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Hostesses greet guests as they enter a restaurant and show them to their table. A hostess must provide menus, estimate how long guests will have to wait for a table, rotate sections so that all servers have the same number of guests, and communicate with the kitchen about large parties. Some hostesses close out guest checks and collect payments. As it says on the Snag a Job website, “hosts and hostesses are the ultimate restaurant multi-taskers.” Hostesses also perform side duties at certain restaurants.
Hostesses maintain menus. Each night after the restaurant closes, examine the menus for spills, burns or tears. Repair or remove damaged menus. If the menu is laminated, wipe each menu with a damp cloth. The chef or the restaurant manager may print new specials or new menu items. Update all of the menus by inserting the page that lists the specials or the new menu items. If your restaurant posts specials on a sign, write the specials in large, legible letters.
The hostess may answer the telephone. Answer the phone in a polite, friendly tone. Answer questions about topics such as the hours of operation, particular menu items or directions to the restaurant. If the restaurant takes reservations over the phone, the hostess records the reservation. The restaurant’s main line is a primary communication for the entire restaurant staff. Kitchen staff, servers, bartenders and busboys are often not available by cell phone or email during their shift and must take calls on the restaurant telephone. If the call is for someone else, inform the caller that you need to put them on hold, then find the staff person as quickly as possible.
Busboys take primary responsibility for cleaning restrooms. In a busy restaurant, the restroom must be cleaned so often that the hostess will be asked to help. Wipe the counters, replenish the toilet paper and paper towels, sweep up anything that is on the floor, and take out the trash. Flush each toilet whose bowl is not empty.
If many orders must be delivered at the same time, the hostess may be asked to be a food runner. Go to the kitchen window to pick up the food. The kitchen manager or server will tell you where to bring the food.
Hostesses sometimes bus tables. Bring a tray and a rag to the table. Load the tray with the plates, glasses, silverware and napkins. Wipe the table with the rag. Be sure to wipe underneath the place where you put the tray on the table. Bring everything to the dish room. Throw food and napkins into the trash. Pour liquids out of cups and place them in the cup rack. Put plates on the plate rack. Return the tray and rag to the place where you found them.
Dawn Trautman has been a writer for fifteen years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Valparaiso University and master's degrees from Luther Seminary and New York University.