BOH and FOH are both common abbreviations used in restaurant jargon. BOH stands for “back of house” and FOH stands for “front of house.”
Front of house, or FOH, is a quick way of referring to the front part of a restaurant and all the staff who works there, outside the kitchen, such as such as waiters or greeters, hosts, bartenders, barbacks, bussers, food runners, floor managers, and cashiers in restaurants who employ them. It is basically the opposite of back-of-house.
The term usually means all the public areas of a restaurant, not only including the dining rooms and bar, the front-door area, which may have a space for waiting, and the restrooms. It can simply be thought of as the part of the restaurant that guests see. Although the abbreviation FOH is used in written form, most people do not use it when speaking, and instead, say “front-of-house.”
Back of house, or BOH, is the part of the restaurant that diners don’t see, at least typically. It is the opposite, then, of front-of-house. The BOH includes the kitchen, offices, storage rooms and any other areas hidden from guests. If a restaurant is a show, then the BOH is the back-stage area.
Back-of-house staff includes anyone who works in the kitchen. This includes not only the chef and sous chef, but prep cooks, line cooks, dishwashers, or any other person who works as part of the kitchen crew, and is not involved in front-of-house operations.
Effective Communication Between the Front and Back of House is Key
A quite typical problem in restaurants is a lack of communication and animosity between the back-of-house and front-of-house. Often, when things go wrong during busy periods, the FOH blames the BOH, and vice versa. Usually, this comes down to a break-down in the lines of communication. Many restaurants use an expeditor to help with this problem. An expeditor is a liaison between the BOH and FOH and works to make sure the plates get out to the guests properly and quickly and often performs a final quality check. Often, the expeditor is the executive chef or sous chef. Besides an effective expeditor to handle the flow from the kitchen to the dining area, restaurants often hold staff meetings including the BOH and the FOH staff, to ensure that the entire house receives the same communication.
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