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The Importance of Hostess Side Work in Restaurants

Debbie MillerAuthor

A whopping 45% of diners go out to eat multiple times a week, with another 20% going out to eat once a week. In the hustle and bustle of a restaurant, hostesses play a crucial role in ensuring that each dining experience runs smoothly. While their primary duty is to greet guests and manage reservations, hostess side work often remains in the background, hidden from the diners' view.

In this article, we'll delve into the significance of hostess side work in maintaining an efficient and welcoming atmosphere in restaurants. We'll explore what side work entails, why it matters, and how to create an effective hostess sidework checklist. By the end, you'll understand the importance of these often-overlooked tasks in the hospitality industry.

Ready? Let's dive in. 

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The Significance of Side Work in the Hospitality Industry

Side work refers to the additional responsibilities and tasks that hostesses and other restaurant staff perform to ensure the establishment's smooth operation. It's the behind-the-scenes work that contributes to the overall success of the restaurant. What does a host do at a restaurant? While their primary duties involve greeting and seating guests, side work includes various tasks like setting up and maintaining the hostess station, assisting with special requests, bussing and resetting tables, and more. This often-overlooked work is vital for creating a positive dining experience.

Performing side work benefits hostesses in several ways. It allows them to actively contribute to the restaurant's efficiency and success. Moreover, by taking on these additional responsibilities, hostesses can improve their time management and organizational skills. However, it's important to note side work should complement their primary role, not replace it. The key is to strike a balance between welcoming guests and ensuring that the restaurant operates like a well-oiled machine. 

How to Create a Hostess Sidework Checklist 

One effective way to ensure that hostess side work is consistently performed is by creating a sidework checklist. Putting these tasks in writing not only tells your team what to prioritize but also provides a space to track progress. Here's a breakdown of what to include on a hostess sidework checklist: 

Pre-Shift Responsibilities

  • Setting up the Hostess Station: Ensure the station is clean, organized, and stocked with necessary supplies like menus, reservation sheets, and seating charts. Running an efficient host stand helps create a positive connection with guests right when they walk in the door.

  • Reviewing the Reservation Book: Check for reservations and coordinate table assignments accordingly. Restaurant reservations help you gauge a better idea of inventory and staffing needs, among many others.

  • Preparing the Waiting Area: Make sure the waiting area is tidy, comfortable, and well-stocked with materials like menus and promotional materials. People typically don’t enjoy waiting around. Make this process as enjoyable as possible.

Assisting with Special Requests and Accommodations

  • Noting and Communicating Special Seating Requests: Relay any specific guest preferences or requests to the service team so accommodations don’t need to be made later.

  • Handling Dietary Restrictions: Be prepared to address dietary restrictions or other guest requirements. This will help the ordering and food prep process flow more smoothly.

  • Offering Assistance to Guests: Provide information and assistance regarding menus, services, or facilities. 

Bussing and Resetting Tables

  • Clearing and Cleaning Tables Promptly: Ensure that tables are promptly cleared and cleaned after guests leave. This helps your turnaround time for table turnover to be more efficient.

  • Restocking Table Supplies: Keep tables well-stocked with condiments, utensils, and other necessities.

  • Resetting Tables: Prepare tables for new guests, ensuring they are clean and inviting. Collaborate with back-of-house staff to ensure utensils and other essentials are constantly ready to go. 

Miscellaneous Duties

  • Cleaning and Organizing the Hostess Station: Use downtime to maintain cleanliness and orderliness at the hostess station.

  • Updating Reservation Book and Seating Charts: Make necessary changes and ensure accuracy for upcoming shifts. Consider using a restaurant table management system to streamline this process.

  • Assisting Other Staff Members: Support the service team with various tasks during slower periods. 

Tips for Effectively Implementing a Hostess Sidework Checklist

Stay Organized

The checklist should be structured and easy to follow, making it simpler for hostesses to manage their tasks efficiently. An organized checklist allows your staff to know exactly what needs to be done without being told. This means they don’t need to check in before, during, or after their shifts to know what work has been completed.

Keep Things Simple

Avoid overloading hostesses with excessive side work. Focus on essential tasks that contribute to the restaurant's success. These might include table work like wiping down tables after use, or behind-the-scenes work like sanitizing counters around the restaurant.

Be Open to Feedback

Encourage hostesses to provide input on the checklist's effectiveness and adjust accordingly. Your host staff is on the ground and amidst all the action – they are highly tuned into how your restaurant runs and they may have positive suggestions for how to make things more efficient.

Refine Over Time

As the restaurant's needs and processes evolve, continually refine the checklist to ensure it remains relevant and effective. Take in the feedback provided by your staff, and make changes accordingly. Think of improving your side work checklist as part of your monthly side work.  

Hostess side work may be behind the scenes, but its importance in maintaining an efficient and welcoming atmosphere in restaurants cannot be overstated. By creating and implementing a hostess sidework checklist, restaurants can ensure these essential tasks are consistently performed. The bonus? A seamless dining experience for guests and a more organized and efficient workplace for staff. It's time to recognize and appreciate the critical role that hostesses play beyond just greeting and seating guests. Their dedication to side work significantly contributes to the success of any restaurant.

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