

It really doesn’t take a whole lot to help bring the front of the house and back of the house together; it is just a matter of understanding the other side of the restaurant.

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