Many people know that the maitre d' is the person who greets customers in a restaurant. But hosting is only part of the job. A maitre d' is a food service manager who performs many duties behind the scenes, in addition to greeting patrons.
Origin of the Job
Maitre d' is a shortening of the French term "maîtres d'hôtel" which literally means "master of the hotel." Traditionally, a maitre d' functioned as the general manager of a hotel. In the modern sense, a maitre d' refers to the manager of a dining room, sometimes referred to as the manager of the house.
The maitre d' is responsible for the overall management of the dining room. This includes managing the staff and making station assignments. Some in this position carry out public relations tasks, act as a host and ensure proper maintenance of the dining room. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that food service managers, including those with the title of maitre d', coordinate activities of the kitchen and dining room staff, and ensure that customers are properly served.
Not all restaurants have a maitre d'. In bistros and casual restaurants, the job of the maitre d' may be performed by managers and hosts. Managers take on the managerial aspect of the job, while hosts greet and seat patrons.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food service managers, including those working as a maitre d', earned a median annual wage of $47,960 in 2013. This compares favorably to the median wage of all occupations in the United States, which was $34,750 a year in 2013. Hosts, who perform some duties of the maitre d' in casual restaurants, earn considerably less. The median wage for hosts was just $18,640 a year in 2013.