Back of House vs Front of House in a Restaurant: A Simple Guide

back of house restaurant employee at work

Running a restaurant is like a well-choreographed dance, but let’s face it, it can also be a chaotic place. The success of any restaurant hinges on the seamless interaction between the front of house (FOH) and the back of house (BOH) staff. These two areas, though distinct in their responsibilities, work together to create a great dining experience for customers. Whether you're a seasoned house manager or new to the restaurant business, understanding the roles and responsibilities of FOH and BOH can significantly improve communication and operations within your establishment. So, let's dive into the behind the scenes areas and get familiar with what makes both sides tick.

Understanding the roles and responsibilities

To run a restaurant smoothly, it's essential to understand the distinct roles and responsibilities of FOH and BOH staff.

Front of House (FOH) responsibilities

The front of house (FOH) refers to the areas of the restaurant visible to customers and the staff members who interact directly with them.

Customer interaction and experience

The FOH staff are the face of the restaurant. They greet guests, take drink orders, serve meals, and manage reservations. These roles involve a lot of direct contact with customers, ensuring that each dining experience is enjoyable and professional. The FOH staff must handle customer requests and provide entertainment and conversation to make patrons feel welcome.

FOH positions:

The FOH is filled with various roles, each essential to smooth operations.

  • Hosts greet and seat guests, ensuring the dining room is organized.
  • Servers take orders, serve food, and assist with any needs during the meal.
  • Bartenders are responsible for preparing and serving drinks, often engaging in friendly conversation with customers.
  • Bussers keep tables and dining areas clean and assist the wait staff by clearing dishes and resetting tables.

All these positions require excellent customer service skills and the ability to work in a busy environment.

By understanding these FOH responsibilities, restaurant managers can ensure their house staff is well-trained to provide the best possible experience for their customers.

Back of House (BOH) responsibilities

The back of house (BOH) refers to the behind the scenes areas of a restaurant where the magic happens but is rarely seen by customers.

Food preparation and kitchen management

BOH staff are responsible for everything that happens in the kitchen. They prepare and cook the food, ensuring each dish meets the restaurant’s standards.

Tasks include chopping vegetables, managing food supplies, and maintaining a clean and organized kitchen.

The head chef oversees the entire kitchen, ensuring food is cooked and plated correctly. The expeditor acts as a liaison between the FOH and BOH, ensuring orders are completed in a timely manner and any order changes are communicated effectively.

BOH positions:

The BOH staff includes a variety of roles, each crucial to the restaurant's success.

  • Chefs and line cooks are responsible for preparing and cooking meals. They follow recipes and maintain the quality of dishes served.
  • The head chef is the kitchen’s leader, responsible for menu creation, ordering supplies, and managing the kitchen staff.
  • Dishwashers play a vital role in keeping the kitchen running smoothly by cleaning dishes, utensils, and keeping areas clean.
  • Kitchen managers oversee the daily operations, ensuring everything runs efficiently and staff are performing their duties.

BOH staff work in a busy and often chaotic place, but their work is essential to the restaurant’s success. Their professional skills and teamwork ensure that every meal served to guests is top-notch.

Key differences between FOH and BOH

Understanding the key differences between FOH and BOH roles is crucial for smooth restaurant operations.

Customer interaction

Direct vs. indirect roles

FOH staff are the face of the restaurant, directly interacting with customers. They greet guests, take drink orders, serve meals, and ensure patrons have a pleasant dining experience. This direct contact means FOH staff must be personable and professional. On the other hand, BOH staff work behind the scenes areas, focusing on food preparation and kitchen management. While they don't interact with customers directly, their work ensures that every meal is top-notch and delivered in a timely manner.

Skill sets and training

Required skills and training for FOH

FOH staff need excellent customer service skills. They must be adept at communication, handling customer requests, and managing reservations. Sales skills are also important, as they often upsell menu items and drinks. Training for FOH staff includes learning how to interact with customers, handle complaints, and ensure a smooth dining room experience.

Required skills and training for BOH

BOH staff require a different set of skills. Culinary skills are paramount for chefs and line cooks. They must be proficient in food preparation, cooking techniques, and kitchen management. Time management and teamwork are also crucial, as the kitchen can be a chaotic place with multiple orders to fill simultaneously. Training for BOH staff includes mastering recipes, managing food supplies, and maintaining a clean kitchen.

Work environment

The FOH and BOH work environments differ significantly. FOH staff work in a customer-facing, calmer setting where the focus is on providing excellent service and a pleasant dining experience. They need to be visible and presentable, often wearing uniforms that reflect the restaurant's style.

In contrast, the BOH is a high-energy environment filled with the sounds of cooking and prepping. BOH staff typically wear practical, professional kitchen attire designed to handle the rigors of food preparation. This includes chef coats, aprons, and non-slip shoes, ensuring both safety and hygiene in the kitchen.

Dress code and appearance

FOH staff usually wear uniforms that align with the restaurant’s theme. These uniforms help them look professional and easily identifiable to guests. They need to be neat and presentable, often reflecting the establishment's level of formality.

BOH staff, however, focus on practicality. Their attire is designed for comfort and safety, including chef jackets, aprons, and sturdy footwear. The goal is to maintain hygiene and safety standards while working in the kitchen’s high-heat and fast-paced conditions.

By understanding these key differences, restaurant managers can better train and manage their FOH and BOH staff, ensuring both sides work together harmoniously to provide the best possible dining experience for their customers.

To help you grasp the key differences between FOH and BOH, here's a table summarizing their roles, responsibilities, and environments.

Aspect Front of House (FOH) Back of House (BOH)
Customer Interaction Direct interaction with customers, handling drink orders, serving meals, managing reservations. Indirect role, focusing on food preparation and supporting FOH from behind the scenes areas.
Required Skills and Training Customer service, communication, sales skills, handling customer requests. Culinary skills, time management, teamwork, maintaining a clean and organized kitchen.
Work Environment Calmer, customer-facing, focusing on service and dining room experience. High-energy, focused on cooking and kitchen management, ensuring timely and quality food preparation.
Dress Code and Appearance Uniforms that reflect the restaurant’s style, neat and presentable to guests. Practical kitchen attire, including chef jackets, aprons, and non-slip shoes for safety and hygiene.
Positions Hosts, servers, bartenders, bussers, wait staff. Chefs, line cooks, dishwashers, kitchen managers, head chef, expeditor.


This table highlights the distinct yet complementary roles of FOH and BOH staff. Both areas are essential to the smooth operation of a restaurant, and understanding their differences can greatly improve communication and efficiency in your business.

Collaboration between FOH and BOH

Smooth collaboration between FOH and BOH is essential for a restaurant’s success.

Communication strategies

Effective communication tools are crucial for seamless operations between FOH and BOH staff. Kitchen display systems (KDS) are excellent for ensuring order accuracy and keeping everyone updated on the status of meal preparations. Staff meetings provide a platform for discussing daily operations, addressing issues, and improving practices. Additionally, communication apps can help keep all staff members informed about order changes, special requests, and other important updates in a timely manner.

Importance of clear communication

Clear communication between FOH and BOH staff is vital. Misunderstandings can lead to incorrect orders, delayed meals, and a drop in service quality. When FOH staff communicate clearly with BOH staff, it ensures that customer requests and special dietary needs are accurately conveyed, resulting in satisfied customers and efficient operations.

Team building activities

Cross-training programs can greatly enhance teamwork and understanding between FOH and BOH staff. By having FOH staff spend time in the BOH and vice versa, employees become more familiar with each other's roles and challenges. This helps build a sense of camaraderie and ensures that everyone is invested in the restaurant’s success. New employees especially benefit from this, as it helps them understand the complete picture of the restaurant's operations.

Social events and team meals

Social events and team meals are fantastic ways to foster unity among the house staff. Organizing regular team meals where FOH and BOH staff can eat and relax together helps break down barriers and encourages open conversation. These events create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, making the restaurant a more enjoyable place to work.

By focusing on communication and team-building activities, restaurant managers can create a harmonious environment where FOH and BOH staff work together efficiently, improving overall service quality and customer satisfaction.

Challenges and solutions

Understanding the common challenges and implementing solutions is key to maintaining a harmonious restaurant environment.

Common challenges

Miscommunication between FOH and BOH staff can lead to a variety of issues. For example, if FOH staff fail to relay special dietary requests or order changes clearly, the kitchen might prepare a dish incorrectly, leading to unhappy customers. Misunderstandings can also occur when the food window becomes a chaotic place, with orders piling up and getting mixed. These issues highlight the need for effective communication strategies.

Stress and burnout

Both FOH and BOH staff work in high-pressure environments that can lead to stress and burnout. FOH staff deal directly with customers, which can be demanding, especially during peak hours. BOH staff face the heat and intensity of the kitchen, striving to prepare and plate meals quickly and accurately. This constant pressure can result in physical and mental fatigue, affecting overall job performance and employee satisfaction.

Solutions and best practices

Implementing regular training sessions

Regular training sessions are essential for preventing and addressing issues related to miscommunication and stress. Training helps new employees become familiar with their responsibilities and ensures that all staff members are on the same page regarding best practices and procedures. Regularly updated training can also introduce new communication tools and techniques to improve efficiency.

Encouraging feedback and open dialogue

Creating a culture that encourages feedback and open dialogue is crucial for identifying and solving problems before they escalate. When employees feel heard and valued, they are more likely to voice their concerns and suggestions. This proactive approach helps in improving communication and fostering a sense of teamwork and camaraderie among the house staff. Managers should regularly seek input from both FOH and BOH staff, discussing ways to enhance operations and employee well-being.

By addressing these common challenges with effective solutions, restaurant managers can create a more organized and supportive work environment, leading to better service quality and happier employees.

The impact of technology on FOH and BOH

Restaurant of cafe managers looking at the planning or schedule on laptop

Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of both FOH and BOH operations.

POS systems

Features and benefits

POS (Point of Sale) systems have revolutionized restaurant operations by streamlining tasks and improving efficiency. These systems allow FOH staff to take orders quickly and accurately, ensuring that each order is immediately communicated to the BOH. POS systems also handle payments, track sales, and manage reservations, making the job of house staff much more manageable. With features like detailed sales reports and inventory tracking, POS systems help restaurant managers keep operations organized and running smoothly.

Integration with other tools

POS systems can integrate with various other tools, enhancing the overall efficiency of the restaurant. For instance, integrating with inventory management systems helps monitor stock levels and reduce waste. Scheduling tools can be integrated to manage staff shifts effectively. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can also be linked to the POS, allowing restaurants to track customer preferences and improve service. These integrations ensure that all aspects of the restaurant business are connected and working together seamlessly.

Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)

Advantages of KDS in BOH

Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) are a game-changer for BOH operations. These systems display orders digitally in the kitchen, ensuring that chefs and line cooks can see and prepare meals efficiently. KDS enhances order accuracy, reducing mistakes that can occur with handwritten tickets. It also helps manage the kitchen workflow, allowing BOH staff to prioritize tasks and ensure timely meal preparation.

Impact on FOH efficiency

KDS also positively impacts FOH efficiency. By having real-time updates on the status of each order, FOH staff can keep customers informed and manage their expectations better. This reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and improves the overall dining experience. FOH staff can easily track which orders are being prepared and which are ready to be served, ensuring a smooth flow of service from the kitchen to the dining room.

The integration of technology like POS systems and KDS in restaurants significantly improves communication and efficiency between FOH and BOH staff. These tools help streamline operations, reduce errors, and enhance the overall customer experience.


Running a successful restaurant relies heavily on the seamless collaboration between FOH and BOH staff. Each team has its unique responsibilities, skill sets, and challenges. FOH staff handle customer interaction, ensuring that guests have a memorable dining experience, while BOH staff work behind the scenes, focusing on food preparation and kitchen management.

Effective communication strategies, such as kitchen display systems and regular staff meetings, can significantly improve communication between FOH and BOH. Encouraging feedback and maintaining open dialogue are essential practices that help address and prevent common challenges like miscommunication and stress.

Team-building activities, including cross-training programs and social events, foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among house staff. These initiatives ensure that both FOH and BOH members understand each other’s roles, leading to a more cohesive and efficient operation.

Technology, especially POS systems and KDS, plays a vital role in streamlining operations, improving efficiency, and enhancing the overall customer experience. By integrating these tools, restaurants can keep their operations organized and ensure that all staff members are well-informed and working together seamlessly.

In conclusion, understanding and appreciating the distinct roles of FOH and BOH staff, investing in effective communication tools, and fostering a supportive work environment are essential for any successful restaurant. With these practices in place, restaurants can provide excellent service, maintain high food quality, and ensure that both their employees and customers are satisfied.

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Topic: Restaurant / Back of House vs Front of House