Why Front and Back of the House Clash

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How to Avoid the Restaurant Drama
mad chef
The animosity between kitchen and wait staff is an age-old dilemma that restaurants have been facing since the beginning of time. The kitchen, referred to as the Back-of-the-House, and the servers, referred to as the Front-of-the-House, have been at odds with each other since restaurants existed. At best, it’s an occasional annoyance to managers. At worst, it can seriously interrupt the work flow.

While this employee competition is sometimes harmless and possibly even beneficial, like a high school sports rivalry, there are other times when it needs to be dealt with. Managers can address and prevent these common restaurant issues with staff before they even occur.

Things servers do to irritate cooks:

1. Ordering the wrong food. Sometimes when a server is busy they type in a mistake on a table’s order. It could be something as small as indicating the wrong temperature for a steak or a wrong dressing for a salad. But these “little typos” can destroy the flow of a kitchen. Having to go back and remake even one entrée can put a cook in the weeds for the rest of the service. Taking one extra minute to read over the order before it’s placed can prevent kitchen chaos and an unhappy customer.

2. Dropping food. This is fairly obvious, but dropping food is worse than ordering the wrong food as far as putting the kitchen behind. Servers are busy and customers are impatient, but it’s worth taking two trips to carry the food out rather than piling too much on a tray and risking an avalanche.

3. Allowing too many special requests. It’s always good to accommodate the customer as much as possible, but only within reason. If a customer has an allergy to an ingredient or wants to sub out a side dish for something else, it shouldn’t be a problem. But if the customer is requesting something that’s not even on the menu, or wants a sauce or dressing that you normally don’t offer, say no. The kitchen is only prepped for the menu items and trying to throw together anything else on-the-fly is going to back the kitchen up. Don’t forget that overly accommodating can equal desperate, and that’s not a good look for any business.

4. Taking too long to pick up food. Servers are not doing the kitchen a favor by taking forever to pick up an order. The food is not only getting cold, which may result in a customer sending it back, but the food is taking up space on the line when other orders need to be getting out.

broken glass

Things cooks do to irritate servers:

1. Having food ready too quickly. Cooks try to get the food out as quickly as possible so they don’t get backed up, but the customer wants to dine, not dine and dash. Having entrees in the window before the customer has even finished their soup is annoying and going to result in a poor overall dining experience.

2. Behaving unprofessionally. Cooks have a reputation for being vulgar and servers have a reputation for being snooty, but this is mostly just a matter of work environments. Servers interact with customers all day which requires a professional and courteous demeanor. Cooks are working with knives and fire all day, and in some kitchens, are reprimanded for even talking. Cooks sometimes respond sarcastically or condescendingly when servers ask questions or inquire on orders. Cooks need to realize that the servers are dealing with customers and need to keep them updated on their order. A quick, professional response is all the server needs or wants.

3. Using the wrong ingredients. Cooks sometimes forget that all the ingredients of a dish are listed on the menu for the customer to see, so if they forget to put walnuts in the salad or red peppers in the pasta, the customer is usually going to notice. The server takes the brunt for any mistakes the kitchen makes.

Last modified: February 24, 2013
Sasha Smith


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

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