18 The NaTioNal CuliNary review • July/augus T 2016
froNT of The house up front
o one has ever successfully operated a restaurant without a solid kitchen providing
delicious, consistent food capable of bringing contented smiles to diners’ faces. That
being said, before patrons taste a single morsel from the kitchen, they experience the
front of the house. If they don’t like the marketing effort, the look of the place, the way they are
greeted, the prices, or the pace and quality of service, they’ll never try the food—or maybe try
it once and never come back.
So, front-of-the-house management must be viewed as an equal partner with kitchen management,
not as an afterthought.
the guest experience
Among his best clients, front-of-the-house responsibility is a collaboration between a general
manager, a floor manager or shift leader, and front-of-house personnel, says Matthew Mabel,
president of Surrender, Inc., a Dallas-based hospitality and restaurant consultancy.
“The key to successful front-of-house operations is a true guest focus,” he adds. The whole
culture of the establishment must reflect this aim, with the owner or general manager setting the
tone for the entire unit.
It takes a team effort to deliver what Pearson Keyes, calls “the guest experience.” Keyes,
general manager of City Tap House, a gastropub in Washington, D.C., says the goal is to create a
seamless operation. “If everything we do in the front isn’t for the purpose of delivering a desirable
guest experience, we’re missing the point, and everything else becomes much more difficult.”
Among the elements needed to create a total guest experience, Keyes lists the following:
guest reception, service timelines, production of food and beverage, assistance and management
of the service staff, and maintenance of the space.
Great food isn’t enough to carry a restaurant
that doesn’t value front-of-the-house décor,
ambience and service just as highly. By AlAn rIchMAn
aBove aNd oPPosi Te, CloCkwise
frOM ABOve: 1) At Oleana, servers
manage the entire service experience
and have detailed knowledge of the
menu. 2) Comfort, durability and
cost figure prominently in the design
equation. 3) The front of the house
must understand where the kitchen
is in terms of wait time to effectively
service customers. 4) front-of-
the-house management is usually
responsible for day-to-day décor
decisions, including table setup, lighting
levels, housekeeping and general
maintenance. 5) An interior rendition
of The Cowfish sushi Burger Bar’s new
restaurant in atlanta. 6) Brixx wood
fired pizza locations reflect designer
steve starr’s seating philosophy that
buyers should measure chairs in terms
of minutes per seating.