What is a Restaurant’s Front Of House (FOH) – Everything You Need To Know

Staff punching orders at the front of house of a restaurant

Front-of-house (FOH) refers to all activities and settings a patron will experience while dining at a restaurant, including the lobby and dining area. The FOH staff greets and receives customers and relays their requests. This group of workers includes managers, hosts, waitpersons, and bartenders, among others.

The behavior of your staff makes the biggest difference in the quality of your restaurant’s service. Hence, your restaurant’s front-of-the-house staff members should always maintain a high standard of personal hygiene and present a polished, welcoming image. 

Continue reading as we talk more about front-of-house employees in a restaurant, their importance, functions, the different FOH positions, and tips on managing and optimizing FOH operations.

Functions of Front of House

It is the responsibility of staff working at the front of the house to manage the following: 

  • Taking and confirming reservations made over the phone, online, and in person.
  • Directing early customers to the bar area while they are waiting for their tables.
  • Escorting diners to their tables and distributing menus to them.
  • Accepting food and beverage requests and informing the appropriate staff of them
  • Sometimes, make the beverage yourself. 
  • Bringing food orders from the kitchen to each appropriate table.
  • Removing the crockery and silverware from each table after each guest has finished their meal or upon request.
  • Offering customers their checks after they are done with their meal.
  • Clearing tabletops for the next customer.

Positions in Front of the House

The FOH team at your restaurant should consist of people with various skills and abilities, so finding the best candidate for the FOH positions is critical to overall success. These are the top FOH positions that you’ll need the perfect person for:

  • Manager: The general manager (GM) is responsible for managing the entire restaurant staff, which includes the front and back of house personnel, but they are frequently found in the dining area. The FOH manager supervises all front-of-house staff and reports to the GM. They are in charge of scheduling, handling customer complaints, and interviewing and hiring new employees.
  • Hosts: The host or hostess welcomes guests as they enter and leave from a position near the entrance. Additionally, they provide menus to visitors and take reservations. They also answer phones and direct customers to their seats.
  • Headwaiter: To provide the best possible customer service, the headwaiter supervises the waitpeople, host staff, and bussers. They supervise other servers while also serving their tables. The answer to the FOH manager.
  • Bartender: The bartender is responsible for fulfilling all beverages ordered from the servers or guests. They serve soft drinks, make mixed drinks, and pour beer, wine, and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, Sommeliers are wine experts who are well-versed in all aspects of wine. They help to create the wine list and food pairings and also educate the staff so that they can better serve customers.
  • Bar-back: The most crucial duty of a bar-back is to keep the ice filled while serving as the bartender’s assistant. They also ensure that new glasses, napkins, and garnishes are always available and may sometimes also prepare drinks.
  • Server: Servers should be accommodating and welcoming because they engage with customers the most. They take orders from customers, respond to inquiries, and offer recommendations using their understanding of the menu. They communicate with kitchen personnel, prepare checks, and accept payments.
  • Food Runner: By ensuring that guests receive hot food as soon as possible, food runners offer a helpful service. Under the expeditor’s supervision, they take orders while waiting at the kitchen window. They should be able to navigate the menu and accommodate requests for extra items like silverware, additional napkins, or drink refills because they deal with customers.
  • Bussers: Bussers set tables for new customers by removing dirty dishes and cleaning the table. They should dress professionally and wear clean aprons since they spend a lot of time in the dining room. They frequently help servers by restocking water glasses, distributing bread, or attending to small inquiries.

How to Manage Front of House (FOH)?

An excellent yet simple way to impress your customers, attract repeat business, and increase overall sales is by properly training your front-of-house staff. Here are some tips on managing your FOH operations:

1. Invest In Advanced Technology

The best way to accurately assess your restaurant’s performance, including monitoring sales and employee performance, is to incorporate efficient POS technology. A POS system is an excellent tool for enhancing operations, helping to increase server efficiency, and enhancing table management. It can also monitor the effectiveness of new promotions and determine which servers sell the most products.

An online reservation and kitchen display system (KDS) can also optimize the restaurant’s operations.

2. Schedule Pre-Shift Meetings

Gather the staff before each shift to go over any special menu items, events, VIP clients, or service issues you want them to concentrate on. Additionally, this will promote effective communication between the kitchen and restaurant staff.

3. Create A FOH Employee Training Manual

Everyone loves having a staff member with institutional memory they can ask questions of, but if that person were to take a vacation, get sick, or be fired, the policy wouldn’t work either. Therefore, include all crucial information about how FOH should function in an employee manual.

Employees should go through the manual to understand how the restaurant operates, how customers interact with it, what foods and wines are offered, and logistical issues like your POS system. If you want to increase efficiency, let each employee take this document home, so they can access it for all their queries and concerns even when they’re not working.

How to Optimize Front of House (FOH)?

When running a restaurant, you must constantly reevaluate how to make your procedures and systems more effective. To help with that, here are a few ways to optimize the FOH aspect of your restaurant:

1. Personalize Guest Experience

When customers make reservations or sign up for an online waitlist, you can save details about their dietary requirements, allergies, special dates, and other preferences to their guest profiles. Your front-of-house staff can use this guest information to customize the dining experience. 

For instance, when a customer celebrates a birthday, servers put a candle on a dessert. Providing customers with first-rate service also involves pointing out the allergen information on the menu without being asked. Making your restaurant unique will attract new customers and keep current ones coming back.

2. Embrace Contactless Dining

Want to improve your restaurant’s efficiency? Get on board the contactless dining experience trend right away. By enabling customers to make a reservation online, place an order online, and even pay online—all without having to touch anything in the restaurant—contactless dining can hasten the pace of your service.

Dine-in customers can scan a QR code to access your menu online, order food from their smartphones, and pay for it using a contactless order and pay solution. This solution reduces interactions between customers and staff while also assisting you in enforcing table time limits and accelerating turnover.

For example, when customers are ready to pay, they use their phones to make payments without needing a staff member.

3. Encourage Advance Reservations

Encouraging customers to make reservations will assist you in managing capacity and labor requirements. When you know how many customers to anticipate in advance, you can staff your restaurant appropriately and reduce labor costs.

You won’t overstaff the FOH and lose money, nor will you run the risk of understaffing and providing a bad dining experience. For instance, you can more quickly assign diners to tables when you can keep an eye on the incoming customers.

Furthermore, creating a virtual waitlist that diners can join digitally can help optimize front-of-house operations. A waitlist platform that enables SMS communication between FOH staff and guests and mentions accurate wait times before guests sign up for the list improves the customer experience.

Technology In Front of House (FOH)

The front of house at restaurants uses various technologies to provide seamless service and a top-notch dining experience. Here are some of the technologies that are revolutionizing the dining experience, from reservations to payment processes:

  • Online Reservation System: Along with helping customers seamlessly reserve tables online, they help determine table turnover time.
  • Point-of-Sale System: It helps in seamlessly taking customers’ orders, accepting payments, and helping streamline various FOH operations.
  • Wearable Technology: Integrating your POS system with an Apple watch helps employees get real-time alerts on service-related matters such as table turn, VIPs entering the building, and what item needs to be removed from the menu. 
  • Online Ordering System: It enables restaurants to generate additional income during slow restaurant hours by serving more customers than can be seated. It also has the added advantage of being comparatively simple to implement.


A well-optimized front-of-house (FOH) will help lay the groundwork for a successful restaurant, whether hiring the right people or purchasing the right equipment.

It also plays an important role in customer satisfaction, so you should optimize and improve it. The way your staff interacts with guests, as well as your ordering and payment process, have a significant impact on your restaurant’s brand and reputation.

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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