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The owner of every food service business wants to tickle the taste buds of the restaurant’s clientele. Meanwhile, they also want the establishment to be a celebration of hospitality. Responsibility for these two areas lies with two independent yet inextricably linked areas: the kitchen staff, referred to in the industry as “back of house,” and the service staff, known as “front of house.”
So how can restaurant managers and owners promote harmony between between back of house staff and front of house staff?
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Personnel Clashes Between Kitchen and Service Can Lead to Mini-Wars
Harmony between kitchen and service is an important factor for a positive guest experience. However, often the two collide unchecked. In many cases, this can have serious consequences.
A mini-war between service and kitchen often ends with unhappy guests. That is rarely in the best interests of the business. It’s true that the relationship between kitchen staff and serving staff is severely tested on some days. There are frequently situations in which the needs of the kitchen staff clash with the needs of the serving staff.
New members to both kitchen and service staff can immediately pick up on who are the “friends” and who are the “enemies” in a particular hospitality business.
The whole scenario is reminiscent of an elderly married couple who demand a lot from each other. All the while, each is unhappy about the decisions and actions of the other partner over the years. And each gives loud vent to their displeasure. Nonetheless, they are dependent on each other.
Fast Pace and Stress Lead to Conflict Between Kitchen and Servers
Even where the prevailing mood is good, stress can lead to conflict situations. After all, there are plenty of flash points and lots of potential for conflict in a fast-moving food service business.
Sometimes a client complains that their food is not hot enough, or the server is unfriendly. Perhaps the guest did not get the meal they thought they ordered, or the food is simply a disaster.
On the other hand, in many food service businesses, neither side actually has direct disdain for the other. In these establishments, members might even carry on a running joke with each other about the cliche of the eternal battle between kitchen and service. However, from time to time there can be serious friction and conflicts in the day-to-day stress.
Nonetheless, in the food service industry it is vital that the kitchen and service teams function as a unit. They need to work together like the cogs of a watch for the success of the business. But maintaining this kind of collaboration is a challenge for everyone in times of stress.
Small Actions Can Promote Harmony Between Kitchen and Service
Tips are frequently a bone of contention between the kitchen and the servers. Guests naturally give tips to the servers, as they have the direct contact.
In order to head off conflict, managers and owners should establish a policy that requires service staff and kitchen staff to share tips equally. When this is the case, the kitchen staff feels valued and everyone operates with greater harmony.
Take a Break and Spend Quality Time Together
A meal taken together can help people get to know each other better. Alternatively, everyone could go out for a drink together after a long day.
In other words, spend time together outside of the workplace. This can’t help but improve relationships. Kitchen staff and wait staff alike can have fun together and share funny stories with each other. A cardinal rule to remember, though, is that what happens in the restaurant stays in the restaurant.
Just as the elderly married couple mentioned earlier could benefit from a good dose of courtesy, so could kitchen and service staff in many food service businesses.
This may sound simple, but during the most stressful times of the day it can be difficult. During rush hour, when there are lots of guests waiting for their meals, the staff in the kitchen is doing their best to prepare everything fresh and with high quality. Meanwhile, the wait staff is hurrying to take orders and bring guests their food. In these pressure-cooker conditions, people sometimes forget to stick together.
Here, a little simple courtesy can go a long way. A friendly smile shared with a coworker and a few nice words can soothe ruffled feelings, especially in a stressful situation.
It’s important to remember that a few small changes are frequently enough to improve the situation between the front of house and the back of house.
Everyone just needs to be aware that they are dependent on each other. Therefore, both kitchen staff and service staff must operate in harmony with each other and strive to be a team, despite the differences in their individual activities.