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6 tactics for unifying the front and back of house for restaurants

April 7, 2017

There are many moving parts in a restaurant—chefs developing recipes, line cooks mastering their art, servers trying to make diners happy, and general managers trying to keep the whole operation afloat.

While their jobs might differ, everyone should be working toward the same purpose: to see the restaurant succeed, work in a positive environment, and create an experience everyone can be proud of. But sometimes ideas for how to get there can get differ among the disparate teams responsible for making a restaurant work.

Without a flow of communication and procedures in place, the front of the house where customer engagement happens, and back of house where the “product” is literally being cooked up, can be on two different pages, making the entire restaurant operation seem disconnected and unorganized. To ensure a steady flow and a positive experience, there are a few things that front and back of house need to agree on and protocols that need to be put in place.

Agreeing on the “catch”

Every restaurant serves a specific need and has it’s own unique concept. In order to ensure restaurant success, the kitchen and the dining room must be unified on the overall concept of the establishment. Once the concept is developed and agreed upon, restaurants should convey the message consistently across all channels including:

  • Restaurant design
  • Type of cuisine
  • Food presentation
  • Menu design
  • Elevator pitch

From point-of-sale to back-of-house

POS systems have many functions that can strengthen communication between front and back of house. However, restaurants must know what these tools are, and agree between the front and the back how they will use their POS system to communicate.

Tools such as the Kitchen Display App, which is available in the Clover App Market, allow users to send orders submitted through the Clover Register or Tables app directly to the kitchen. The app allows orders to be routed based on preparation location and/or order type. If an order is late, the app will send an indication, allowing everyone to be on the same page about orders and their status.

Getting on the same page about the menu

One of the most important points of communication between front of house and back of house is about the restaurant menu. First and foremost, servers have to be knowledgeable about the menu, and the kitchen needs to keep service staff informed. The kitchen and the dining room have to be on the same page about what the menu items are, which allergens to be aware of, and which items can be substituted.

Often times, communication snafus can occur when servers try to make substitutions or adjustments to a dish that the kitchen can not accommodate. The kitchen staff must make sure that servers know exactly which substitutions are possible and how to communicate that to the kitchen during service.

Inventory management

Managing inventory of restaurant goods often falls on the shoulders of the kitchen staff, but the front of the house must also be aware of any inventory shortages or droughts. If items are missing or in short supply, there must be a way to communicate this with the service staff.

For this reason, back of house cloud-based tools such as SimpleOrder are key. Back of house management tools give anyone with access to the system a bird’s eye view of kitchen activity, from purchasing to menu pricing to exact inventory counts. This way, the general manager has access to inventory data and can view any shortages. The more transparent inventory is across all channels, the more likely that nothing will be overlooked and staff will be alerted.

Quality control and customer service

Another aspect that the front and back of house should agree on is how dishes should be explained to guests. Restaurants also have to determine protocols on how to deal with dishes that are sent back. What is the restaurant’s policy and how are servers expected to deal with unhappy customers?

Establishing point of contact and chain of command

During a busy service, few things are worse than having ten people come into the kitchen to relay information. In the most organized and efficient restaurants, there is one person assigned to relay information between front and back of house. Often, this is the general manager or the shift manager. Having one person in the front to pass information to one person in the kitchen ensures that service won’t be hectic and whatever the issue is, it will be dealt with.


SimpleOrder is a world-leading online inventory and purchasing platform, optimizing restaurant back-of-house operations, from the purchase order to the point-of-sale, for more than 1,500 locations in 14 countries. Integrated with a Clover POS, SimpleOrder Automatic Inventory reduces inventory levels for each dish restaurants sell and streamlines stock replenishment in real-time.

[image: NYWCC_Viking_Kitchen by Visit Finger Lakes on flickr]