October 11

Nine Things You Learn from Working the Front of the House


Working the front of house at a restaurant teaches you things that you can’t learn anywhere else.

It really seems that if everybody had to work in a restaurant, it’d be a better world. Where else can you learn grace, empathy, first aid and how to keep it together in the face of chaos? Restaurants! Here are a few lessons learned from the Front of House.

The same joke over and over can still be funny.

Portlandia Chicken Server

Due to a certain television show, every 3rd customer thinks it’s clever to ask what the chicken on the menus’ name is. At first this seems tiresome, but after awhile you’ll realize humor isn’t about the joke, it’s how it’s told.

The proper order to stacking plates.
There’s an art to clearing a 6 top in one trip. It doesn’t just start at random either. You quickly learn how much or how little you can carry and still make it to the dish-pit.

Regular customers are what makes it all worthwhile.
Your regulars are the lifeblood of your profession. You’ll watch them meet the love of their lives, get married and have children. You might even see the children grow up. It’s a gift to have regulars – treat it as such.

Wine glasses are a perishable item.
You’ll break more stems than you’ll ever be able to count. You’ll probably be able to differentiate between a Burgundy glass and a Cabernet glass just by the sound of the pop or crash alone.

Cutting yourself isn’t just for the kitchen.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to cut yourself with all sorts of dull, unsanitary objects. My personal favorite is slicing a thumb on the foil of the bottle of wine you’re about to open.

Folding napkins is a Zen practice.
Just let yourself BE the napkin. And then BE the fold.

Napkin Jacket

How to walk through crowded rooms.
Once you’ve worked a busy floor, you’ll have the ability to get from one end of a crowded room to the other without a problem. This lesson is especially useful in bars and at shows.

Fernet is delicious.
If you’ve worked the front of the house you know this is just a self-evident fact.

It’s not about what went wrong – It’s about how you made it right.
Maybe you forgot to bring the side of fries or didn’t let the kitchen know about the gluten allergy until after the burger comes back. Don’t try to hide the mistakes or blame someone else: own it, fix it and move on. No one will hold a mistake against you if you quickly resolve it with grace.

Front of House or Back of House – what lessons have you learned working in a restaurant?


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About the author