There is no question that there is often a front-of-house vs. back-of-house rift in most restaurants. What can be done about it is the big question.
Starts with you
Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record. Nonetheless, it is true. You are the one who gets to set the tone. You are the one who gets to decide if this kind of behavior will be tolerated. You are the one who can nip this in the bud with very little effort.
Whether you are the owner, chef, or chef-owner, you must take charge in this area before it takes over your restaurant like a cancer. And I promise you, your customers will soon beware of the trouble, too. Not necessarily the specific reason for the problems, but they will quickly start to sense that something is up.
Chat ’em up
So, I say unto you: Engage the back of the house. Not in a patronizing kind of way, but in a genuinely friendly kind of way. If you start, your staff will surely follow.
Encourage your servers to do the same. Make sure your servers are interested and curious about the food. That will help. Make sure your servers can talk about the food to the customers in a way that will please those who put a lot of effort into the preparation of it.
Make sure your servers are not counting their tips in front of the cooks. Make sure they are not sitting there drinking a beer in front of them, 2 hours before the poor line cooks get off of work.
If your servers are truly interested in the food, that is a common bond they can all share. If those same servers are making a supreme effort to get the food out as soon as it comes up, that will also help to solder positive relations.
Make them a mix tape
Okay, maybe it won’t be on cassette anymore, but sharing music you like with others really can bring people together. I have written before on the importance of engaging your staff:
If you do this, and make it the expectation of those who work for you, it will go a long way to easing tensions.
Don’t do this
I have worked for chefs who for whatever reason–maybe they thought it would bring them closer to their line cooks–decided it would be cool to make fun of the front-of-the-house folks. Talk about them as if they are a bunch of idiots.
These are the people who are out in the public eye representing you! Besides this obvious reason for not doing it, you are also giving your line cooks permission to dis the waiters! This will only lead to your ultimate demise.
Stay positive, treat all employees as equals, respect them, buy them an after-shift drink, feed them well, and you will wind up with happier employees, and therefore, happier customers.