I hope to explore the various positions in a restaurant one at a time. This is the first blog on this subject so far, so we are starting at the beginning. The first person you see when you walk into a restaurant is the host or hostess. In some restaurants this person is call the maitre d'hotel or maitre d. Some restaurants do not have a host, servers simply "self-host" or this position is filled by a manager type.
Some hosts are young, probably their first job others are the most experienced server in the building. Every restaurant is different, as such the responsibilities of the host will be different. In example, some hosts are required to bus tables as well as clean the bathroom, many do not. Being a host can be hard work especially if servers are always bugging you for tables, too many tables, mad people in line, or drunks trying to get in (earlier we learned to refuse entry to someone intoxicated).
The primary job functions include seating guests as the arrive, keeping rotation of the servers, general cleaning duties (clean menus, floors, doors, windows, waiting area, etc.), taking reservations, present menus/coasters/silverware, alerting servers when they get sat, opening and holding the doors for guests as they enter and exit. Some hosts might change menu cards (specials, inserts, etc.), write the specials on a dry erase or chalk board, clean the bathrooms, bus server's dirty tables, run food, plus a mirade of other possible activities.
The job is often times overlooked, but any server will tell you when a host double or triple seats you, it puts you in the weeds almost immediately. Expected salary for this job, also varies quite a bit, but you can expect to be paid $7.25 to $10.00 plus a tip out from the servers. The tip out varies just like everything else, but the standard seems to be 1% of your total sales.
The Best Qualities
- Good memory, useful to know when you just sat someone, which tables are clear, which are occupied, and which need bussed.
- Very good customer service skills, to deal with people waiting too long, upset people as they leave, and general interactions with the public
- Planning skills are necessary to know how long it will take a table to finish and where to seat the next group.
Depending on your goals, dreams, laws, etc. the next step can be in any of the three primary areas of a restaurant: Front-of-house as a server, back-of-house as expo/utility/dish, or to the bar as a bar back.