Restaurant Host Job Description
A restaurant goer’s first impression is set by the host, who is there to greet, seat, and keep guests happy before they start their meals. This entry-level position is ideal for the social set—people-people who’ve never met a stranger and could score an A+ in small talk. Being able to diffuse difficult situations involving hungry people and thinking on your feet come in handy with this job. Restaurant hosts generally have flexible schedules and can work either full-time or part-time, making it a great gig for students in need of extra cash. Shifts generally vary and may include holidays and weekends or require late nights depending on the restaurant’s hours.
Restaurant Host Duties and Responsibilities
A restaurant host’s responsibilities will range from restaurant to restaurant depending on its location, size, hours, and cost, but a few core tasks are almost always associated with the job. Based on listings we analyzed, these duties are typically assigned to restaurant hosts.
As the first people customers encounter when they walk through the door, restaurant hosts set the tone for a guest’s dining experience. Hosts greet customers and show them to their seats or estimate wait time if all tables are filled. When hosts escort guests to their tables, they hand out menus and sometimes recite the specials and take drink orders.
Manage the Seating Plan
One of the most important responsibilities restaurant hosts take on is seating customers based on the wait staff’s section availability. Hosts must plan carefully on their feet, taking into consideration how long tables will turn around (since diners will be at different stages in their meals), upcoming reservations, and what table options need to stay open for parties of different sizes.
Schedule Phone and Online Reservations
Another key part of a restaurant host’s job is booking reservations. Hosts record all new reservations in a paper or digital planner that’s shared with other hosts. When changes are required, restaurant hosts are also responsible for canceling and shifting around reservations.
Fill Takeout Orders
Restaurant hosts are first in line for manning the phone that’s typically located at their station. Along with answering questions from customers, restaurant hosts take to-go orders and relay them to the kitchen staff. Once the food is prepared, hosts may pack and hand off takeout bags for pickup or delivery.
Assist in Restaurant Maintenance
Hosts help out with opening and closing tasks such as setting tables, prep work, and cleaning. They must also maintain their station during their shift by clearing clutter, sweeping, and keeping the front entryway clean.
Restaurant Host Skills and Qualifications
People with warm, upbeat demeanors who enjoy working with all manner of personalities and have no trouble smoothing over complicated situations will thrive as restaurant hosts. Prior experience as a host is generally not required. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
- Interpersonal skills – patience, listening, and communicating with a confident but friendly attitude are all people skills a restaurant host must tap into while assisting customers
- Physical requirements – working at a restaurant may demand certain physical requirements. Hosts are typically on their feet for six to eight hours at a time and are occasionally tasked with cleaning or carrying heavy objects
- Planning and organizing – restaurant hosts regularly manage reservations, assign tables, estimate wait times, and maintain a clean, uncluttered workspace
- Memorization – hosts will be expected to learn the restaurant’s food and drink menu, daily specials, and table layout
- Collaboration – restaurant hosts are part of a team and must work seamlessly with the wait staff, other hosts, and the restaurant’s management
- Multitasking – the duties restaurant hosts take on will often be managed simultaneously throughout a shift, which means they must be able to prioritize tasks
Restaurant Host Education and Training
There are no minimum educational requirements to become a restaurant host. Hosts typically receive on-the-job training from their colleagues to learn how to perform their duties, restaurant policies, and how to use equipment like phones and reservation tools. In addition to hands-on training, some restaurants provide written manuals and more formal trainings on company protocol and kitchen safety.
Restaurant Host Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the national median annual salary for restaurant hosts as $19,980, with a median hourly wage of $9.60. Restaurant hosts in the 10th percentile earn close to $17,000 a year (or $8.17 an hour), while the highest paid make $29,000 a year ($13.76 hourly).
Hosts don’t typically receive a share of a tab’s tips, but some restaurants require that tips are split among all staff. Depending on the restaurant, benefits like healthcare and paid time off may be available to employees who work a certain number of hours.
According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, there are over 400,000 restaurant hosts employed in the United States. This sector is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026.
Restaurant Host Helpful Resources
We searched the web for the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a restaurant host. Here are more ways to learn whether becoming one is right for you.
Restaurant Workers Association – this organization made up of industry professionals provides educational services, resources, and tools to restaurant workers
The Art of Hosting: The Complete Training Guide for Waiters and Restaurant Hosts – written by Gerard A. Pollion, this insider’s guide to employment in restaurants is for beginners as well as more seasoned workers
Career Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop Host and Hostess (Special Edition) – people on the job hunt will find this in-depth guide to getting hired as a restaurant host, with tips on how to make the most of the job and finding promotional opportunities, helpful
8 Tips for Restaurant Hosts and Waitresses – impress at your interview with insider tips from this video outlining the tenets that make a great restaurant host
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