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10 things I wish I knew before I started working FOH


Are you looking to get a front of house job, but lack experience? Here are the ten things about working the FOH you need to know.

If you’re trying to break into a front of house (FOH) job, then you came at the right time. Restaurants across the nation are hiring and are more willing now than ever before to train new blood. But, if you have no prior experience or only a short time under your belt, there are a few things you need to know now so the learning curve is that much quicker — and you’ll impress your co-workers and bosses who likely view these rules as second nature.

Always ask yourself, does this apron look clean?
Customers notice everything, and then they go on yelp and talk about it, so don’t give them any excuse — wear a clean apron. Aprons are one of those things that can quickly get dirty, so have backups and wash them frequently.

Hold glassware by the base or stem.
Never present or grab a glass by the rim — this is where customers put their mouths, so whether you’re dropping off a pint or clearing off a table, it always looks unsanitary. Hold glassware from the bottom half at all times, or the stem if it’s a wine glass.

Clear unused items from tables.
Be mindful not to let unused glassware or plates pile up on customer’s tables while they’re dining. They might not notice, but when they do — they do. Taking away finished items as they become available shows you’re attentive and will save you time when flipping tables later.

Always ask before removing anything from a table.
In regards to that last rule, never just assume someone is done with something. Always ask before you remove an item, even if it looks empty — it’s courteous and shows that you’re taking care of the customer.

Steer clear of gendered greetings.
Generally, it’s just not professional to call a table “guys or gals.” There are more neutral and professional ways to greet a table, like “How’s everyone this evening?” or simply using Ya’ll or Folks.

When a customer is ready, cash them out as quickly as possible.
The moment a customer puts down payment, they’re ready to go. Don’t wait till they’ve become impatient, as this will be their last impression. If the customer isn’t ready to leave or they’re having a good time — it still doesn’t hurt to cash them out right away. Just thank them, and let them know there’s no rush!

Avoid touching your face.
If we’ve all learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that touching your face is mindless. But, start being mindful of this because when you work FOH, all eyes are on you, and touching your face looks unsanitary.

Place dishes into the bus tubs.
When you’re in a rush, it can be hard to remember to softly place dishes into bus tubs rather than just dropping them. If there are tables near a bus station, be mindful of how you set dishes down to reduce loud noise.

Avoid resting plates on yourself.
If you’re carrying a stack of clean plates to a service station or clearing plates from a table — avoid resting them on yourself. Again, this is just another sanitary trigger that reassures that customers pick up on everything.

Always keep your eyes on the floor (not literally).
Always be aware of what’s happening around you. This will allow you to quickly identify a customer that needs attention, a table that needs to be cleared, or your boss standing directly behind you while you’re chatting away with a coworker. If you keep your eyes on the floor — you’re setting yourself up for a successful service.

Keep these ten fundamentals in mind when you’re in a FOH working interview, and you’ll have management asking if you’ve truly never worked in a restaurant before.


Ashley McNally

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.

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