Host/Hostess  What They Do

Just the Facts

Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop Career Video

Insider Info

dot"The tradition of grand and elegant service is kind of fading, but we're trying to re-energize the European-style training," says Mary Franchini. She is a maitre d' and associate professor of table service with a culinary institute in New York. "This field will always have a need for good, professional service. Many restaurants are known for that."

dotA word of French origin, maitre d' means "master of" -- as in master of the hotel or restaurant. A maitre d' is where the action is. They take reservations, greet patrons, deal with complaints, handle the bills and sometimes prepare food at the guest's table. They may also train and supervise serving staff.

"There'll always be room and a job -- a very good job -- if the person has the skills and wants to put in the time," says Paul Paz, president of the National Waiters Association. "Managing the restaurant or hotel food area requires a lot of effort. But it's very worthwhile and rewarding."

dot"It's very important to be physically capable of being on your feet for very long periods of time -- like 10 or 12 hours at times," says Randall Hodgson. He is a maitre d' at a hotel.

"You'll do a lot of walking. These are hard, long hours, especially around Christmas and New Year's when you'd better be ready to go from the moment you walk through the door."

Maitre d' Richard Nottingham logs 50 to 60 hours a week, which includes holidays and weekends.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Be the master of the restaurant

  • Math is just as important as knowledge of foods and beverages
  • You must be capable of being on your feet for very long periods of time
  • You'll need both professional instruction and hands-on experience