FOH Meaning: What it is and How it’s The First Line in Customer Satisfaction

Welcome to the world of front of house (FOH) in the restaurant industry!

Did you note the positive and enthusiastic way in which we greeted you? This sort of friendly interaction is what the FOH staff is there to provide.  

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the restaurant business, understanding the ins and outs of the front of house operations is key to running a successful establishment. From the moment a guest walks through the door to the time they leave, the FOH team plays a crucial role in making everybody feel like special guests and it’s largely up to the FOH team to create a positive dining experience.

Even in the smallest of restaurants, the front of house requires a well-oiled machine of various individuals who each have specific roles to ensure the smooth running of operations.

For any restaurant owner or manager, understanding and managing front of house operations is crucial to the overall success of the business. Monitoring guest satisfaction, ensuring efficient table turnover, and managing staff effectively are just a few of the many responsibilities that fall under the front of house umbrella. Taking the time to focus on front of house operations can pay dividends in terms of positive reviews, repeat customers, and ultimately, a thriving restaurant business.

So, whether you’re a customer looking to understand the behind-the-scenes of your favorite dining spot or a restaurant professional aiming to hone your skills, diving into the world of front of house operations is both fascinating and essential for success in the restaurant industry. Stay tuned as we explore more about FOH and all that it entails!

What is FOH (Front of House) in a Restaurant?

In the restaurant industry, “front of house” (FOH) refers to the area of a restaurant where guests are greeted, seated, and served by staff members. This includes all public-facing areas in the restaurant including the dining room, bar area, and any other areas where guests interact with restaurant staff.

The front of house staff plays a crucial role in creating a positive dining experience for guests. From the moment customers walk through the door, the front of house team sets the tone for their entire visit. This includes greeting guests with a warm welcome, guiding them to their table, taking their orders, and ensuring that their needs are met throughout the meal. Front of house staff also work closely with kitchen employees to ensure that orders are delivered promptly and accurately.

In addition to providing excellent customer service, front of house staff are responsible for maintaining a clean and organized dining area, processing payments, and managing reservations. Their role is essential in upholding the overall atmosphere and reputation of the restaurant.

Front of House vs. Back of House

When you walk into a restaurant, you might immediately notice the friendly hostess greeting you at the door and the waitstaff bustling about to take orders and deliver food. This is the front of the house, where the customer-facing actions happen.

On the other hand, the back of house is where the magic happens in the kitchen, with the kitchen manager, head chef and sous-chefs cooking up delicious meals and kitchen staff working hard to ensure everything comes together perfectly. Its also where your restaurant technology lives behind the scenes.

One of the most significant differences between front of house and back of house is the type of work they do. Front of house staff are responsible for providing excellent customer service, taking orders, and creating a welcoming atmosphere, while back of house staff focus on cooking, preparing food, and ensuring quality and consistency in every dish that comes out of the kitchen.

Despite these differences, close coordination between the two is vital for efficient operations and success. Communication between front of house and back of house staff is crucial to ensure that orders are taken and prepared accurately and efficiently. Without this coordination, it can lead to long wait times for customers or even errors in orders, which can impact the overall dining experience.

In addition, a harmonious relationship between the front and back of the house can also lead to a more seamless and enjoyable dining experience for customers. When everyone is working together cohesively, it creates a positive and efficient environment that ultimately benefits both the staff and the customers.

While the front of house and back of house have different responsibilities, they both play an integral role in the overall success of a restaurant.

Consider it this way: the back of the house is in charge of the quality of food, the front of the house is in charge of the quality of customer experience. It’s important for both sides to work together and communicate effectively to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.

Common Front of House Positions

When it comes to working in a restaurant, there are a variety of front of house (FOH) job positions that play a crucial role in providing exceptional dining experiences for satisfied customers.

Some common FOH positions include host/hostess, server, bartender, and food runner. A good candidate for these roles would possess strong communication skills, a friendly and upbeat personality, the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment, and a genuine passion for customer service.

It’s important to note that not every restaurant may have all of these positions, and some restaurants may also have FOH positions that are not listed here (for example, many casual establishments won’t have coat check).

Whether you’re greeting guests at the door, taking orders, mixing up delicious drinks, or ensuring that food gets to the right table, each of these positions requires a unique set of skills and qualities.


A server is a vital team member in the hospitality industry, responsible for providing excellent customer service and delivering food and drinks to customers in a timely and efficient manner.

Core duties of a server include taking orders, serving food and drinks, and ensuring that customers have an enjoyable dining experience. Additionally, servers are often responsible for answering customer questions, highlighting menu items, upselling, addressing any concerns, and maintaining a clean and organized work environment.

You will need attentive staff working in all of your FOH positions, but it is especially important for your servers as they are the primary means by which diners will interface with your restaurant.  

Characteristics of a successful server include excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to work well under pressure, and strong attention to detail. You’ll want to make sure that your servers are familiar with every item on your menu. 

While formal education is not always required, completing a food safety and responsible service of alcohol (RSA) training course is commonly necessary.

Food Runner

A food runner is an essential part of the restaurant team, responsible for bringing delicious dishes from the kitchen to the customers’ tables. The core duties of this job position include coordinating with the chefs to ensure the correct order is delivered, communicating with the servers to maintain a smooth dining experience, and ensuring that all meals are presented beautifully and in a timely manner.

To excel in this role, an employee should possess strong communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment. A food runner should be attentive to detail, proactive, and have a positive attitude to provide excellent customer service.

Wondering how a food runner is different from a server? In smaller restaurants there may be none but in larger, more full-service establishments food runners simply drop off food and drinks (and occasionally haul away dirty dishes) with minimal interaction with diners while servers interact with the customers more frequently and  extensively. 


A bartender is a customer service professional who specializes in creating and serving drinks to patrons in bars, restaurants, and other hospitality establishments. Core duties of a bartender include mixing and serving drinks, taking customer orders, managing the bar inventory, and providing a high level of customer service.

Characteristics that are important for a bartender to possess include strong communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to multitask in a fast-paced environment, and a good knowledge of different types of alcoholic beverages and cocktails. 

A bartender should be personable, friendly, and attentive to the needs of customers in order to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience. Additionally, they should be able to handle difficult or intoxicated customers in a professional and calm manner.


A sommelier is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specializes in all aspects of wine service. Their core duties include curating wine lists, providing expert tips and wine recommendations to guests, leading wine tastings, and working closely with chefs to pair wines with food.

A sommelier should have a deep understanding of wine production, grape varietals, and wine regions around the world. They should also possess strong sensory evaluation skills to accurately assess the quality and characteristics of different wines.

In terms of education, sommeliers typically undergo formal training and certification through programs such as the Court of Master Sommeliers or the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Many also gain hands-on experience working in restaurants, hotels, or wineries to develop their palate and customer service skills.

A successful sommelier should be an excellent communicator, able to convey their passion for wine to customers and staff members. They should have a keen attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and the ability to adapt to changing trends in the wine industry. Overall, a sommelier should possess a combination of education, experience, and personal qualities that enable them to excel in the world of wine. 


A Host/Hostess is a crucial team member in the hospitality industry, responsible for greeting guests, seating them, and ensuring that they have a positive experience from the moment they enter the establishment.

Core duties of a Host/Hostess include welcoming and acknowledging guests, managing reservations, taking charge of seating guests, and maintaining a clean and organized entrance and waiting area. They may also assist in coordinating with the serving staff and managing the flow of guests in the dining area. Additionally, exceptional communication and customer service skills are a must as they often serve as the first point of contact for guests.

Ideal candidates for a Host/Hostess position should have a friendly and welcoming demeanor, the ability to multitask and stay organized in a fast-paced environment, and strong communication skills. Prior experience in customer service and a general understanding of hospitality operations is beneficial. While formal education is not a requirement, on-the-job training or a hospitality-related certificate can be advantageous.

Overall, a successful host staff is someone who can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for guests and ensure that their experience begins on a positive note. 

Front-of-House Manager

A Front-of-House Manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a restaurant or hospitality establishment. This includes managing the front-of-house staff, ensuring exceptional customer service, and maintaining a welcoming and efficient atmosphere for guests.

Core duties of a Front-of-House Manager include training and supervising FOH staff, managing reservations and seating arrangements, handling customer inquiries and complaints, and collaborating with the kitchen and bar staff to ensure smooth service. They also play a key role in maintaining cleanliness and organization in the front-of-house area and ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations.

An ideal candidate for this position should have prior experience in a supervisory role within the hospitality industry, excellent communication and problem-solving skills, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. A strong understanding of customer service principles and a passion for providing exceptional dining experiences is essential. Additionally, a degree in hospitality management or a related field is often preferred.

Ultimately, a successful Front-of-House Manager is someone who is able to lead and motivate a team, while consistently delivering top-notch service to guests. 

Restaurant Manager

A restaurant manager is someone who is responsible for overseeing the daily operational tasks of an entire dining establishment.

This includes ensuring that the restaurant delivers high-quality food and service, managing staff, and maintaining a clean and well-organized dining area. The manager also handles customer complaints and feedback, coordinates with the kitchen staff, and manages inventory and supplies.

Some key duties of a restaurant manager include handling employee scheduling, creating work schedules, hiring and training new staff, and implementing policies and procedures to ensure a smooth running operation. They also handle administrative tasks such as budgeting and financial reporting, as well as marketing and promoting the restaurant to attract more customers.

Restaurant management is a big job. A successful restaurant manager should have experience in the food and beverage industry, as well as a strong understanding of customer service and hospitality.

They should be an effective leader, able to motivate and manage a diverse team of employees, and have excellent communication and organizational skills.

A degree in hospitality management or a related field is often preferred, but hands-on experience in the industry can also be invaluable. Additionally, a good manager should be able to remain calm under pressure and have a strong attention to detail. 

You’ve no doubt noticed that this job is both front and back of house. A good restaurant manager is ultimately responsible for entire kitchen operations and entire front of house operations. Take special care when filling this position! Putting the wrong person in it can land you and your restaurant in hot water very quickly.  

Restaurant Owner

If you’re the restaurant owner then you have a big job. You’ll probably find yourself doing a bit of everything. 

As a restaurant owner, your core duties will include overseeing all operations of the restaurant, managing staff, ensuring high quality food and service, and maintaining a positive dining experience for your customers.

Ultimately, you’ll be accountable for implementing food safety regulations imposed by the state and setting additional food safety standards unique to your restaurant.

You’ll also be responsible for marketing and promoting your establishment, maintaining financial records, keeping labor costs in check while ensuring compliance with labor laws, and ultimately ensuring the success and profitability of your business.

To thrive in this role, it’s important to have a strong background in the restaurant industry, with previous experience in management or ownership positions. A degree in hospitality or business management would also be extremely beneficial in understanding the business aspect of restaurant ownership.

In addition to experience and education, successful restaurant owners possess excellent communication and leadership skills, a passion for food and customer service, and a strong attention to detail. Adaptability, creativity, and a willingness to work long hours are also important qualities for this position. If you’re ready to take on the challenge of restaurant ownership, it’s time to turn your dream into a reality.

Front of House, Back of House, how do I Manage all of this? 

Oh we’re so glad you asked. 

SynergySuite has the tools to help you optimize every aspect of restaurant management. We may be working in software now but many of us have worked in the restaurant industry and are all too familiar with the headaches that can come with getting a plate of food from the kitchen to a diner. 

Our suite of applications can help you manage your entire staff, front and back of house, so they can keep the yummy food flowing. From chef to server, bartenders to hosts we also have the HR tools to manage your entire operation. 

Get in touch with us today! We can schedule a demo that will demonstrate how our award-winning suite of software applications can specifically help you run your restaurant as efficiently as possible.  

Frequently Asked Questions about the Front of House

What is the Front of House in a restaurant?

The Front of House in a restaurant refers to the areas that are visible and accessible to customers, such as the dining area, bar, and reception or host stand.

What is the role of the Front of House staff?

Front of House staff are responsible for providing excellent customer service, seating and greeting guests, taking reservations, managing the flow of the dining room, and ensuring a pleasant dining experience for patrons.

How important is the Front of House to a restaurant’s success?

The Front of House plays a crucial role in a restaurant’s success as they are the face of the establishment, directly interacting with customers and creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere.

What qualities are important for Front of House staff to have?

Front of House staff should have strong communication skills, be friendly and personable, be able to multitask, handle pressure well, and have a genuine desire to provide exceptional service.

What are some common Front of House challenges and how are they overcome?

Common challenges include managing wait times, handling customer complaints, and maintaining a smooth flow of service. These challenges are overcome through effective communication, teamwork, good restaurant management software and a focus on problem-solving to ensure customer satisfaction.

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