If you’ve never heard of the terms “back of house” and “front of house” before with regards to the food trade, then this article will enlighten you! These two terms are used in the restaurant business to distinguish between the two different areas in a restaurant. The back of house is the staff area, where the cooks and other various support staff are employed and the front of house is the area where the diners sit. Different kinds of staff work in both areas, and rivalries can occasionally pop up between back of house and front of house staffers, especially when large restaurants get extremely busy!
On most occasions, the back of house is a staff-only area, even though it may be opened for viewing to the public on a limited basis for special tours. The back of house is the section in which food is stored and prepared, and it usually includes other staff areas such as a break area and changing room. Cooks, expediters, and dishwashers traditionally work in the back of house, and are largely unnoticed by the customers. In most kitchens, the back of house has a chain of command, with each staff member performing their specific task.
On the Floor
At the front of house, waiters, waitresses, and hosts have to interact with customers. These staff are said to be “on the floor,” since they are the visible representatives of the restaurant and also must deal with front of house equipment. Floor staff are supposed to be polite, courteous, informative, and neatly dressed, and their behaviour will determine whether or not guests enjoy their dining experience.
Some staff hover between both the back and front of the building. People such as assistants and runners, for example, will move the food and plates back and forth from the kitchen and the floor. Their jobs can be very highly stressful, as they have to deal with demands from the not only the kitchen, but also the floor staff. In addition, they have to engage in interactions with customers, since guests of the restaurant may not always understand the distinction between different kinds of staff members.
Visibility and Uniforms
In a number of restaurants, an area of the kitchen is made visible to members of the public. Not all members of kitchen staff enjoy this, as cooking can at times be a messy and anxiety-fraught business. Be that as it may, some diners enjoy being able to watch food being prepared, especially since showy food stations such as grill or saute are often the ones being displayed.
It is often quite easy to distinguish between members of a restaurant staff by their uniforms. Back of house staffers usually wear chef’s trousers, full jackets, and protective hair coverings. Their clothing is designed to be practical and comfortable during a long shift of cooking, rather than stylish. Most front of house staff will be seen wearing smart restaurant uniforms or polished personal clothing, to help in enhancing the atmosphere of the restaurant.
So, now you know how complex a restaurant and its operations can be!