Whats it like to work front of house

Nicole’s story

Nicole has been working front of house for the past two years. Here’s her story.

What do you like about working front of house?

The main thing for me is meeting new people. A huge variety of personalities come into the restaurant, and they all have different attitudes and tastes.

In this job, you really get to understand people. I also like the fact that I don’t work the same hours every week. It gives me the flexibility to do what I want. Plus it’s nice being able to go for a drink or go shopping during the week when the city isn’t crowded with people.

What happens in a typical day working front of house?

Every day is different and you have to be constantly on your toes. There are certain things that we do every day, such as setting up, taking food and drinks to the table, and speaking to the bar and kitchen to make sure everything is running smoothly.

It can be stressful when the kitchen is running late or the bar gives you the wrong drinks, but no matter what, we always have to stay positive so that the customer walks away happy.

What qualities would you say makes a great front of house?

You need to be a naturally outgoing, smiley person, and you need to be confident. There’s nothing worse than going into a restaurant or hotel and being greeted by somebody who’s miserable. So even if you’re not feeling great, it’s vital that you give the right impression to customers.

You also need to be able to handle stressful situations, be good at dealing with complaints and be fine working unsociable hours.

What are the biggest challenges you face in a typical week at work?

Orders being messed up. 95% of the time, everything runs smoothly. But occasionally the kitchen will forget that the burger we put through the till was meant to come with no mayo. Little things like this can ruin a customer’s meal.

Trying to manage the situation so that they don’t leave the restaurant never wanting to come back is difficult, but it’s doable with the right attitude. New staff can also be a problem, especially if they’re thrown into the deep end having never worked in this sort of environment before.

What are the hours like?

It depends, as no two places are the same. From my experience, shifts tend to be long and you often end up working busy weekend shifts. It’s not quite the same if you’re working in hotels or doing sports events, but wherever you work, you should expect to work hard.

What types of establishments do you tend to work at e.g. hotels, restaurants, gastropubs or other?

I’ve worked at hotels, restaurants and gastropubs, and I’ve also done a bit of work at a rugby stadium. I prefer restaurants and gastropubs myself, though working at the stadium was also good because it meant I didn’t have to work late on weekends.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into your line of work?

Be prepared for awkward moments, because they often happen. People can say some odd stuff, especially with a few drinks down them. And I’ve had some odd requests too. One guy asked for his burger without the “bit in the middle”. Always expect the unexpected, and be professional at all times.

I’d also suggest going to an agency to get your first job as they’ll be able to help you understand what the job’s going to be like before you start. It can be scary at first, and this reduces the potential awkwardness.

Why have you chosen to work as a temp in this line of work?

I like working in different places, finding out how they work, and meeting new people. If you love what you do, you don’t want to only experience it in one place. Working as a temp is more flexible too. You’ve got more options and you can fit the job around your life.

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