Front-of-house duties

Restaurants employ a number of important employees to run the business properly. The front-of-house employees remain the face of the restaurant while back-of-house employees are the individuals who prepare the food and keep the kitchen area clean. According to the National Careers Service, there are 614,100 people working in restaurants in the UK. Add to this figure 185,000 working in contract catering and 332,700 working in pubs bars and nightclubs and this sector becomes a major source of employment in Britain.

Waiters and waitresses

The primary duties of waiters and waitresses are taking customer's orders, serving the food and beverages, and collecting the payment at the end of the meal. When a customer arrives at a waiter's table, the waiter greets and welcomes him to the restaurant. The waiter must make sure a customer receives drinks and has them refilled as needed. Waiters suggest specific food items and take the dining order, entering it in the restaurant's order system. Typically, the waiters also serve the food to the customers after the cooks prepare it. In some restaurants, the waiters personally prepare some basic food items themselves, including salads and appetizers such as chips and salsa. After the main course, a waiter suggests desserts or other items and then presents the bill to the customer. In some restaurants, it is also the waiter's duty to collect the money from the customers and make change. The side duties of a waiter include cleaning the section they work during and after their shifts, refilling condiments such as salt and pepper shakers, keeping the floor cleared of clutter and helping clear dishes from the tables to help accelerate the customer turnover rate.


The hosts remain in the front of the restaurant and are the first people seen by the customers when they enter the establishment. This position is often titled "Head Waiter" in the UK. Hosts greet a customer and welcome her to the restaurant. The duties of a host include finding out how many people are in the dinner party and locating a perfect spot to seat the guests. Most restaurants use a rotation to determine which section is the next to seat and it is the host's duty to keep track of this rotation to maintain the quality and speed of service. Hosts often do side duties such as rolling silverware into napkins and keeping the front door and waiting area clean and clear of clutter.


Bartenders work behind the bars, creating cocktails and serving alcoholic beverages. Bartenders also perform the duties of a waiter and serve food and drinks to customers sitting around the bar area. The duties of a bartender are to make drinks for the other waiters in the restaurant while maintaining their personal section. Bartenders must be knowledgeable of a wide variety of drinks, understand what each drink tastes like and suggest specific cocktails when asked. The duties of a bartender also include keeping the bar clean and clear of clutter, using the bar sink to keep shakers, mixers and glasses clean and stock all garnishes necessary for the dressing of drinks, such as lemons, limes and cherries.

Bus boys and bar backs

Bus boys and bar backs work to make sure that the jobs of the waiters and bartenders run smoothly. These employees remain responsible for cleaning tables after customers leave, removing all dinner wear and cleaning and sanitising the tables to prepare for the next customers. The bus boys take all dishes to the dish pit for the dishwashers to clean. The bar backs take care of the bartender, making sure all beer remains stocked and the mixers and juices remain full with back up ready. The bus boys and bar backs also help clean up at the end of shifts, making sure everything is stocked and tidy for the next shift. Few restaurants in the UK maintain this category of work and actually require waiters and barmen to fulfill these duties.

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About the Author

Shawn Lealos has been writing professionally since 1996. His articles have appeared in magazines such as Inside Sports and on websites such as He works as a film critic and is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. Lealos received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Gaylord School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma in 2000.

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