It’s the part of your restaurant patrons never see, yet the restaurant back of house is what makes your eatery run smoothly and effectively, and keeps diners coming back for more. A well-run back of house is one of the main essential restaurant management tips.
What does back of house mean?
The back of house, meaning all the behind-the-scenes action that customers typically do not see, is also referred to as BOH. This is usually primarily the kitchen, where the food is prepped and cooked. It can also include employee break rooms and any office space and storage.
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Back of house staff
Before we get into who works in the back of house, it’s important to note that all back of house restaurant employees must wear clean uniforms and aprons while on the job. Health inspectors also recommend that you or your kitchen staff complete a food safety course, and most food businesses must employ a food safety supervisor by law.
One of the first people you see in the back of house is the kitchen manager. The kitchen manager is responsible for all back of house restaurant operations. They hire employees, ensure the restaurant is up to code with food safety, and even step in to help when the kitchen is very busy.
The executive chef is the central figure of the back of house and works closely with the kitchen and general managers. Also known as the head chef, they create the menu and maintain any changes, including all specials and seasonal dishes. They also oversee ordering food for the restaurant and often manage sous chefs and line cooks.
The sous chef is the next in charge after the executive chef. The two work very closely and often create the menu together. The sous chef is usually in charge of scheduling the staff, supervising the kitchen workers, training new staff, and maintaining kitchen organisation.
There are often multiple line cooks in the back of house. This is the most common position in the kitchen, and the line cooks each have a specific position in the back of house restaurant operations. They often divide their work by station, such as sauté chef, fry chef, or grill chef, or by type of food, such as sauces, seafood, or pastry.
The prep cooks do what their name suggests: They prepare the food. They do many of the routine tasks such as washing and chopping vegetables and prepping ingredients. They may also be responsible for less complicated assembly, such as salads and dressings.
The caller is the person who places the orders to the cooks and is a critical connection between the front of house and back of house. They are well-versed in how long each menu item takes to prepare and tell the chefs what to work on and when. Sometimes the executive chef acts as the caller during peak busy times.
Last but not least is the dishwasher. The dishwashers operate the cleaning equipment and are responsible for cleaning the dishes and glasses to help turn over the dining room quickly. They also wash the pots and pans and silverware.
A kitchen checklist for BOH employees
Running a successful BOH requires the kitchen to run as smoothly as possible. Here are a few restaurant management tips that your employees can do to streamline processes and provide patrons the best service possible.
Daily kitchen checklist:
- Sweep and mop the floors
- Take out the rubbish and recycling
- Disinfect surfaces where food is prepped
- Clean the grill, range, and fryer
- Wash tools such as the meat slicer, can opener, and others
Weekly kitchen checklist:
- Wash and sanitise the walk-in freezers and refrigerators
- Clean the oven racks, doors, and walls
- Boil out the deep fryer
- Clean and de-lime faucets and spray heads
Monthly kitchen checklist:
- Clean the coffee makers
- Empty grease traps
- Wash the walls to remove any build-up from splashes or grease
- Switch off every other month between cleaning the ice maker and washing the vent hoods
The difference between the front of house and back of house
Now that we’ve explored the back of house restaurant staff and responsibilities, you might be wondering, what is front of house vs back of house? The front of house is equally as important, as it is what customers see, visit, and interact with during their time at your restaurant. The front of house encompasses the waiting area, host stand, restroom, dining area, and the bar.
The front of house is also where you can let your restaurant’s personality shine. The decor and design help patrons feel comfortable and welcome and to enjoy the atmosphere of their dining experience.
Managing your back of house
As the leader of your restaurant, managing your back of house efficiently helps give customers a positive experience and ultimately helps increase profit.
First, invest in a simple inventory management system to help your team ensure there is minimal waste and that you don’t run out of key ingredients needed for your menu.
Next, ensure your kitchen setup is functional. Organised, clean stations that are next to each other in an order that makes sense, such as the prep station for vegetables next to the line cook who cooks them, help avoid collisions and minimise time wasted running across the kitchen.
Finally, create clear communication between your front and back of house to ensure a smooth experience for all.
Improving collaboration with your FOH and BOH
Every employee on your staff affects how customers perceive your restaurant. Communication between front of house and back of house staff ensures both areas of your restaurant run smoothly.
Doing group training with your front and back of house restaurant staff helps everyone operate under the same rules and guidelines. Let both sides of the house see what the other does. It also helps the team understand how each individual affects the customer experience.
Communication goes beyond just training. Offering a free meal for staff during work hours when they can talk casually builds camaraderie between employees. Staff members who are friendly with each other work better together.