Whether you’re just starting a restaurant, or you’ve been around a long while, it’s always good to take a look at the front of your house and evaluate it’s effectiveness.
In today’s article, we look at the best practice for setting up the front of the house so you are meeting customers’ needs and sending them off with a terrific experience.
First, though, let’s talk a bit about the front of house.
There are two terms used when describing a restaurant: back of house and front of house. The back of house is where your chef, cooks, dishwashers and support staff work, usually in the kitchen area.
The front of house includes the area where your diners eat and where your waiters, waitresses and hosts work. Your front of house includes your entry and waiting areas and your dining room. It’s anywhere your customers might be found.
Your front of house staff interacts with diners. Hosts and waitstaff are often referred to as “being on the floor,” since they are your restaurant’s front line.
Now let’s look at the best practice for setting up front of house.
The front of your house can make or break your restaurant. Your dining room is vital to your brand image.
Without a superb atmosphere, your customers won’t fully appreciate your food.
When designing or remodeling the front of house, you want to balance ambiance with function. Consider the seating, wait stations and waiting areas in your plan. You’ll want to reflect on your brand and your restaurant’s theme so you can carry the concept throughout the front of house.
In addition, the space needs to run with great efficiency. This helps you serve guests quicker and with ease.
When considering the basics of your front of house design, you want to think about the following:
According to Restaurant Development + Design, your “entrance reflects the hospitality the staff will deliver once diners take their seats.”
This is why it’s a great idea to think strategically about stocking the front of house. Remember – this area is the one that your customers see the first time they open your door. Two of the most important things to consider here are style and efficiency.
Go outside and walk in your restaurant as you were walking in for the first time. What do you see? Does it reflect the concept of your restaurant? Is it neat and tidy or disorganized?
Ask yourself if your host or hostess has everything they need to do their job to the best of their ability. Do they have the proper equipment and setup?
Here are some things to think about when it comes to your waiting area or entryway:
It’s best practice to set up your front of house server stations in the most unobtrusive way possible. None of your diners want to eat in the vicinity of an overcrowded, unorganized, dirty server station.
They do need to be placed throughout your dining area, and try and keep only three servers per station. Make sure they are always neat and tidy and not places of distraction. Ideas for stocking these include:
Great customer service helps your restaurant stand out in the crowd. Your hostess and wait staff are an integral part of your front of house.
If your restaurant doesn’t have good customer service, your success may be limited. A key to your success is training your front of house staff to provide excellent customer service.
Not everyone is cut out to work in a restaurant, most especially in the front of the house. Your wait staff must be quick-thinking, creative, organized, friendly, able to multitask and able to handle complaints with grace.
The goal of your host, hostess, bartender, waiter and waitress is to provide you customers with the best possible experience, so that they want to come back again and again.
The front of house staff is your liaison or intermediary between the kitchen and your customers.
Train these folks in the art of customer service so they have the skills necessary to handle happy customers, unhappy customers, a dinnertime rush and the slow times. Help them plan for any eventuality.
Here are a few tips on training your front of house staff:
The front of house is arguably the most important part of your restaurant, especially because that’s where you’ll find your customers.
Front of house includes the entry and waiting areas, bar, dining room and even your restrooms. In the front of the house, you want to pay attention to the design of your space and the training of your staff to provide excellent customer service.
Once you understand how the front of house works and do everything you can to fine tune it, you’ll be well-poised for success. (tweet this)
Have you recently revamped your front of house? Did you make changes to the dining area? What changes did you implement with your front of house staff? Share your comments below – we’d love to hear them.