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The Job

Hosts and hostesses who may also be called maître 'ds, restaurant hosts/hostesses or dining room hosts, are the first individual guests see when they walk into a restaurant. They are generally stationed close to the entrance of the restaurant. They are responsible for greeting customers as they come into the restaurant and making them feel welcome.

Hosts and hostesses ask guests how many are in their party and inquire about their seating preferences. They find appropriate tables for each party and guide them to their table. They seat guests and give them menus. If the restaurant is busy, they will advise guests of the wait time and may direct them to the bar or to a seating area until their table is ready. They are expected to assure that guests are seated as soon as possible.

Hosts and hostesses answer phones calls, take reservations, and note the reservation in the reservation book. Individuals must be familiar with the menu so that they can answer questions from guests either on the phone or in person. This is especially important now that so many people have food allergies. In many cases, individuals also may make suggestions regarding menu choices.

A lot of this job is customer service. The host or hostess strives to make sure that customers have a good experience at the restaurant. They may check to assure that customers have been waited on in a timely fashion, that customers got their food and that the food prepared well. They may ask guests if they enjoyed their meal. It is up to the hosts and hostesses to ensure that the entire experience meets with customer’s expectations. If there is a problem, the host or hostess is expected to handle the problem or complaint immediately.

In certain restaurants, these individuals accept payment for meals, taking customers credit cards or cash. In others, this may be handled by a cashier. Individuals may also escort guests to the exit, get their coats from the coatroom or ask the valet to bring a customer’s car to the front.

Depending on the specific restaurant and its set up, the host or hostess often are in charge of coordinating the staff, making sure that everyone works together and that everything in the front of the house in the restaurant is working correctly.