How to Handle a Busy Wait as a Hostess

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Being a host or hostess at a restaurant is a very important job - one that does not get enough credit. Taking care of the guests at the door when things get busy and a wait ensues is critical for them to leave with an overall positive opinion of the restaurant.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Menus
  • When someone walks in the door of your restaurant, always make sure to give them your full attention and flash a smile. Greet them with a friendly "hello" so they feel welcome.

  • Ask how many people will be dining in the restaurant that evening and make sure to find out if there are small children that would require a high chair or booster seat. Write this information down on a Waiting List.

  • Ask for the guest's name and write that on the Waiting List. Feel free to make a quick note next to the name so that you can remember the guest easily when a table becomes available.

  • Ask if the guest has a smoking preference and write that on the Waiting List also. Many restaurants have both a smoking and non-smoking section, so it is important to make sure people receive a table in the area they would feel most comfortable in. Then tell the guest what the estimated wait time is, and be sure to give a realistic estimate or else you are setting yourself up for unhappy guests later on.

  • Provide an estimated wait time. After guests have been added to the Waiting List and an estimated wait time has been given to them, offer menus to allow the guests to make their decision at the table much quicker. Give coloring tools (if your restaurant has them) to children to keep them entertained.

  • Help others. If there is more than one host or hostess, be sure to help out the servers on the floor with cleaning tables and resetting silverware in order to make the wait go as quickly as possible. This will also show the guests waiting that you are doing everything you can to accommodate them in a timely fashion.

  • Be patient. If guests are not happy with the amount of time they have waited and they come to the hosting stand, always remember to be as kind and patient as possible. Guests come to the restaurant to have an enjoyable evening out of their homes, so try to make it as stress-free as possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not spend excessive time talking with servers and joking around. Guests notice this behavior, and it can be frustrating if they think they are being put on the back burner.
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