4 Things I've Learned As A Restaurant Hostess
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4 Things I've Learned As A Restaurant Hostess

4 Things I've Learned As A Restaurant Hostess

A few weeks ago, I started working as a hostess at a local restaurant. Although I haven't been a hostess for long, I've already learned a number of things that I never thought about as a customer and I think would be valuable to share with others. Keep in mind that these lessons are solely based off of the way the specific restaurant I work at is run and may not directly transfer to all other restaurants. Still, many of these seem to have some degree of universality to them, and thus, spreading this knowledge could help build greater understanding of the food service industry. Here are some of the things I've learned so far:

1. There's no secret formula for wait times.

As a restaurant customer, I always thought there was some methodical way to calculate wait times. I'd tell the host we were a party of four that preferred outside seating, and he or she would take a look at the list and report back a calculated number of minutes we'd have to wait before being seated. In my experience as a hostess so far, I've realized this isn't exactly the case. If the party is of moderate size (around three to six people) and is near the top of the list, I usually say the wait is about 10-15 minutes. If there are already a couple of parties on the list, I say 15-20. And lastly, if the list is really long and/or the party is really big and we'll need a few tables to free up before we can seat them, I say it'll be about 30 minutes, or over 30 minutes. Usually, these estimates are pretty accurate, but on some occasions, they're way off. The latter is typically due to unpredictable customer behavior, however, which I will address in the next list item.

2. Extended waits are usually due to parties staying at their tables long after they've finished eating and paid.

Sometimes, parties that have finished eating and paid will stay at their tables chatting for significant periods of time afterward. Although this seems harmless from the customer perspective, it makes it very difficult for the host, because it prevents us from seating other parties in a timely manner. As a hostess, I usually assume that parties will leave around 10 minutes after paying. When this is not the case, parties' wait times become much longer than expected. While it may be nice to sit and talk after finishing and paying at a restaurant, try to be mindful of how busy it is and whether or not other parties may be waiting for your table.

3. We won't seat parties right before or right at closing time.

While parties that have already ordered or received their food are obviously allowed to remain in the restaurant to finish after closing time, we stop taking new parties about 5-10 minutes before closing time. This is because we need to make sure to take your order before the kitchen closes, and also because restaurant staff wants to go home near the end of their shifts. This is also why, if you are still at a restaurant past closing time, you should try your best not to stay too long keeping staff at work past the end of their shifts. Once it's past closing time, you should do your best to finish up promptly after paying.

4. We seat you where we have to seat you.

Have you ever been at a restaurant and wondered why the hostess sat you at a particular table when there was clearly a "much better table" available? While I'm not sure how it works at other restaurants, the restaurant I work at splits the floor up between the waiters. This means that every waiter has a designated section, and we seat the restaurant strategically. Sometimes, if a waiter's shift starts later or ends earlier, I'll try not to seat people in their section. Similarly, if one waiter already has a lot of tables but another waiter doesn't, I'll try to seat parties in the section that's more open. This drives much of the decision-making in seating, but if a party would rather sit somewhere else, we can usually accommodate it as long as they ask.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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