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Restaurant Back-Of-House: Definition & Top Tips

A back-of-house refers to the area of a restaurant that guests do not typically see. It includes the kitchen, storage, and administrative areas, and tasks like dishwashing, inventory management, and recipe management take place over there.

One of the hardest challenges for a back-of-house is to manage having just enough stock for optimal inventory performance, and all back-of-house operations work in synchronicity to ensure this fine balance is maintained for as long as possible. Yet despite working behind the scenes, the back-of-house occupies a central place in the well-being of a restaurant, and works in tight collaboration with the more commonly exposed front-of-house.

TABLE OF CONTENT:

1- Back-Of-House VS Front-Of-House : What’s The Difference ? 

2- Back-Of-House Admin Roles And Hierarchy 

3- Front-Of-House Staff

4- Maximizing The Collaboration Between Front-Of-House And Back-Of-House

5- Overcoming The Difficulties Of Setting Up Back-Of-House Operations

6- Conclusion

7- About Supy

1. Back-Of-House VS Front-Of-House : What’s The Difference ?

The back-of-house and front-of-house are vital, interdependent parts of a Food & Beverage operator.

The front-of-house involves all customer-facing operations, such as welcoming guests, serving, seating, and providing excellent customer service. This area is instrumental in creating the customer’s direct experience, from ambiance to service quality and every detail, from the cleanliness of the cutlery to the server’s knowledge about the menu, matters.

On the other hand, the back-of-house involves behind-the-scenes operations that include food preparation, inventory management, and administrative work. A key challenge is to ensure the smooth operations between each back-of-house department, from procurement to staffing to managing the inventory and menu performance.

 

Back-Of-House Stat

 


Menu costing allows the back-of-house to price dishes appropriately, taking into account not just the cost of the ingredients, but also other factors such as labor and overheads. A careful and strategic approach to menu engineering is also vital. It involves analyzing each dish’s profitability and popularity, then positioning it strategically on the menu to entice customers and boost sales.

Though distinct in their roles, both areas must operate harmoniously for a successful operation. The Front-of-house relies on the back-of-house for timely, correctly prepared dishes, while the back-of-house depends on the Front-of-house for accurate orders and smooth service.

Breakdowns in this partnership can lead to service errors and dissatisfied customers, emphasizing the importance of seamless coordination between these areas in a successful F&B operation.

 

2. Back-Of-House Admin Roles & Hierarchy

Admin Roles:

1. Operations Director: This person oversees the overall operations of the restaurant, focusing on improving productivity, streamlining processes, and ensuring the establishment runs smoothly and profitably. They work closely with all team members to develop and implement business strategies and coordinate operations across various departments.

2. Procurement Officer: This person is responsible for acquiring all the necessary goods and services for the restaurant. They negotiate with suppliers to secure the best prices, manage purchase orders, and oversee inventory to ensure the restaurant is always well-stocked (want to know which supplier is performing best ?).

3. Cost Controller: The cost controller meticulously manages and reduces unnecessary expenses. They track and scrutinize every expense, from food and labor costs to overheads, to ensure profitability and identify areas where efficiency can be improved.

4. Purchasing Manager: The purchasing manager works in concert with the procurement officer to ensure the restaurant has all the necessary supplies. They coordinate with vendors, negotiate pricing, and handle purchase contracts.

A typical kitchen hierarchy in a restaurant may look something like this, from highest to lowest rank:

1. Executive Chef: The top authority in the kitchen, responsible for all culinary aspects, menu creation, and overall kitchen management.

2. Sous Chef: The second-in-command, assists the Executive Chef in managing the kitchen staff and overseeing food preparation.

3. Chef de Partie (Station Chef or Line Cook): These are the chefs in charge of a particular area of production (e.g. grill, pastry, sauce, etc). They report to the Sous Chef or Executive Chef.

4. Commis Chef (Junior Chef): These are entry-level chefs who work under a Chef de Partie to learn about a specific area of the kitchen.

5. Kitchen Porter / Dishwasher: Responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the kitchen, including washing dishes, utensils, and kitchen equipment.

6. Stewards: They are responsible for general cleanliness and often help with basic food prep tasks.

7. Kitchen Assistants / Food Prep Assistants: They handle minor tasks such as peeling, chopping, and sorting ingredients.
In smaller ‘bands’, some members might play multiple ‘instruments’, while a full-size ‘orchestra’ could have even more diverse roles. But every part is essential to serving up a delicious symphony for your taste buds!

Organigram of a kitchen's organization and structure in a restaurant.

3. Front-Of-House Staff

1. General Manager: This is the person in charge of all restaurant operations, including both Front-of-house and back-of-house. They are responsible for hiring staff, managing finances, and ensuring the restaurant meets its goals.

2. Restaurant Manager / Front-of-house Manager: They manage all Front-of-house operations, which includes ensuring top-notch customer service, managing staff schedules, and handling customer complaints or issues. They report directly to the General Manager.

3. Host / Hostess: They are usually the first point of contact for guests. Responsibilities include greeting customers, taking reservations, managing the waitlist, and seating guests.

4. Waitstaff / Servers: They interact directly with guests, taking orders, serving food and drinks, answering questions about the menu, and handling payment.

5. Bartender: They prepare alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, manage the bar area, and sometimes serve bar food. They also maintain a clean environment and stock bar supplies.

6. Busser / Busboy / Busgirl: They assist servers by clearing and cleaning tables, resetting tables for the next guests, and sometimes assisting with food delivery.

7. Sommelier: In upscale restaurants, a sommelier may be present. They are wine experts who help guests choose wines that complement their meals.

8. Barista (in restaurants that have a coffee bar): They prepare and serve coffee and other hot beverages, and often also serve baked goods or snacks.

These roles work together to ensure guests have an excellent dining experience. From the moment they enter the restaurant until they leave, every interaction contributes to their overall impression of the establishment.

4. Maximizing The Collaboration Between Front-Of-House And Back-Of-House

The smooth operation of a restaurant hinges on the seamless collaboration between the back-of-house and Front-of-house teams.

Effective inventory management, possibly aided by an inventory management software or an inventory tracker, is key in ensuring that the restaurant never runs out of the essential items. A carefully maintained inventory spreadsheet can be an excellent tool to monitor stock levels, usage rates, and ordering schedules.

This efficient teamwork influences cost management and customer satisfaction. Accurate communication about inventory helps prevent over-ordering or under-utilization of ingredients, reducing food waste and associated costs.

Bookkeeping is another critical area handled by the back-of-house. This involves meticulous recording and reviewing of financial transactions, including sales, purchases, and food expenses. It’s crucial for financial management, tax compliance, and decision making.

In a well-coordinated operation, the Front-of-house and back-of-house teams work in unison, saving time, controlling costs, enhancing the customer experience, and, consequently, contributing to a successful and profitable restaurant operation.

5. Overcoming The Difficulties Of Setting Up Back-Of-House Operations

Setting up a back-of-house operation for F&B operators is a challenging endeavor, for several reasons :

1. It requires significant planning, organization, and coordination among various tasks like procurement, food preparation, dishwashing, and inventory management. Without technological aid, it can be difficult to maintain efficiency and accuracy in these complex processes.

  • What you should do :
    • Establish processes among your team 
    • Use replicable templates on Excel or Google Spreadsheets to keep track of stock movements and events and to stay accountable.
 
 

2. Managing food costs manually is labor-intensive and prone to errors. Keeping track of fluctuating food prices, calculating portion costs, and pricing menu items require constant attention and calculation.

  • What you should do :
    • Establish a dedicated cost control team. This team would regularly monitor market prices and supplier rates, and carry out calculations for portion costs and menu pricing.
    • Negotiate fixed-term contracts with suppliers to lock in prices and avoid the influence of market fluctuations.

 

3. Recipe management and menu engineering is also complex without the use of software, as they require an in-depth analysis of dish popularity, profitability, and cost-effectiveness.

  • What you should do :
    • Carry out periodic reviews involving all stakeholders, including chefs, servers, and the management.
    • Initiating discussions and brainstorming sessions can help identify popular and profitable dishes based on feedback from servers and customers.
    • Maintaining detailed record-keeping of recipes, portion sizes, and ingredient costs can help calculate the cost-effectiveness of each dish.
 
 

4. Lastly, manual inventory management can be tedious and unreliable due to the possibility of human errors and omissions. It becomes even more challenging when dealing with a large volume of ingredients, tracking their usage, maintaining optimal stock levels, and scheduling timely replenishments. As a result, operators may find it increasingly difficult to operate a back-of-house manually while ensuring a high level of service and food quality.

  • What you should do :
    • Implement strict adherence to established procedures, diligent record-keeping, and regular audits.
    • Designate specific staff members to manage inventory can ensure responsibility and accountability.
    • Use visual systems (like the ‘First In, First Out’ approach) and standardized documentation can help track ingredient usage and schedule replenishments.
    • Conduct regular training sessions for staff to reduce errors and omissions.

6. Conclusion

While the front-of-house and back-of-house operations in a restaurant differ vastly in their duties, their success hinges on seamless collaboration. Front-of-house is the restaurant’s stage, where every move adds to the customer’s experience, while the back-of-house is the engine room, driving everything from menu creation to inventory management, and ensuring that operations hum smoothly.

Setting up an efficient and effective back-of-house can be a complex task, given its multiple responsibilities and the necessity for precision. However, the challenges can be significantly mitigated with solutions such as hiring the right team, from the Executive Chef to the Kitchen Assistants, each playing a critical role. Other key strategies include implementing a robust inventory management system like Supy, streamlining procurement, and leveraging software for cost control and business growth.

Through a well-orchestrated synergy between front-of-house and back-of-house, and the use of appropriate tools and methods, it’s possible to deliver a remarkable dining experience while maintaining operational efficiency and profitability.

7. About Supy

Supy is the data-driven restaurant inventory management software, designed to provide a user-friendly, accurate, and flexible solution that streamlines back-of-house operations. Its adaptability to various business models and its ability to seamlessly link Front and Back-of-House operations allow for efficient management, cost reduction, and superior dining experiences. Therefore, while the intricacies of managing a F&B operation may seem daunting, technological solutions like Supy are paving the way towards a more efficient and profitable future.

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