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Front of House vs. Back of House

Is the divide for real? Anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant knows about that eternal divide between kitchen and service. No, not the pass. It’s more of an invisible barrier, a sense of two worlds colliding, almost like they’re two rival sports teams—or even armies on opposite sides of the battlefield. Yes, Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) do have separate work areas and completely different jobs, but they still have plenty in common. And they’re all working in the hospitality industry—you’d think they’d be hospitable to each other, right?

So what’s the deal?

Service is out there collecting orders like fiends, but they’re just not putting them in. Back in the kitchen, everyone’s standing around wondering why it’s so quiet. The restaurant’s full—isn’t anyone ordering anything? And then suddenly the dam bursts, and the machine’s rattling off one ticket after another non-stop. Great, just great. The cooks LOVE it when all the waiters dump a big stack of orders on them at once. Really. Oh, but just you wait, Service. You’ll get yours, too. Ever carried a plate that was just sitting on top of a gas flame? Or faced down a table of customers demanding to know why the other table got their food first? Clearly, nothing good will come of this restaurant guerrilla warfare. (Unless you count first-degree burns and angry customers as “good”, which we… don’t.)

A way out.

This is the part in the conversation where each group says the other is totally lazy, that “all they ever do” is carry trays / chop vegetables / whatever. They all know it isn’t actually true, but they still keep up this us-and-them mentality. Maybe it’s time for everyone to kiss and make up? We’ve got a few ideas…

1) Even if it’s hard: Share tips

FOH gets the tips, obviously, since they’re out front. But let’s be honest here: why are customers tipping you? Because you’re so friendly and charming, you say? Okay. But it’s also because you served them such fabulous food. And where did that fabulous food come from? Exactly. From the back.

2) Grab a drink

It was a long evening, but you’re not tired. So go out for a nightcap. That’s right, together. Chat, have a smoke, whatever. Spend all that (shared) tip money. And remember, what happens in the restaurant, stays in the restaurant. Work hard, party harder!

3) Be nice

People on both sides of the pass are working crazy hard, hopped up on adrenaline, but that’s still no excuse for shouting, whining, or sniping at each other. Obviously, we all have bad days, but if you want to be treated like a professional, you have to act professional—and being friendly is part of that.

4) Have a proper meal

Food nourishes body and soul, and that goes for restaurant staff, too. So be sure you (that’s you, restaurant owners) factor in enough time and enough ingredients that the whole team can have a meal together. Then FOH will appreciate all the blood, sweat, and tears that BOH puts into their creations. (Figuratively. We hope.)

5) Remember: you need each other

A service team with nothing to carry and a kitchen nothing’s getting carried out of. Seems like a bad combination. So suck it up and work together, and your restaurant will flourish, because your customers will sense the friendly atmosphere, and they’ll reward you with better tips. Which brings us back to that whole tip-sharing thing…

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