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What is a Restaurant Host?

Restaurant hosts are responsible for making sure guests have a pleasant meal and that their needs are met.
A restaurant hostess typically handles front-of-house duties.
A restaurant.
A restaurant host.
A hostess may introduce a restaurant's wine list to patrons.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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A restaurant host is a member of the front of house restaurant staff who is responsible for ensuring that guests have a pleasant meal and that their needs are met. This person may also be simply as a “host” or “hostess,” in the case of women. Typically, the training for the position includes waiting and hospitality experience, and this staff member may also have experience with bookkeeping and financial matters. Some culinary and professional schools offer training that is specifically geared to people who wish to become hosts.

The job includes taking reservations, seating customers, answering questions, keeping an eye on the flow of the floor, handling complaints, and being prepared for a variety of events. Sometimes, the host will assist the waiters, if the restaurant is extremely busy, depending on the restaurant. A host often also handles the financial part of closing the restaurant, totaling income, distributing tips, and so forth.

Essentially, a restaurant host is like an ambassador for a restaurant. Hosts must be friendly and also very sharp-eyed to head problems off early. For example, they need to be prepared to handle the needs of children and disabled diners, and they also need to ensure that the staff is kept happy. Hosts have to balance seating carefully to ensure that servers aren't overloaded, and they have to watch out for customers who seem restless or angry on the floor.

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A good restaurant host can cope with most problems and complaints without needing to call in the owner or manager, and in some cases, the host is the owner. Because a host may need to perform a variety of tasks, he or she is often given great leeway to do things like comp dishes for diners who have expressed unhappiness for their service or offer drinks to customers while they wait for tables.

Usually, a host dresses differently from the rest of the front of house staff to ensure that he or she can be easily identified. Hosts typically have polished, professional manners, and they are very knowledgeable about the menu, wine list, and restaurant so that they can answer questions from patrons. They are also usually encouraged to be well-informed about the surrounding area, so that they can make additional dining recommendations, along with lodging and entertainment suggestions.

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Discuss this Article

ZsaZsa56
Post 6

It seems so rare to see a male restaurant host. Why is that?

tigers88
Post 5

Restaurant host was my very first job when I was 17. I had no experience but I knew how to smile and I could take a reservation and honestly, there is not much more to the job than that.

I liked the work and got to meet a lot of cool people who were a little bit older than me. I had the job for 2 years until I went of to college but that was just the first of many restaurant jobs that would sustain me through my 20s.

disciples
Post 4

My girlfriend is a restaurant host. She likes the work and she is good at it (she has a very warm, magnetic personality) but I know that she would sometimes like to work as a server where you get a bigger share of the tips. My girlfriends makes a percentage, but definitely not as much as the people that work the floor.

GiraffeEars
Post 3

@ ValleyFiah- Fine dining establishments often demand much more from a host than a casual restaurant. They have all of the duties as explained below, but they also need to be the face of the restaurant and ownership. The bests hosts make sure that tables are ready for reservations, remember who the VIPs are, and has the discretion to do whatever is necessary to make the guests happy.

Some of the VIPs that frequent an upscale restaurant are what make that restaurant successful so keeping them happy is of the utmost importance. Comping meals or drinks to ensure that high profile customers return is just as important as advertising. This type of hostess uses much more judgment on the job than any other position besides management. A host in this type of establishment is more of a PR person than anything else. Because of the importance of a host in these restaurants, the qualifications and salary are much higher.

submariner
Post 2

@ ValleyFiah- The importance and place in the employee hierarchy of a restaurant host depends largely on the type of restaurant. The type of restaurant that you are working at will also dictate a restaurant host's salary.

For most casual dining restaurants, the host or hostess is mostly there to greet guests, seat guests, take phone calls, retrieve takeout orders and backup the bartender or wait staff. They may help settle complaints, but in most cases, the wait staff or the front of the house manager handles complaints. The pay for host/esses in this type of restaurant is usually around minimum wage plus 10% of the wait staff’s tips. Some casual dining restaurants may also rotate staff between wait staff and host/ess position. This is often a great job for college and high school students who want a paycheck, nightly cash payouts, and a good job.

ValleyFiah
Post 1

Do I need any experience for a restaurant host job? What type of pay or salary can I expect? I am a college student so I am mostly available in the afternoons and evenings. I need to find a job that pays decent, but is only during the evenings or weekends.

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