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Restaurant Host/Hostess: How to Become One

by | CAREER TIPS

Are you happy and energetic? Do you love to make people feel warm and welcome? If so, then a job as restaurant host or hostess may be the perfect position for you!

A restaurant host or hostess, sometimes titled as maitre d’, makes the first impression for a restaurant so you could argue that it’s the most important job in the building.

What is the difference between a restaurant host or hostess and a maitre d’?

When you’re searching for restaurant jobs, you will see some listings for host or hostess and others for maitre d’. It may seem confusing at first but it’s easy to understand because there is no actual difference between the jobs, only the titles. 

Restaurant host or restaurant hostess are job titles that apply to either a man or a woman. Maitre d’ is less commonly used and can be used for men or women. No matter what the restaurant calls it, it’s all the same role.

What is a restaurant host?

A restaurant is someone who works in the dining room of a restaurant as part of the F&B service team

Not every restaurant has hosts or hostesses on staff. Some smaller or family run restaurants may delegate these duties to the waiters or waitresses that are working on a shift. In larger restaurants there may be an entire team of hosts and hostesses working together to serve the guests.

What does a restaurant maitre d’ do?

As a maitre d’, you are the first point of contact for guests when they arrive at the restaurant. You are the one who gets to make a first impression and set the tone for the culinary experience to come. A typical shift for a restaurant host will be filled with warmly greeting guests as they come in the door. You should always have a smile ready to go as you welcome and show them to their table.

Beyond being the welcome party arriving guests, there are a number of other duties a host is responsible for during a shift.

You will be handling phone calls from guests regarding reservations or other questions about the restaurant. It’s important to have proper phone etiquette when you take calls from guests. Once again, you will be their first impression of the restaurant so you must be polite, attentive, and helpful.

It is your responsibility to ensure smooth flow of guests in and out of the restaurant. You must monitor the emptying of the tables, provide guests an estimated wait time based on the current waiting list, and make sure they’re happy as they wait.

Depending on the restaurant or waiting time, you might need to take the first drink orders from a party. After taking it you may have to serve the drinks to guests yourself or you might pass it to a waiter or waitress.

What’s the difference between a restaurant host or hostess and a waiter or waitress?

A restaurant host or hostess works closely with the front of house waiting staff, but there is a clear difference in the roles.

Hosts will be interacting with guests after they arrive at the restaurant until they are seated and again when they leave the table. 

Once the host or hostess seats the guest, the waiter or waitress takes over. They will be taking the meal and drink orders, making recommendations, and serving the dishes to the guests

To guarantee a well rounded experience, the hand off between the maitre d and the server should be seamless. The waitstaff needs to have the same enthusiasm and energy as the welcoming party so guests continue to feel welcomed once you’ve seated them.

What is the career path of a restaurant host?

Getting a job as a host or hostess in a restaurant is a great way to get your foot in the door of the hospitality industry.

It’s an entry level position, which means you may not need previous experience or education but a high school diploma will likely be a requirement. A background in customer service will help you land a restaurant host job as those skills are highly sought after in the hospitality industry.

If you want to become a waiter or waitress, then working as a maitre d’ can be a great start. It allows you to observe the wait staff during service, pick up tricks, and learn from their mistakes. 

Restaurants often promote from within so excelling as a host can help you when the manager is looking for a new server. You may even be asked to cover a couple wait shifts if someone is out sick and get a taste before moving into the role.

This is the perfect role for you if you want to get your first job in hospitality. Take a look at the open host/hostess positions available on Hosco to find your dream job!

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