The Restaurant Hostess

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Having spent years in the restaurant business as a manager and in every other position when I was younger, I can say that the hostess/host job in a restaurant is very important, so much so that my last sentence is an understatement.   And here I am writing about the full time hostess not the rotating hostess/host who is sometimes a waitress


It’s the hostess’s job to assign the wait staff the tables they will wait on, make change with money, protect wait staff from abusive customers, protect customers from abusive wait staff, balance the cash register, answer phones and take reservations and navigate the tricky waters of the petty jealousies that inflict so much of the food service world. 


You would think that the kitchen and the serving staff were working for separate businesses at times if you listened to conversations that were exchanged behind the scenes.  But above all of this is the hostess.


Why?  Usually if it’s a family business, the hostess is in with the family or a family member.  And they’re not goofy Aunt Sherrie because the position is too important.  That means this person has clout. 


If the business is corporate, the hostess has authority by position.  Though she may still be in the world of the servers and treats the kitchen help as if it was a separate entity preferring to work through the head chef, she has the power to cut the knees off any mouthy chef or fry cook because she has the head chef’s back because she protects him or her from unruly customers who needlessly complain about the food when looking for a freebie.


Another reason for the hostess’s importance is that the management is often in the back office.  The reason for the hostess’s job if she does it right is so that the manager doesn’t have to come out of this island of peace. 


Kind of like what a friend of mine who’s Dad was putting him through school told another friend who wanted him buy him a hoagie, “If my Dad had wanted to support both of us, he’d have had twins,” he said.   The idea then is if I wanted to come out of the back office, I’d be the hostess.


So from this flows a lot of power.


What are some good tips to become a hostess?  When you apply, be dressed sharp and modest.  Try to look older than your years if you’re young.  If you’re older, this may be to your advantage so make sure,again, that you dress with class.  Fashion varies depending on what part of the country you are in, but I’d say that being conservative in dress for the job interview never hurts.  Then again, I’m square and dress like it’s 1956, so check around and maybe scout out the place to which you want to apply.


As far as other things in this job, being honest, good references, phone skills and math are important as well as restaurant experience.  Also being well spoken and having tact.  Remember In a good restaurant, the sky is the limit in this job, and it’s a great place to either start or end.   


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