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FOH and BOH | meaning, differences, and how to manage them properly
The FOH and BOH sections of a restaurant must work seamlessly to produce high-quality and safe dishes.
The FOH and BOH sections of a restaurant must work seamlessly to produce high-quality and safe dishes.
- FOH refers to the front-of-house section or the public-facing area of a restaurant, which includes the dining area, host station, and bar.
- BOH is the back-of-house section of a restaurant, which includes the kitchen, storage area, and loading dock.
- FOH and BOH consist of a diverse set of expertise, functions, and required skills and equipment to work.
A food service business such as a restaurant has a very fast-paced environment that the restaurant owner must properly manage. To do this, managers must be aware of the core responsibilities of the two main sections of any food business - the FOH and BOH. The front of the house and back of the house sections make up the entire food service establishment. Each section has its job and functions to serve guests and achieve customer satisfaction.
Managing the two sections of a restaurant can be very daunting. To provide excellent service, food managers must consistently monitor each team's progress. While the front-of-house teams handle difficult customer interactions, the back-of-house team prepares the food.
In this article, we discuss the key areas of FOH and BOH and show restaurant managers how they can efficiently maintain food safety compliance while managing their operations using our smart Food Safety Management System.
Here is a list of the topics discussed in this article:
WHAT WE'LL COVER:
- FOH and BOH meaning
- BOH - Back of house
- FOH - Front of house
- Managing food safety for front and back of house operations using FoodDocs
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FOH and BOH meaning
FOH and BOH are the two main components of a food service business operation. The two departments work together to provide a coordinated and safe dining experience for customers.
FOH refers to the "front of house" operations or the area where customers talk with the staff, select food, and dine. The front of house includes the bar, counter, host stand, entrance, and dining area.
On the other hand, BOH means "back of house." This department includes the area of a food service business where food supplies are received, prepared, and cooked for service. BOH also includes an area for cleaning and sanitizing kitchen utensils.
A seamless coordination between the two departments is critical for a working operation. Although the two departments have completely different jobs, their operational tasks complement each other.
The FOH staff is in charge of introducing the food business to dining consumers, providing them with the necessary information, such as allergens and consumer advisories, and attending to the needs of customers. At the other end of the restaurant, the BOH staff is in charge of ensuring that the food being served in the restaurant is safe and up to standards.
Both departments are regulated and monitored by food safety standards and are required to protect public health with proper food service practices.
Front of house vs. back of house
The FOH and BOH departments have very different sets of operations. They also have unique tools and equipment needed to fulfill their daily tasks. Food workers in each department are required to have different sets of skills and proficiency to serve customers properly.
Below, we go into detail about the differences between front and back-of-house services:
1. Location. As the name of each department suggests, the two parts of a restaurant's operations to the dining area and the kitchen area. The FOH refers to the area where customers are received and interacted with and the location where they dine.
On the other hand, the BOH area includes food preparation areas, such as the kitchen, and the location where cooking equipment, dishwashers, and loading docks are located.
2. Responsibilities. The FOH and BOH areas have very diverse responsibilities. Front-of-the-house staff are responsible for greeting customers, arranging seats, taking orders, serving food, handling payments, and attending to any customer complaints. They are the connection between the customers and the food handlers in the kitchen.
Back-of-the-house staff provide services such as aspects of food preparation, cooking process, plating, and cleaning the area. Food employees in this section must be knowledgeable about the critical operations in preserving food safety for consumers.
3. Customer interaction. A vital role of the FOH staff is customer interaction. They handle customer choices and must maintain a positive and professional tone while dealing with customers. They are also responsible for handling any conflicts that may arise during service. FOH staff must introduce the specialties of the restaurant and are responsible for disclosing important safety information to the consumers.
The staff that belongs to the restaurant back of house department have very minimal to no interaction with customers.
4. Food safety tasks. Both sections of the restaurant share responsibilities for maintaining food safety. The FOH section is responsible for disclosing allergen information and the risk of consuming undercooked food. They are also responsible for maintaining the basic hygienic environment within the dining area. FOH employees are responsible for cleaning tables and delivering used utensils to the back of the house.
The BOH section is responsible for a lot of food safety tasks. This area requires consistent sanitary conditions to protect the food being prepared. Employees are required to follow food safety regulations set for cooking and preparing food. BOH employees monitor the conditions during food preparation and cooking (e.g., storage temperature, cooking internal temperature, and kitchen sanitation.
5. Dress code. Both sets of employees from BOH and FOH are required to wear proper and professional attire for food service. FOH staff are often provided with uniforms that bear the company logo and protective gears that will prevent contamination of foods.
BOH staff, on the other hand, are required to wear protective gear, such as a chef's coat, aprons, hairnets, non-slip shoes, and occasionally gloves. The dress code intended for BOH employees aims to protect them from accidents and the food from getting contaminated.
Find out more about the proper dress code and rules in a food service restaurant from our detailed article.
6. Training. FOH and BOH departments undergo very different food safety training. While both departments require food safety training, the level of each lesson will differ. Front-of-the-house restaurant staff have minimal interaction with the food and therefore focus more on customer service. On the other hand, BOH employees are required to undergo detailed food safety training to learn about the risks of cross - contamination and foodborne illnesses. Food handlers with direct contact with the food being prepared are required to secure licenses.
In this detailed article, we discuss the different levels of food safety training for food handlers.
7. Management. The management style for the two sections significantly depends on the organization of the food business. Some businesses have separate management for FOH and BOH. In this case, the front end of the restaurant is managed by the general or restaurant manager, whereas the food safety manager or the kitchen manager handles the back end.
Overall, the front and back-of-house departments of a food service business have completely different sets of roles and operations. Although different, these operations make up the entire system of a food service business.
Manage both departments with ease while saving more time for improving your business using our smart software solution. Our smart Food Safety Management System features a real-time dashboard that gives you a quick overview of each department's status when it comes to food safety tasks. You can identify areas across your business branches that need more attention and address them right away to maintain compliance.
Experience how our smart solutions can help you achieve efficiency using our free 14-day trial.
BOH - Back of House
When you step into a restaurant, you do not normally see how your food is being prepared. All the preparation and heavy lifting of the food and ingredients happen in the kitchen or the back of the house.
A restaurant's BOH determines the quality, efficiency, and variety of the offered food and services.
In this section, we discuss the following topics about the back-of-house restaurant section:
Back of the house definition
The back-of-the-house restaurant section is considered the "heart of the restaurant." This is because it houses the kitchen where the food being served in the business is prepared and cooked.
The kitchen is where the food ingredients, equipment, tools, cooking utensils, and preparation tables are found. This area contains sections where food is properly stored and accessed to fulfil orders from the front of the house.
In addition to preparation and cooking, the back-of-house restaurant section also includes the cleaning aspects, inventory management, equipment maintenance, and waste management. The back end of a restaurant works to maximize the resources of the food business while producing high-quality food products.
The back-of-the-house section requires skilled and knowledgeable workers in terms of preparing food and maintaining the cleanliness of the kitchen. Coordination among the different back-of-house job positions inside the section is critical to producing quality and safe products.
Here, we list down some of the key positions for a productive back-of-house restaurant department:
- Maintenance team. Members of the maintenance team are responsible for ensuring that every technical piece of machinery and equipment in a kitchen is running smoothly. In case a machine is malfunctioning, chefs and prep cooks are not allowed to fix them and are tasked to coordinate with the maintenance team to prevent further problems. Employees in this team are highly knowledgeable when it comes to different pieces of equipment.
- Prep cook. Prep cooks basically take care of the raw ingredients before they get cooked. This kitchen staff handles retrieving the ingredients from the stock room and ensuring that the needed materials are complete. Prep cooks also do tasks such as cleaning, cutting, deboning, and other preparatory tasks for the main chefs. Prep cooks work closely with line cooks and the executive chef.
- Line cook. Line cooks assemble the dishes before serving. They are responsible for ensuring that each dish is served on time and complete. Line cooks need to perform fast and efficiently to keep the kitchen running.
- Dishwasher and cleaning employees. These food workers ensure that the kitchen and nearby areas are all clean and sanitized. Their job is critical as they are responsible for controlling potential contaminations and pests.
- Sous chef. The second-in-command in a kitchen. Sous chefs help the executive chef with menu planning, executing kitchen duties, ingredient procurement, and employee management. They handle most of the management tasks to help the executive chef focus on preparing the dishes. A sous chef will step in when the head chef is out of commission.
- Head chef. The head of the kitchen crew, otherwise known as the executive chef. A head chef is responsible for the curation of a restaurant's menu and recipe development. They work closely with everyone in the kitchen and ensure that each station is performing as assigned. An executive chef is also responsible for ensuring that each dish is consistent in terms of quality and safety.
Depending on the size of a food service business, there may be more jobs in the kitchen. In some restaurants, a separate quality or food manager is assigned to oversee the entire kitchen operations and arrange staff schedules. In addition, some businesses combine roles for more efficiency and lesser miscommunication.
Main responsibilities of a back-of-house team member
As mentioned, the back-of-house section consists of a diverse set of workers that aim to produce high-quality and safe food products. The main objective of the back-of-house team is to maintain a clean working environment and satisfy customer orders while protecting them from foodborne illnesses.
Specifically, some of the key responsibilities of a back-of-house team member include the following:
- Receive food orders.
- Prepare dishes according to customer orders.
- Procure and receive ingredients for dishes.
- Manage inventory and equipment supplies.
- Cook dishes to recommended and safe temperatures.
- Clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces and equipment before and after the start of operations.
- Manage and coordinate between sections to produce a cohesive dish.
- Manage waste in the kitchen.
- Organize all food and cleaning supplies.
- Conduct regular in-house audits.
- Follow and comply with food safety standards.
The responsibilities of a back-of-house employee can further extend along with the size of the food service business. Back-of-house employees require a certain level of food safety training to become fit for operations. This is a critical element to ensure the safety and quality of food and service.
Use our free checklist for food safety in restaurant operations to ensure that back-of-house employees perform their operational tasks on time and correctly.
What are the common back-of-house locations?
The back-of-house section of a restaurant consists of several locations. These locations are dedicated to storing supplies and preparing food for service. The size of a restaurant will determine the complexity of locations in the establishment.
Some of the common back-of-the-house areas include the following:
- Storage area. This area is where the food supplies, both raw and ready-to-eat foods, are stored. The storage area includes walk-in freezers, dry storage, a cleaning supplies room, a liquor room, and an equipment room.
- Employee breakroom. This section of a restaurant is where employees can take a break, change clothes, get meals, and store personal belongings. This is also where the employee restrooms are located.
- Kitchen. The kitchen is the core of the back of the house. It is where the dishes in a restaurant are prepared, cooked, and plated for service. The kitchen includes workstations that have a cooking area, preparation tables, and tables for small equipment.
- Dishwashing area. The dishwashing area is often an extension of the kitchen. This area has the important 3-compartment sink used for cleaning and sanitizing utensils and tools and a handwashing sink. Remember that these sink compartments must not be used for cleaning mops and other cleaning tools. A separate utility sink must be provided.
- Loading dock/ receiving area. The receiving area is where the restaurant inspects and accepts food ingredients from suppliers. It is important to regulate this area as it is open to the outside vicinity of the back of house. It can become an entry point for pests when not properly monitored.
- Maintenance area. Larger restaurants have a dedicated maintenance area. This room is where faulty equipment and tools are serviced and repaired. In some cases, the maintenance area is also used as a storage area for the tools.
- Manager's office.Although technically not a part of the kitchen, the manager's office is usually situated at the back of the house section. This area is where the manager can do administrative tasks, do accounting, and hold meetings.
- Waste management area. Detached from the kitchen, the waste management area is still part of the back of the house. This area is where all of the by-products or food waste go to. Proper waste management is required for every food business as a basic food safety standard.
The commercial layout of the back of the house can affect the flow and efficiency of the work. Different layouts can be implemented depending on which aspect of service is most important for a successful restaurant.
The back-of-house section of a food service business must maintain a seamless employee communication system to ensure that all food safety tasks are properly done. This objective can be achieved if the layout of the back of the house emphasizes efficiency.
How to maintain food safety in the back of the house?
The majority of the food safety operations happen in the back-of-the-house area. Because this section is where the food is being prepared and cooked, it must stay clean, sanitized, and free of any potential food safety hazard at all times.
Follow these basic food safety guidelines to keep your back-of-house operations safe from food safety hazards:
- Regularly clean and sanitize all food contact surfaces, walls, and floors.
- Practice regular and correct handwashing.
- Store foods properly. Keep foods in airtight containers inside the refrigerator.
- Maintain consistent control of storage temperature.
- Cook foods to the recommended internal temperature.
- Use separate tools and utensils for preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods.
- Thaw foods using the approved thawing methods.
- Wear the proper dress code for BOH staff. No jewelry, except a plain wedding band, is allowed to be worn in the kitchen.
- Manage food waste.
- Implement a comprehensive food safety plan.
One of the best ways to prevent poor food safety is to monitor everyday operations consistently. Ensure that every food safety task for your BOH is fulfilled using our smart Food Safety Management System at FoodDocs.
Our smart software can automatically generate customizable monitoring logs and checklists that are equipped with instructions. Employees can log important information about food safety at any time. In addition, our system features a smart notification program that will alert food handlers whenever a task is due.
Store all food safety documents in one place with the cloud storage area provided for your team.
FOH - Front of House
The front-of-house section of a restaurant is what greets customers. Starting from the area where diners enter up to the counter is the front of the house. This section focuses on customer service and coordinating customer orders and requests to kitchen staff or the back of the house.
The team in charge of the dining area is responsible for regulating the orders that the back end of the restaurant needs to cater to. They have direct contact with guests. They also need to attend to the needs of customers in the area, resolve conflicts, and maintain the cleanliness of the dining area.
Read more about the responsibilities and areas of the front of the house section with the following topics:
FOH restaurant meaning
FOH, or restaurant front of house, refers to a restaurant's public-facing section. It is where customers are greeted and served. It includes the dining area, bar, host stand, counter, salad area, and other areas where customers and servers interact.
The front-of-house restaurant department sets the mood and ambiance of a food service business. It gives the customers a much-needed first impression. The design of the front-of-the-house restaurant section can affect the mood and satisfaction of customers.
The FOH hires staff that specializes in customer relations with basic knowledge of food safety. The employees stationed in the front of the house will face customers and use their communication skills to attract them and purchase your products.
Employees stationed at the front of the house section are responsible for entertaining the guests and ensuring that their service needs are taken care of. They are the employees with direct contact with customers. Depending on the size and overall services of the restaurant, front-of-house positions and housekeeping staff may vary.
Some common front-of-the-house jobs include the following:
- Host. A host is responsible for greeting guests and managing seating arrangements and reservations. They are in charge of seating guests and are required to have excellent customer service skills. The host ensures that each section of the restaurant is well-distributed for efficiency. They are also responsible for taking reservations through phone calls, answering their inquiries, and providing menus to the guests as they enter. The host or desk agent is also responsible for regulating the turnover rate of guests.
- Waiters. The waiters are vital bridges between the front and back of the house sections. Waiters and waitresses may be part of welcoming guests and directing them to their seats. They take and communicate orders from the customers to the kitchen. In addition, waiters are mandated to disclose advisories to the customers to protect them from potential food safety issues. Waiters must be knowledgeable about the components of the menu options to be able to answer technical questions and upsell specialities.
- Food runner. A food runner is basically a dining room staff who delivers an order of food from the kitchen counter to the customer's table. They are tasked to ensure that the food is presented correctly and provided on time. Food runners improve the efficiency of the order cycle.
- Busser. A busser is mainly in charge of ensuring that every table is cleaned and sanitized before and after every customer meal. They collect empty and dirty dishes and bring them to the dishwashing staff, reset tables, and assist servers in maintaining the cleanliness of the dining area.
- Bartender. This employee is present in restaurants with a bar section. Bartenders are in charge of preparing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to the customers. Bartenders are considered direct food handlers; therefore, they need an adequate level of training in food safety. Bartenders must also be knowledgeable of laws regarding serving alcohol. They are responsible for managing beverage supplies and cleaning glassware in their section.
- Cashier. Cashiers are responsible for processing customer payments, manning the point of sale system (POS), and assisting in other payment transactions.
- Floor manager. The front-of-house section can have one or two types of managers. One is the general manager, who oversees both sections of the restaurant and its operations. The other is the front-of-house manager, who is basically responsible for managing the dining area. Managers are mainly tasked to ensure proper inventory management, staffing, employee scheduling, customer service, and food safety compliance at all times. They also act as shift managers.
Bigger restaurants also have positions such as sommeliers in addition to bartenders. These employees are knowledgeable about wines and perfect pairings. In some restaurants, positions are consolidated, and the responsibilities are combined for a shorter list of staff. A good FOH team and attentive staff are keys to excellent customer service.
Recent developments in the restaurant industry have also introduced the use of restaurant software programs that can automate front-of-house operations. As an aid to hosts, table management software programs can be used to arrange seating and reservations intuitively.
One of the most useful smart software for maintaining food safety is FoodDocs' smart Food Safety Management System. Using our smart software, managers can easily oversee operations and verify if hygiene and food safety procedures are completed correctly and promptly. All it takes is a glance at our mobile application, and you will get a clear overview of your operations across different branches. Save at least 20% of your time from constantly managing your entire team onsite.
Main responsibilities of a front-of-house staff
The front-of-house staff directly interacts with customers. The main responsibilities of this restaurant team are to provide customer service and communicate their orders to the back of the house.
Here are some of the main responsibilities of a front-of-house team member:
- Greet and welcome guests.
- Take reservations onsite or through phone calls.
- Answer customer inquiries.
- Introduce the menu to the customers.
- Seat and arrange customers while considering efficiency.
- Communicate orders with the kitchen.
- Serve the prepared dishes and drinks to customers.
- Maintain cleanliness of guest rooms and the dining area.
- Reset tables and sanitize them before the next service.
- Deliver dirty dishes to the back-of-house section.
- Remind customers of allergens and other potential food safety risks.
- Handle customer complaints.
- Upsell special dishes.
- Gather customer feedback.
- Handle payment transactions.
ach responsibility may be shared or directly assigned to a specific FOH staff and section of the restaurant. Managing every responsibility and employee is vital to ensure uninterrupted service and great customer experience.
What are the common front-of-house locations?
The front of the house consists of several sections that make up the dining area. This section is often fashioned to match the overall theme of the restaurant business and create a welcoming vibe for guests. For example, if the restaurant mainly caters to party-goers, then you can expect a bar.
Here are some common front-of-house physical locations:
- Reception area/ Host station. This area is where guests are welcomed. It consists of the host/ hostess station, where you will be assisted in checking reservations and getting introductions. The host staff will direct you to the interior of the food restaurant once greeted. This area is also sometimes used as a waiting section when the restaurant is at full capacity.
- Dining area. The dining area is the main section of the front-of-house department. This is where customers select their food, interact with the staff, and dine. The dining area consists of tables, booths, and chairs for accommodating customers. These areas are divided and assigned servers for more efficient operations.
- Waiting area. For bigger dining establishments, a waiting area is provided for customers waiting to be seated. This location is usually the connection between the host section and the dining area. The location consists of chairs and other tools that will help entertain the customers.
- Restrooms. Front-of-the-house sections are equipped with restrooms dedicated to the customers. This area is where customers wash their hands or use the toilet.
- Salad bar. Themed restaurants often have a salad bar where freshly cut vegetables, fruits, and cold cuts of meat are displayed in chilled containers. One or two servers often regulate this area to direct customers in retrieving ingredients and protect the food from being contaminated.
- Bar. This area is where guests can enjoy cocktails. The bar section is also where alcoholic beverages are prepared for dine-in customers. The area has separate stools and a tabletop for bar customers.
- Outdoor area. In some establishments, al fresco or outdoor dining areas are provided. This location is the exterior of the restaurant, where outdoor furniture is provided for open-air dining. Outdoor seating is often popular for nearby establishments that allow smoking.
Employees must properly manage each location in the front of the house section. The efficiency of the whole restaurant operation will depend on how the front of the house takes in and manages customer orders and foot traffic.
How to maintain food safety in the front of the house?
Food safety tasks for the front of the house are quite different from the BOH. As restaurant employees do not have direct contact with the food other than when serving them, the tasks focus more on proper hygiene.
Here are a few food safety rules and guidelines for the front-of-house section of your restaurant:
- Inform consumers of potential allergens in the food they order.
- Maintain strict cleanliness and sanitation in the dining area.
- Perform a scheduled deep cleaning.
- Monitor food temperatures for salad bars.
- Report any broken tables, chairs, or fixtures to avoid potential physical contamination.
- Keep hands clean at all times. Practice proper handwashing.
- Wear proper dress code for FOH staff.
- Immediately report cases of food safety issues.
Guidelines for food safety in the FOH department will help ensure that the food that customers receive is safe and will not cause foodborne illness. Food safety is part of exemplary customer service and will encourage customers to purchase from your store again.
Managing food safety for front and back of house operations using FoodDocs
Each section of a food service business consists of very different daily operations, skills, equipment, and other necessities. To come up with a functional and efficient food business, all of these sections must seamlessly work together to produce high-quality and safe products.
One of the main tasks of a restaurant is to maintain high-quality foods and services in compliance with food safety regulations. A compliant food business will surely gain popularity and traction from customers.
That being said, food safety is not the only task of a food manager. You are also in charge of strategizing the business aspects of your restaurant. To help you consistently maintain food safety compliance, use our intuitive solutions.
At FoodDocs, we combined the efficiency of technology and the essence of food safety monitoring tasks. With our smart Food Safety Management System, you can ensure that all food safety tasks are done promptly and correctly.
Use these features to improve your operational efficiency:
- Get automatically generated monitoring logs and checklists based on your restaurant operations. You can use these logs to ensure that every operation is up to standard. The logs are generated based on your answers to our sign-up questions and can be further customized to tailor your restaurant operations. Some of the monitoring logs and checklists that you can get include:
- Cooking temperature log
Cooking temperature log from FoodDocs
- Fridge temperature log
- Receiving chilled goods log
- Master sanitation schedule
Master sanitation schedule from FoodDocs
- Employee hygiene checklist
- Each monitoring log comes with detailed instructions to guide food handlers. You can also upload your version of the instructions for a more personalized touch.
- These monitoring logs also feature a prefill solution. Our system can automatically fill the logs based on your previous data entries. Employees will only have to verify if the entry is correct. This feature can help you save time and avoid interruptions during operations.
- Using our smart app, employees can receive intuitive alerts through our smart notification system. This feature was designed to remind food handlers of tasks that need to be done on time.
In addition to features designed to help employees fulfill food safety tasks, our smart Food Safety Management Systemcan also help managers. Our smart software provides features that can help improve restaurant management efficiency:
- Get a quick overview of your food safety operations and save at least 20% of your time on management with our real-time dashboard. You can use this feature to immediately identify underperforming or non-compliant sections of your restaurant and address them right away.
Real-time dashboard from FoodDocs
- Enter all of your recipes and create your digital Recipe Book using our software. This feature can help you compile all of your recipes and tag which ones contain allergens. Your Recipe Book will also reflect an allergen matrix to help you protect consumers using the right information.
- Store and manage all certificates, digital logs, and other food safety documents in one place using our cloud storage area.
Operate and manage both FOH and BOH at a more efficient rate using our smart software. In just approximately 15 minutes, you can get a comprehensive digital Food Safety Management System.
Our software is powered by artificial intelligence and a machine-learning program. It uses information from businesses with similar operations as yours to create suggestions on the important logs and checklists for you. What makes our system so convenient and effective is that you can customize every log to fit your operations better.
Start monitoring your operations and maintaining compliance by using our free 14-day trial now.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you have more questions about FOH and BOH sections? We gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic and answered them for you.
What is the back of the house?
"Back of the house" refers to the non-public areas of a restaurant or hospitality establishment, such as the kitchen, food storage areas, and offices. This area is where food is received, prepared, and cooked for the customers.
What is a BOH position?
A "BOH position" is a job that involves working in the back of the house, such as a chef, line cook, or dishwasher.
What does BOH mean?
"Back of the house" generally refers to the functional areas of a restaurant where food is prepared, cooked, and stored, as well as administrative functions.
What is front of house in a restaurant?
The front of house of a restaurant refers to the public-facing areas of a restaurant, such as the dining room, bar, and host stand. This area is where customers are received, seated, and served.
What is FOH staff?
FOH staff or front of house staff refers to the employees who work in the front of the house, such as servers, bartenders, waiters, bussers, and hosts/hostesses.