HOSTS/HOSTESSES, RESTAURANT California Occupational Guide Number 500 Interest Area 9 1995
Restaurant HOSTS or HOSTESSES may be responsible for a variety of job duties. Because they are the first employees whom most customers meet when they enter a restaurant, Hosts and Hostesses serve a major role in establishing the atmosphere for their guests. They courteously greet patrons and direct them to their tables or accompany them to waiting areas until their tables are ready. Commonly, Hosts or Hostesses will take and schedule reservations, assign guests to tables suitable to the size of each group, escort them to their seats, and provide menus. They may assist customers in planning special events such as parties and banquets and supervise and coordinate the activities of the dining room staff.
Because they play such an important role in making meals enjoyable and the surroundings inviting and comfortable for their patrons, their job duties also include adjusting customer complaints and inspecting serving stations to insure that they are clean, neat, and contain the necessary dining room supplies. Hosts and Hostesses may also serve as cashiers.
The duties of Hosts and Hostesses are not limited to the actual dining room operations. Other common duties may include the tasks of interviewing, hiring, and training new staff, as well as discharging unsatisfactory personnel. They may be responsible for the scheduling of work hours and for keeping time records of the restaurant staff. Some employers may ask them to prepare and make bank deposits. They may also be asked to help plan the restaurant's menu.
Although the job duties of a Host or Hostess may be wide and diverse, the range and scope of their actual responsibilities are dependent on the establishment which employs them.
Hosts and Hostesses work in a variety of different settings and environments, ranging from formal dining establishments to coffee shops. There is some pressure involved in the work, especially when Hosts and Hostesses must maintain a smooth running operation during hectic lunch and dinner rush periods.
Employers may provide uniforms, however, some Hosts and Hostesses are required to provide their own clothing. In some of the finer dining establishments, formal-wear is required.
Many employers who use this occupation find it difficult to recruit new people when their hosts or hostesses leave.
The employment outlook for this occupation is good. The total number of job opportunities is expected to grow at a moderate rate through 2005. By 2005 there should be over 37,000 host/hostesses employed in California, an increase of 36 percent from the 1990 figure of 27,500. Another 6,190 job openings will develop as workers retire or leave this occupation for other reasons such as retirement or changes of career goals.
WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS
Wages paid for the Host/Hostess occupation vary greatly from one restaurant to the next. Salaries for those entering the occupation with no previous experience range from $4.25 to $8.75 an hour. Salaries for those with previous experience may earn up to $12.00 an hour. Maximum salaries for experienced hosts or hostesses range from about $7.00 to $13.50 an hour.
Most restaurant workers, including Hosts and Hostesses, are expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some employees work split shifts by working a few hours at mid-day, taking time off during the afternoon, then returning to work the evening shift. The wide range of hours available to restaurant workers creates a good opportunity for part-time work and makes this line of work particularly suitable for students.
The fringe benefits available to Hosts and Hostesses also vary widely from one restaurant to the next. Most employers offer food and beverage discounts during an employee's shift. Some of the larger restaurants offer health benefit plans and paid vacations. A few of the larger, chain-type restaurants offer profit-sharing plans to their employees.
The primary union representing restaurant Hosts and Hostesses is the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (AFL-CIO).
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING
Hosts or Hostesses should be courteous and well-groomed. They must have strong customer relations skills and be able to work coolly under pressure. They should be able to operate a cash register and be adept at making change. Basic accounting and bookkeeping skills are often required, also.
Most employers prefer to train their own personnel. Other than basic on-the-job training, there are no specific training or educational requirements for hosts or hostesses, although many employers prefer high school graduates. However, for those interested in a career in restaurant work, there are many schools offering general and specialized programs in various restaurant occupations. The Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (address below) offers a directory of colleges and schools offering programs in this field of work.
Job advancement for Hosts and Hostesses varies from one restaurant to the next. In restaurants where job duties are limited to greeting and seating customers, they may advance to a waiter or waitress position. In establishments where their job duties are more extensive, they may advance to dining room supervisor or restaurant manager.
Competition for jobs should be intense at the most popular restaurants and those specializing in sophisticated and formal dining experiences.
FINDING THE JOB
The best way to secure a host or hostess position is to apply directly to prospective employers. Once the contact is made and the application is left with the prospective employer, the job seeker should check periodically to be sure their applications are still active. Job openings for this occupation are often filled through the California Employment Development Department Job Service offices. Applicants should also check newspaper want ads for job leads.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
The California Restaurant Association 3455 Wilshire Blvd., Suite. 2230 Los Angeles, CA 90010 (213) 384-1200
Council on Hotel Restaurant, and Institutional Education 1200 17th Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036-3097 (202) 331-5900
RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES
Waiters/Waitresses No. 42 Flight Attendants No. 79 Dining Room Attendants (Bus Persons) No. 523
OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES
DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1) Host/Hostess Restaurant 310.137-010
OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Hosts/Hostesses-Restaurant 650020
Source: State of California Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916)262-2162.