Front of the House Mise en Place

In the kitchen, in most restaurants, the phrase ‘mise en place’ has been known to come up from time to time.  This French term for ‘set in place’ is uber valuable for all of those working in the kitchen.  Making sure you have everything you will need for that evening’s festivities is important if you want to be successful at getting out food that is consistently good, and in a timely fashion.

Front of the house, too!

The same holds true for the front of the house.  The rule applies to all front of the house positions, and it is up to you to train the staff, so they will be set up for success.

Does the host have sharpened pencils, erasers for the reservation book?  Even if you are using an online reservation system, or not taking reservations at all, they likely will need to write notes and pass them on to servers, assuring birthdays, anniversaries are recognized, and that severe customer allergies are brought to their attention.  Better have some post-its, too.

Waiters need to have pens and wine keys at the ready, but their mise en place goes way beyond that.  Do they know the specials?  Are they up on the day’s ice cream flavors?  Are they familiar with what spirits are available in your bar?  Are they up to date on what wines and beers you are pouring by the glass?


I think this rule applies especially to the bussers. Those bussers are the backbone of your establishment, and need to be sure they have everything they need to get through the night.  Imagine not being able to seat paying customers because you can’t find any napkins. This used to drive me crazy:  Bussers would come up to me at 7:15 (just as we were about to get our collective butts kicked by the next big rush), and tell me that we were out of water glasses.

Don’t tell me that

Don’t get me wrong, it is obviously important that the manager on duty knows these things, but not at 7:15!  If those bussers were properly trained, (and they were), they should be giving me that information at 4:00, giving me a chance to do something about it.

So. as part of the training, get your staff to anticipate.  Look at the reservations, or even if you don’t take reservations you have some idea of what business to expect, and prepare accordingly.

Well-oiled machine

Your goal at the start of every meal period is to have it go as smoothly as possible.  Remember, the customers are going to challenge you, and if you want to be up to that challenge, you must make sure that you are ready for whatever comes your way.  It starts with proper mise en place.


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