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.
What is the back of house?
The back of house, also known as BOH, is a term used for all the behind-the-scenes action that customers typically do not see. This usually includes the kitchen, where the food is prepped and cooked. It can also include employee break rooms and any office space you might have.
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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 employees must wear clean uniforms and aprons while on the job.
Usually, 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 operations. They hire employees, ensure the restaurant is up to code with food safety and even jump in on the action when the kitchen is very busy.
The executive chef works closely with the kitchen and general managers. Also known as the head chef, they create all the specials for the menu and oversee ordering food for the restaurant.
The sous chef is the next in charge after the executive chef. The two work very closely together. The sous chef also tends to be in charge of scheduling the staff, supervising the kitchen workers and training new staff.
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 position in the line by the stoves. They often divide their work by station or type of food, such as fry cook, grill cook or pastry chef.
The prep cooks do what their name suggests: They prepare the food. They do a lot of the routine tasks such as chopping vegetables and prepping ingredients.
The caller is the person who places the orders to the cooks. 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.
A kitchen checklist for BOH employees
Running a successful BOH requires the kitchen to run as smoothly as possible. Here are a few things that your employees can do to streamline processes and provide patrons with 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 sanitize the walk-in freezers and refrigerators
- Clean the oven racks, doors and walls
- Boil out the deep fryer
Monthly kitchen checklist:
- Clean the coffee makers
- Empty grease traps
- Wash the walls to remove any buildup from splashes or grease
- Switch 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 staff and responsibilities, you might be wondering, is there a front of house? There is and it’s equally as important. The front of house is all the places customers see, visit and interact with during their time at your restaurant. The front of house encompasses the waiting area, hostess stand, toilet, dining area and the bar.
The front of house is also where you can let your restaurant’s personality shine. The decor and design can help patrons feel a certain way and be immersed in 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. Keeping it clean and having stations 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, helps avoid collisions and minimizes time wasted running across the kitchen.
Finally, improve the 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 sessions with your front and back of house 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 see how each individual affects the customer experience.
Communication goes beyond just training. Offering a free meal for staff during work hours helps build camaraderie between employees during breaks when they can talk casually. Employees who are friendly with each other work better together.