Front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH) are lingo for the dining room (FOH) and kitchen (BOH) of a restaurant. An FOH manager supervises staff members who are the public face of the restaurant like servers and bartenders. A BOH manager works with the restaurant’s kitchen staff, supervising the cooks and dishwashing team.
FOH and BOH are used interchangeably to refer both to the physical area of the restaurant as well as the staff who work in each area. The abbreviations FOH and BOH are used primarily in writing as people use the full phrases “front of house” and “back of house” when speaking. On a daily basis, FOH manager and BOH manager tasks vary widely, but supervisors in both areas must be cost-conscious and equipped with excellent leadership skills.
How FOH Management Works
The front of house includes the dining room, bar, entrance, waiting areas, and restrooms. FOH managers also take the lead on managing and maintaining the point-of-sale (POS) system. FOH managers may also assist the BOH managers with administrative tasks, such as employee onboarding or data entry. Managing operations at the front of house requires a team to keep things running smoothly.
The general manager (GM) is the top-most manager in the restaurant. In some restaurants, the owner acts as the GM. A GM must have a grasp of every aspect of the business. He or she dictates budgets, sales and labor forecasts, negotiates and signs vendor agreements, and oversees the hiring of all staff in the FOH and BOH, including other managers. Nationwide, salaries for GMs range from $50,000 to $80,000, with the highest salaries in metropolitan areas like New York City and Los Angeles.
Assistant General Manager
The assistant general manager (AGM) supports the GM in his or her plans for the business. An AGM may take the lead on creating the FOH staff schedule, performing inventory, creating training systems, or figuring performance metrics to measure the business. Smaller restaurants may not use this title as typically an AGM is considered to be in line to become a GM. Annual AGM salaries range from $36,000 to $63,000.
Floor Manager/Dining Room Manager
Floor managers, sometimes referred to as dining room managers, fill in the hours when GMs and AGMs are not available. Floor managers focus on the service area of the restaurant, commonly referred to as “the floor.” Floor managers deal primarily with staff and customer issues that arise during service. A restaurant may employ one to three floor managers, depending on the restaurant size and its hours of operation. In restaurants that do not employ AGMs, floor managers cover the tasks an AGM would. A typical floor manager earns $25,000 to $43,000 annually.
Every restaurant is different, however. Depending on the style of service and the hours of operation, a restaurant may not follow a traditional GM-AGM-floor manager staffing plan. They may instead opt for roles such as:
- Bar manager: Restaurants with a comprehensive beverage program may employ a bar manager to oversee liquor and wine orders, train bar staff, and create the bar schedule. A bar manager typically reports directly to the GM and may replace a floor manager role. A typical bar manager salary is $50,000 to $67,000 annually.
- Events manager: Restaurants with a lot of private dining business may employ a manager to handle these contracts and arrangements. A portion of an events manager’s salary typically comes from sales commissions. The average events manager earns between $30,000 to $50,000 base pay with commissions ranging from $700 to $10,000 per year.
- Shift supervisor: Small or casual restaurants may employ shift supervisors rather than floor managers. Shift supervisors are basically floor managers that are paid hourly wages rather than a salary. A typical shift supervisor earns $24,000 to $44,000 annually.
While each of these FOH manager roles has a different area of overall focus, they all share the ability to act as the manager on duty (MOD) for a service shift. The MOD is the quarterback of the shift they work—commonly referred to as their “daypart.” The MOD working the breakfast shift, or morning daypart, makes the final call on how to handle staff and customer issues that arise in the morning while the manager working the evening daypart handles dinner issues. Other managers could be in the restaurant performing administrative tasks during those times, but the MOD is the manager who is ultimately responsible for keeping service running smoothly.
Typical FOH Manager Daily Tasks
FOH management tasks break down into two main categories: administrative tasks and floor work. Finding a balance between these two areas is the secret to success in restaurant management.
In addition to performing administrative and floor tasks, an FOH manager is expected to be the public face of the restaurant. He or she should be polished, professional, and gracious at all times to customers as well as supportive, motivating, and mentoring staff members. Some FOH managers have degrees in hospitality management, but most entered the restaurant industry as hosts or servers and worked their way up to management.
FOH Management Administrative Tasks
FOH management has a large administrative load, including the usual tasks of writing FOH employee schedules, organizing staff training, and handling large party contracts. Keeping the POS up to date with specials and current pricing is also an FOH responsibility. If the chef has designed a special menu for Thanksgiving or Mother’s Day, the FOH managers enter it into the POS.
In addition to these tasks, the FOH managers are responsible for:
- Managing cash: The FOH management team is responsible for all the cash in the building. They build and assign cash tills for bartenders and cashiers, make change, prepare cash drops, and balance the safe. If the cash receipts don’t add up at the end of a shift, the FOH manager is the one who must account for it.
- Placing orders: Ordering beverage and paper supplies typically falls to the FOH team. AGMs and floor managers may prepare the order, but the GM gives final approval before most orders are placed or invoices are paid.
- Checking social media accounts: Large restaurants may have a dedicated marketing department, but for restaurants that don’t, FOH managers are responsible for monitoring social media accounts and responding when necessary.
- Processing deliveries & invoices: All FOH managers should know standard operating procedures for checking in deliveries and coding invoices when they arrive.
- Inventorying beverages & paper supplies: At the beginning or end of a shift, FOH managers note the stock levels of beverages and paper supplies like POS thermal paper, toilet paper, and to-go supplies so they can be reordered efficiently.
- Pulling reports: At the end of a shift, the MOD prints sales and labor reports from the POS to track sales and costs for their daypart.
- Completing manager logs: At the end of every shift, the MOD completes the portion of the daily manager log that is relevant to the hours he or she worked. This usually includes the sales and labor figures for their respective daypart as well as notes about any customer service or staff issues that arose during their MOD stint.
The most sensitive administrative tasks are the purview of the GM. He or she handles the direct interactions with the restaurant’s bank, such as making cash deposits. The GM also oversees marketing plans and decides on any expenditures for ads as well as budgets for repairs or new equipment purchases.
FOH Management Work on the Floor
An FOH manager’s work on the floor begins with a full walkthrough of all the service spaces. This is usually done before the restaurant is open for the day. The next step on a daily basis is generally greeting service staff members as they arrive on-site and holding a preshift meeting that covers any information that will influence the day’s operations. This includes a summary of large parties, menu changes, and usually a question-and-answer session with the team to ensure that everyone is on the same page before service begins.
Once guests start to arrive, an FOH manager should be on the floor providing:
- An organized service plan: An FOH MOD assigns workstations to the service staff to ensure even coverage across the restaurant. Throughout the shift, he or she monitors shifts in guest traffic and directs staff to adjust as needed.
- Customer service: The FOH MOD is the front line of customer service. If there are any issues with service, the FOH MOD handles them personally.
- Employee appraisal: An effective FOH manager keeps an eye on staff performance during service to ensure that they are working safely and adhering to health regulations and restaurant-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs). When corrections are necessary, the MOD handles them in the moment gently.
- Quality control: During service, an FOH manager should have eyes on all food and beverage on the floor, ensuring that it is up to standard.
- Support to the service staff: During active service, an FOH MOD helps wherever needed, whether that is seating tables, ringing in delivery orders, pouring drinks, running food from the kitchen, or resetting tables.
- Communication with the kitchen: The FOH MOD is a major point of communication between the FOH and BOH. If a customer has a complex request of the kitchen, this is usually handled personally by the FOH MOD.
- POS support: The FOH MOD handles any issues that arise with the POS. If the system goes offline, a printer stops working, or the kitchen runs out of a dish, the FOH MOD handles it.
In most cases, restaurant managers in the FOH spend more of their work hours on the floor than in the office. The best FOH managers also take care to maintain an upbeat attitude and an unruffled appearance while performing all of their duties. Restaurant management shifts tend to be lengthy, ranging from 10 to 15 hours a day. Typically, the busiest times in a restaurant are the hours that other businesses are closed: nights, weekends, and holidays. These are all qualities and requirements to keep in mind when creating a restaurant manager job description to hire for your restaurant.
How BOH Management Works
Management in the BOH breaks down into two main categories: administrative tasks and work on the line. BOH administrative tasks include scheduling, ordering, and costing recipes. The line is the restaurant term for the line of stoves, ovens, and prep tables where the restaurant’s dishes are prepared and cooked.
Each kitchen workstation on the line is named after the style of cooking it performs, such as grill, fry, or saute, not the dishes that are prepared on it. As a cook works his or her way from basic workstations like the cold pantry where salads and desserts are plated to more complex stations like the grill, they are said to be working their way “up the line.”
BOH Management in an FSR
Full-service restaurant (FSR) kitchens operate with the chain of command listed in the brigade de cuisine, which is a system that was created in France after World War I. The brigade is structured like a military unit where the lowest entry level is the dishwasher and the highest is the executive chef.
Some BOH managers have culinary degrees, although working your way up the line through the brigade system is the traditional route to BOH management in FSRs. Regardless of their operational duties, BOH managers are traditionally all addressed by the title chef. BOH managers in an FSR share their titles with the top-most tiers of the brigade de cuisine, and they typically manage all levels of BOH food prep cooks.
The executive chef oversees the entire BOH operation. Executive chefs design the menu, decide which food vendors to purchase from, and hire, manage, train, and develop other cooks. An executive chef has excellent knowledge of cuisine as well as food and labor costs. The executive chef is responsible for keeping BOH costs and expenses in line with budget targets. Executive chef salaries range from $45,000 to $90,000.
Pronounced like “sue,” this title means “under chef.” A sous chef is the executive chef’s second in command. Like AGMs at the FOH, sous chefs are typically apprenticing to become executive chefs. A sous chef may be responsible for placing orders and training other cooks as well as learning and maintaining the restaurant’s standard of food presentation. Most kitchens have at least two sous chefs who alternately supervise day and night shifts while large operations may have several sous chefs with different areas of focus, such as pastry or catering. Salaries for sous chefs range from $35,000 to $70,000 annually.
Line cooks are defined by the workstation that they oversee, such as grill or saute. They are responsible for stocking their station and knowing how to prepare all the dishes that come from that station. Line cooks supervise the work of prep cooks that break down raw ingredients and prepare basic recipes like chicken stock. Line cooks report to sous chefs and, ultimately, the executive chef. Annual line cook salaries range from $20,000 to $34,000.
BOH Management in a QSR
Quick service restaurants (QSR) preparing simple fare like burger joints or bakeries generally do not need executive chefs or sous chefs. Instead, these operations employ kitchen managers (KM) or cooks with a specialized skill set to supervise prep cooks and line cooks.
KMs don’t have the advanced culinary training that chefs have and tend to work in kitchens where high-level culinary knowledge is not required. KMs are excellent at learning preestablished standards—as in a franchise operation—and following procedures. They can train staff in cooking basics and enforce company quality standards. As a rule, KMs are production-focused and highly efficient. Their annual salary typically ranges from around $38,000 to $66,000.
Alternatively, bakeries employ pastry chefs and bakers with experience in the unique preparation method for bread, tarts, and pastries. Bakeries may also staff KMs to keep the operation running smoothly. In some cases, however, a head pastry chef acts as the KM. In large bakery operations, a pastry chef may be given the title executive pastry chef.
Typical BOH Manager Daily Tasks
In an FSR or QSR, the BOH managerial functions are similar. The leadership team is responsible for maintaining the food inventory and supervising the staff that is involved in storing, preparing, and cooking that food.
BOH Management Administrative Tasks
BOH managers are responsible for scheduling the hourly staff in the BOH, placing orders for food products, and completing the kitchen portion of daily management logs. Additionally, BOH managers must track recipes and inventory. Every kitchen is different and may require more or less of these basic BOH management tasks.
- Choose vendors: This task falls to the executive chef. If a restaurant does not have an executive chef, choosing food vendors falls to the restaurant owner.
- Place food orders: Most kitchens have a system to log supply requests from all of the cooks throughout the day. Executive chefs, sous chefs, or kitchen managers then organize the orders and place them with the appropriate vendors.
- Create recipes: Executive chefs either create all the recipes that are served or approve recipes that sous chefs and line cooks propose.
- Log recipes: Approved recipes are written down, assessed for costs, and entered in the restaurant’s recipe book and POS. Depending on the volume of a restaurant kitchen, some chefs rely on FOH managers to enter recipes into the POS or inventory management system.
- Schedule prep tasks: Working with perishable products requires thoughtfully scheduling how that product is used. For dishes to be prepared quickly during a lunch or dinner service, some of the cooking must be performed ahead of time by prep cooks. Executive chefs, sous chefs, or kitchen managers create a schedule for these tasks to be completed based on the expected sales volume.
- Track inventory: Sous chefs and line cooks assist with physical inventory counts, but the executive chef or kitchen managers are ultimately responsible for calculating how the inventory impacts the restaurant’s food cost.
BOH Management Work on the Line
All BOH managers walk through the kitchen stations daily, taste-testing products for quality control, checking in deliveries, and cooking the most complicated menu items. In the busiest restaurants, the highest level BOH manager slides to the role of expediter during busy points in service.
When expediting, a BOH manager stands at “the pass,” which is the counter in the kitchen where finished dishes are passed from the kitchen to the waitstaff. He or she calls out orders as they come into the kitchen, ensures that dishes ordered for the same table are ready at the same time, and checks every dish before it leaves the kitchen to confirm that it has been prepared correctly and up to the restaurant’s standards.
In addition to cooking or expediting from the line, a BOH manager:
- Quality checks prepared ingredients: This includes visual checks for spoilage, temperature checks to ensure items are stored at the correct temperature, and taste tests to ensure base recipes have been prepared correctly.
- Checks stations: BOH managers check each kitchen workstation to ensure they are stocked with the necessary supplies and that their equipment is working correctly.
- Coaches staff: Throughout a shift, BOH managers provide training opportunities continuously and correct the performance of their team in a positive, motivating way.
- Works a station: BOH managers typically work the most complex station on the lone throughout service. In most restaurants, this is the saute station, where most dishes are prepared in the shortest amount of time.
- Communicates with FOH: In the heat of service, the BOH manager communicates any specials, menu changes, or operational needs to the FOH manager.
FOH and BOH Management Tools and Costs
Managers on both sides of the pass work constantly to plan for service needs, calculate the costs associated with the restaurant operation, and update systems accordingly. Planning, calculating, and updating are all tasks that take up a lot of managerial bandwidth. To help streamline the workload, savvy restaurant owners invest in technology to automate the most repetitive managerial tasks and develop operational systems to support service.
A Well-integrated POS
A well-integrated POS that has employee management and inventory tracking functions will save your managers several hours every week. Time saved by using smart technological solutions is time that can be spent designing fresh menu ideas, training staff, or interacting with customers.
Both FOH and BOH managers work with different aspects of the POS. The FOH staff input orders and process payments on the POS. The kitchen team receives those orders via kitchen printers or kitchen display screens (KDS). If your restaurant is currently operating without a POS, getting one will produce the most dramatic shifts in your managers’ efficiency. There are great options at every price point:
- Square for Restaurants: Square Pricing starts at $60 per month for a single terminal. Square operates on iPads and offers loads of third-party integrations for inventory management and staff scheduling. Square is a good fit for restaurants with tight budgets that want the ability to customize their POS package.
- Toast POS: Toast recently added payroll and employee management to its baseline offering, which also includes inventory management. This system starts at $79 per terminal per month, but Toast specializes in restaurants and has a sterling customer service reputation. This is an excellent all-round POS for any type of restaurant.
- Revel Restaurant POS: Revel is $99 per month, per terminal. It is highly customizable, and users like its online delivery functions. The price may be higher than some other options—and Revel requires a three-year contract—but for restaurants that rely on delivery orders for their business, Revel is a terrific choice.
If your restaurant already uses a POS, some great third-party integrations can boost its functionality. Scheduling and employee management software like 7shifts and Homebase work with a broad spectrum of the most popular restaurant POS systems. They both also offer free versions that allow restaurants to test drive the app before committing to higher-level memberships. For inventory management, an app like MarketMan ($149 per month) can be a great option. You can also find restaurant payroll software that integrates with certain POS systems.
An Efficient System for Expediting
Technology is not the only way to streamline your operation. Operational systems designed to streamline communication between the FOH and BOH help your team meet customer service goals. A solid plan for expediting the food from the kitchen to the dining room is a must for any busy restaurant, regardless of service style.
Some restaurants split expediting duties between the FOH and BOH management teams. Most full-service restaurants staff an FOH hourly employee to act as the sole expeditor, or “expo” for the restaurant. During big parties or busy points in service, however, a BOH manager usually expedites to the cooks from the kitchen side of the pass while an FOH manager stands on the dining room side. In this arrangement, the BOH manager calls out orders as they arrive to cooks on the kitchen side while the FOH manager organizes the FOH staff to deliver the prepared plates to the correct tables.
The expo station is the main point of contact between the BOH and FOH when the restaurant is actively serving guests. Communication such as which dishes are no longer available come from the BOH to the FOH through the expo and guest modification requests flow from the FOH to the BOH. In a noisy, hot space like a restaurant kitchen, an efficient plan for expediting saves a lot of headaches.
Regular Manager Meetings
Restaurant managers deal with stressful situations on a daily basis. In the course of every work shift, they are challenged with unexpected situations like being short-staffed, interacting with unhappy customers, or dealing with pop-up inspections from local health and fire departments. They are also expected to meet sales and cost targets, maintain a positive image for the restaurant, and ensure the business complies with multiple overlapping government regulations.
To keep the entire operational team on the same page with these shared tasks, the managers in the kitchen and dining room hold manager meetings. These usually take place once a week on a day when business is slow. Manager meetings allow FOH and BOH teams to consider recent restaurant inspections, negative guest experiences, and cost and labor performance and strategize solutions. They also provide a forum to share information about operational or menu changes and discuss marketing plans that may involve discounts or promotions.
Trends Affecting FOH & BOH Management
The job of a restaurant manager has shifted dramatically during the past 10 years as technology has increasingly migrated into the world of restaurant operations. Upticks in disruptive technologies like third-party delivery platforms, shifts in social media engagement, and gig economy work cannibalizing the traditional restaurant labor pool create unique challenges for restaurant management. The trends below are expected to change the game for restaurants in the years ahead:
- Growing consumer demand for delivery: Between now and 2023, restaurant delivery sales are projected to grow at three times the rate of on-premise sales. Even full-service restaurants in competitive markets will need to decide whether to work with third-party delivery platforms or create an in-house delivery strategy.
- Staffing shortages: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the turnover rate in US foodservice establishments has been steadily rising since 2014. The latest numbers show an industrywide turnover rate of 75%. Restaurant managers will need to focus on retaining their best staff.
- Shifting consumer definition of “healthy” food: Recent studies show that increasingly, health-conscious customers are looking for food and beverage options that are sustainable, non-genetically modified organism (GMO), fair trade, and cage-free, over traditional signifiers like “low fat” and “low carb.” Managers in the BOH and FOH will need to offer products that reflect these tastes at a competitive price.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About FOH & BOH Management
What does FOH and BOH mean?
FOH and BOH are acronyms for “front of house” and “back of house” in the restaurant industry. The front of house refers to all the areas of the restaurant that are accessible to the public, such as the dining room, bar, and restrooms. The back of house is all the nonpublic areas like the kitchen storage rooms and back office. These acronyms are only used in writing. When speaking, restaurant workers use the full phrases “front of house” and “back of house.”
These terms are also used to describe the employees that work in those areas. FOH staff are the public-facing workers like hosts, baristas, bartenders, cashiers, servers, and bussers. BOH staff members are cooks and dishwashers.
What qualifications does a restaurant manager need?
Most restaurant managers in either the FOH have worked their way up from entry-level positions in the hospitality industry. Some FOH managers have culinary degrees or hospitality management degrees, but these are not the norm. Across the restaurant industry, relevant work experience is given the same consideration as a professional degree.
In restaurants with prestigious wine and spirits programs, individuals with wine certifications from organizations like the Court of Master Sommeliers may be given an edge. Hotels and large restaurant groups like Darden and Hillstone tend to employ more hospitality management graduates than independently owned restaurants.
Do chefs need a culinary degree?
A culinary degree may allow cooks to enter a kitchen in a slightly elevated role. For example, culinary school graduates may begin their restaurant career as the lowest level line cook rather than a dishwasher or prep cook. In most cases, however, a culinary degree is not necessary to pursue a career as a chef. According to the National Restaurant Association, 90% of restaurant chefs began their culinary careers in an entry-level position.
Managing a restaurant effectively requires the collaboration and cooperation of managers in the kitchen and dining room. FOH managers focus on the public-facing areas of the operations while BOH managers supervise work in the kitchen and behind the scenes. Both teams work to train staff, manage costs, and increase sales effectively to keep the restaurant profitable.
Constant communication between the two teams is necessary to keep business flowing efficiently. Regular management meetings and smart use of restaurant technologies are integral to supporting managers in their profitability goals.