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What Does a Host Do at a Restaurant?

Being a host or hostess at a restaurant typically requires greeting customers, seating them, managing wait times, taking reservations, and much more. Learn more here.

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A host is the first face a guest sees when they walk into a restaurant, and a great host or hostess can set the tone for a wonderful dining experience. But beyond someone who’s great at greeting, what is a host at a restaurant? What does a hostess do? And how much do they get paid? 

For all of this information, and more tips on how to be a hostess at a restaurant, keep reading. 

What Does It Mean to Host?

A host is the first person to meet a guest when they enter a restaurant, and they’re in charge of the beginning part of the dining experience. Typically only sit-down, dine-in restaurants have hosts, as their main responsibilities are seating guests and managing reservations. To be a great host, a person should be friendly and warm, and always be working to create the best possible dining experience. 

Is There a Difference Between Host vs. Hostess?

The words “host” and “hostess” both describe the same job at a restaurant. Typically, “host” refers to a male staff member, and “hostess” refers to a female staff member. 

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What Are Host or Hostess Responsibilities?

What does a host do? A restaurant host responsibilities include:

Greeting guests

A warm, welcoming greeting is the first step for each guest that walks through the door. Hosts say hi, and welcome the guest into the restaurant. 

Taking reservations and managing them

Taking reservations and keeping a well-organized reservation system is one of the most important jobs of a host. Whether they use an online reservation system or a well-work reservations book, the host must be adept at keeping reservations organized. Sometimes, this means also following up with guests who haven’t shown up or taking phone calls from guests running a few minutes behind.

Managing a wait-list

Some restaurants don’t take reservations, and only have a wait-list for the day of. Keeping the wait-list organized is essential to getting a dining experience off to a great start. This usually involves taking down guest contact information and contacting them when it’s time to sit down.

Communicating wait times to guests 

Communicating accurate wait times to guests is one of the host’s most consistent tasks. Guests tend to take those numbers to heart, so a longer wait time than communicated can be detrimental to a guest’s experience and lead them to give up and seek another place to dine.  

Managing the seating chart

The host is in charge of allocating guests to tables and getting them seated in the correct section. Maintaining a well-organized seating chart is essential to not overload one server, and making sure work is distributed fairly among the wait staff. Getting good at this task takes time and experience in the restaurant.

Seating guests and distributing menus

In many restaurants, when it’s time for a guest to take their seat at their table, it’s a host’s job to walk them to their table and ensure they have menus to start perusing before a server takes over.

Cleaning and to-go orders

Sometimes, host or hostess job duties may also include managing to-go orders, light cleaning around the restaurant (like wiping down menus and sweeping), and other tasks allocated by the management. 

How Much Does a Host or Hostess Make?

The average pay for a host or hostess is between $11 and $14 an hour, according to Indeed. Depending on the restaurant's tipping model, hosts might also be eligible for extra tips per shift, as well. 

How To Be a Host or Hostess at a Restaurant 

If you’re looking to become a host at a restaurant, there’s good news for you. Typically host jobs do not require previous restaurant experience and are a great way to get started in the industry.

This is an introductory role that will help you gain experience and build connections in the restaurant world. To find a host job near you, look at local restaurants, job boards (like Indeed or ZipRecruiter), or even community Facebook or NextDoor groups. 

Job Description Template

Job Description Template

Write great restaurant job descriptions with this job description template, a customizable Word doc that outlines responsibilities, requirements, and more.

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A host plays an essential role in a restaurant, and can really set the stage for a great guest experience. For more information on hiring staff and how to recruit a rockstar team, check out this post.

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