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Ode to the Host and Hostess


A lot of teamwork goes into making a good service. One of the most important roles, however, is often overlooked: The Host/Hostess can make or break a busy night.

The Host/Hostess does a lot more than charm impatient 5-tops suffering from low blood-sugar. In fact, they’re often engaged in a game of 3D Chess that spans the entire dining room, bar and even the kitchen. While walking around with menus and a smile might look easy to an outsider, very few people have the skillset to work the door.

What makes the Host/Hostess so valuable?

They Display Grace Under Pressure
One large party is running late, the other one is early. The line just misfired a 3-top and suddenly the tickets are stacking up. Guests are arriving with their parties incomplete and wanting to order off the happy hour menu that ended 2 hours ago. The Host/Hostess takes it all stride, giving wait times, seating strategically, even getting drinks for the people waiting. All with a calm smile.

They Take Names/Kick Ass
The Host/Hostess is literally taking names. Trying to keep track of a 20-deep waitlist on a busy night is no small task. 2-tops are easier to sit, and maybe can be convinced to sit at the bar. Seating larger parties requires a lot more foresight. Table 10a is getting a bill, and so is Table 5. Slide one table across the room, trade table 8 to a different server for a table to be named later, let the kitchen know they have another big top coming in 15 mins, transfer the cocktails to the new ticket and… on to the next set of guests who are trying to write their own name onto the list (that’s why you hide all the pens.)

They Have the Situational Awareness of a New England Patriots Special Teams Player
Ideally the Host/Hostess knows what’s happening before it has a chance to happen. This can only happen when they are situationally aware of the entire room. Is the server in Section 2 falling behind? Is the bartender suddenly dealing with a large and complicated cocktail order from the now-seated 5-top? Is the Cold Station slammed with salads and not getting those desserts out fast enough? They know – and they know where to jump in to make it smoother.

They Have the Patience of a Saint
Since the Host/Hostess role is often (mistakenly) seen as being on the bottom rung, they get it from all sides. The guests want to know why they can’t add 3 people to their reservation and still be seated right away. Servers are falling behind and want tables bussed and waters topped. Bartenders are running low on white wine, lemons and vermouth and need someone to go to the stockroom. The seasoned Host/Hostess can’t do it all, but they know to keep their cool and do what they can with a series of interlocking bad situations.

If you have a badass Host/Hostess, let them know and tag them in the Facebook Comments.

Jack Hott

Jack Hott has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry. Along the way he’s flipped burgers, tossed pizzas and spilled a lot of wine on white table cloths.

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