If you have worked in a restaurant you may have experienced a ‘divide’ that sometimes occurs between what we refer to as the back (BOH) and front of house (FOH). The BOH or kitchen is where the food is prepared and dishes are washed. The FOH is where food and drink is served to guests, the dining rooms, bars, lounges and such.
For generations restaurant workers have found themselves slotted into one of these two groups rarely to cross to the other side. These two groups often have significant differences in demographics, motivation, compensation structures and perhaps most importantly, cultures.
For the past several years I have been studying the difference between these two distinct groups in our restaurant workplaces. During this time I’ve come to the conclusion that our fixation with creating two separate and distinct ‘houses’ is not the most effective organizational design if one is looking to create a united and engaged workplace.
Not only can animosity exist when we create this sort of segregation but we definitely limit opportunities for our workers and the quality of service we provide our guests. I also argue that there are financial implications as a result of this divide including retention and productivity which I would put at the top of the list.
My study of this phenomenon combined with a fascination with restaurant practices and business models has led me to ask the question: “Would we be better off with just one house?”
I’m not exactly sure what this means but I am inspired by the ground breaking ideas of people like Dominque Crenn, Danny Meyer and Zita Cobb who are looking at how we run our restaurants through a different lens. To help create discussion in this realm I’ve decided to create a series of podcasts that will see me spend time with some of the industry’s most forward thinkers.
My series will be called One House and will start in January. Stay tuned and feel free to get in touch with me if you have any thoughts about the series.
Yours in hospitality,