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What Does a Restaurant Hostess Do?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

The specific duties of a restaurant hostess can vary depending on the restaurant in which she works, but in most scenarios, the hostess is the public face of the restaurant who greets guests when they enter the facility. The term "hostess" refers to a female member of a restaurant team, though men can also do this job; when a man takes the position, he is known instead as the host. The job is identical regardless of the employee's sex, however. A restaurant hostess may be responsible for managing the seating arrangements within the restaurant as well as answering questions about the menu or other concerns a guest may have.

Other duties the restaurant hostess may have include taking reservations over the phone or in person, accommodating large groups, making special arrangements for children or disabled people, and in some cases even operating a cash register. Some restaurants will hire a hostess who can manage all of the money from the evening's business, and the restaurant hostess will therefore be responsible for doing some basic to moderate bookkeeping. Other clerical duties may also fall on the shoulders of the hostess, though her primary duties are usually more focused on accommodating guests.

When guests enter a restaurant, the restaurant hostess is usually the first employee they will see. This means the hostess must be friendly, professional, well-dressed, and ready to greet the guests immediately. The hostess will often dress differently than the rest of the wait staff to distinguish herself from them and make sure she is easily recognizable should a guest need her services. The level of formality a restaurant hostess must adhere to can vary depending on the type of restaurant. In very formal settings, the hostess may be required to dress a certain way and exhibit specific manners in keeping with the restaurant's overall decor.

Before an employee can become a restaurant hostess, it is likely that she will need to undergo some training in order to prepare for the job duties. Most restaurants do not require the candidate to have any specific level of education, but the hostess must be able to exhibit exceptional manners, do basic to moderate math, and have impeccable communications skills. Training may involve use of a cash register, managing a ledger, managing tables and wait staff, or other duties relevant to a specific restaurant setting. The best hostesses will be prepared to discuss the menu and be able to make wine recommendations or other drink recommendations.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon977344 — On Nov 10, 2014

@tigers88- As someone who has worked in restaurants most of his adult life, I can tell you that many places won't hire hostesses straight off the street. Your best bet is to seek out a serving position, and then gain enough customer service experience to impress the manager. In many of the places I've worked, the position of host/hostess was usually a promotion from server. The hostess/host is often a supervisory position over the front of the house (servers, cashiers, bussers, etc), so it helps to have some restaurant experience.

I will say that most servers in upscale restaurants can earn more in wages and tips than host/hostesses. When I was a host, I only earned a little more than minimum wage. Sometimes I'd get a percentage of the servers' tips if that was the restaurant's policy, but usually I just made my salary. You might just want to become a relief person for the regular host/hostess and see if you like the job.

By anon977343 — On Nov 10, 2014

Back when I was a restaurant host for a major hotel chain, I found out I was automatically over the servers in the chain of command. I had never actually been the "boss" of anyone before, and suddenly I was supposed to tell a 50 year old waitress who worked there for 25 years what to do. I also had to do some bookkeeping after the restaurant closed for lunch. Greeting and seating customers turned out to be the easiest part of my day.

I've worked just about every position in restaurants, and I'd have to say that hosting was one of the most demanding. I'd have customers waiting to cash out while the phone was ringing and others were waiting to be seated. The servers all had problems to report, and my manager would pick that time to yell at me for something that happened three hours ago. It may not be a high pressure job like line cook, but hosting can also be a real challenge.

By chivebasil — On Jan 12, 2013

My first job was as a hostess and it helped me to realize that I am way more of a back of the house person than a front of the house person.

In that first job I lasted for about three weeks before the owner gave the option of transferring to the kitchen or being fired. I went to the kitchen and have worked in various kitchens for 15 years now. I just didn't have what it took to be friendly to everyone that came through the door. If I am going to get through my shift I need to be able to scowl.

By tigers88 — On Jan 12, 2013

I have applied to hostess jobs all over town but I have not received a single call back. It's true that I don't have any restaurant experience, but I am upbeat and attractive and I thought that I would have no problem getting this kind of work. What am I doing wrong? Is there something that I should include on my applications to help me get my foot in the door?

By nextcorrea — On Jan 11, 2013

Some people will try to tell you that being a hostess is the easiest job in the restaurant. Usually the people saying this have never worked as one.

As a hostess you have to be constantly cheerful. You have to greet every guest that comes through the door like an old friend that you are glad to see. Plus, while maintaining this welcoming demeanor, you have to manage the seating of the entire restaurant, which is no small feat. I am not trying to say that being a hostess is grueling, but it is harder than it looks.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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