It’s the part your customers never see, but the way you run your restaurant back of house is fundamental to the success of your business. Similar to managing your front of house, it’s a mixture of the people, the equipment and the focus on customer service that makes a successful back of house operation.
What is the restaurant back of house?
The back of house — also known as “BOH” — is your restaurant’s behind-the-scenes, including the kitchen, staff room, store cupboard and office.
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Back of house staff
The kitchen manager is responsible for overseeing all back of house operations. They hire employees, make sure the restaurant is up to standards with safety, hygiene and food quality, coordinate with the front of house and may even help out when the kitchen gets extra busy.
The head chef works closely with the kitchen staff and the general manager (who works in the front of house). They play a key role in designing and testing menus, sourcing and ordering ingredients, showing techniques to other kitchen staff and helping manage the kitchen.
The sous chef is the next in command after the head chef, and the two work closely together. The sous chef also tends to be in charge of staff rotas, supervising kitchen workers and training them.
There can be many different types of cook back of house in the kitchen. Cooks will often divide their work by station or type of food, such as fry, grill cook, pastry or sauté. There may also be a prep cook, who takes care of routine preparation tasks like chopping, sieving and so on.
Expeditors act as the go-between for kitchen staff and waiting staff. They manage the timing of dishes, complete plating presentations and perform quality checks before food reaches the front of house.
The role of the porter is to keep the kitchen area clean, tidy, well-stocked and organised for other back of house staff, especially cooks and chefs.
Last but not least is the dishwasher, who uses various appliances and tools to clean dishes, glasses and cooking equipment. They ensure that back of house staff have everything they need to prepare food, helping to keep the dining room quickly turning over.
Managing your restaurant back of house
It ultimately comes down to the restaurant owner to manage the back of house efficiently. Even though it’s tucked away from public view, the BOH has a huge impact on customers and the reputation of your business. The staff you hire, the budget you put aside for the kitchen and the culture you create all make a difference.
Approaches to help you manage the back of house
As the owner of the business, everyone looks to you for guidance — how to run the kitchen, how to manage staff, how to respond to customer feedback and more. There’s plenty to think about, so here are some things you can put into practice now to improve the way your back of house is managed.
- Rethink your restaurant floorplan to improve the relationship between front and back of house
- Suggest new trends to inspire your kitchen team, and give them the space to experiment
- Tackle signs of burnout in your back of house team to lower absences in the team
- Transform your identity from “boss” to “leader” to rally up your team
- Streamline staff rotas with a new approach to scheduling
Software to help you manage the back of house
Even though much of the back of house work is manual, there’s software you can use to help it run better.
- Inventory management software shows you what’s running low and when you might need to tweak dishes when ingredients run out. It’s a powerful tool for helping your front of house staff know whether or not the back of house is equipped to respond to customer orders.
- Employee management software can help you see which staff are coming to work a little late or not doing their fair share of the cleandown.
- Analytics software can show you valuable data such as which dishes are you most popular, or how much wastage you’re creating through certain techniques.