What is the Average Restaurant Hostess Salary?

Hostess Holding MenuIn most cases, the first person we see when dining out at a favorite restaurant is the host or hostess. This is the individual who greets us with a smile, asks how many in our party, and directs us to a waiting table. So, what is the average restaurant hostess salary, given the importance of the customer’s first impression?

We’ll get to the actual numbers in just a moment but we need to point out a couple of important things. First of all, the restaurant hostess salary varies significantly and is influenced by type of restaurant, geographic location, and targeted clientele. Secondly, some restaurants allow hostesses to keep their own tips while others mandate tips go to the house.

All things considered, what is the average pay for a hostess?

There are a couple of websites known as authorities on employment and salary issues, PayScale.com being one of them. According to their most recent numbers, restaurant hostesses earn between $15,000 and $26,200 annually, with tips included. On an hourly basis that works out to between $7.12 and $11.95.

It can be a bit challenging to get accurate numbers for the host or hostess because of the issue of tips. At restaurants where tips must go to the house, some customers are very specific about slipping a bill into the hand of the hostess and letting it be known she should keep it for herself. These tips go unreported as a result.

Even in some cases where hostess tips don’t go to the house they may still go unreported for tax purposes. It’s therefore assumed the low end of the salary numbers may not be completely accurate.

What are some examples of geographic differences?

Another Web-based authority on employment and salary issues is a website known as Simply Hired. They allow users to break down numbers based on state or a specific ZIP code. We’ll use New York City and Houston as just two examples of geographic disparity.

Simply Hired shows an average annual salary of $28,000 among the Big Apple’s restaurant hostesses. In Houston, the average salary is closer to $24,000. Simply Hired doesn’t specifically mention tips so it’s assumed they are included in the numbers.

It’s reasonable to conclude there are a larger number of upscale restaurants in New York paying hostesses a bit more than in Houston. With the numbers such as they are, it is also reasonable to conclude that hostesses at the most upscale restaurants in both cities do very well financially.

What is the job of the hostess?

With the actual numbers out of the way, the next question is one of job description: What does the hostess do? Furthermore, does the nature of the work make the job attractive from a financial standpoint?

The primary focus of the hostess is to create a great first impression by properly welcoming guests. She is generally posted just inside the restaurant lobby with a podium as her main workstation. During the busiest hours she takes names, gives estimated wait times, seats customers, and so on.

Another important function of the hostess is to answer customer questions about the menu and the day’s specials prior to seating them. If wait times are more than just a few minutes, she may also engage guests in conversation to help keep their minds off waiting. The hostess who is especially adept at interacting with children is invaluable to a restaurant.

Is the hostess position a stepping stone?

The position of hostess can be used as a stepping stone to wait staff or management in the right type of restaurant. In a small, family-owned restaurant, the host or hostess tends to be a family member not interested in working in the kitchen or waiting tables. But such is not the case everywhere.

In some very upscale restaurants, wait staff can earn a tremendous amount of money as well as a good reputation among affluent diners. Hostesses in these types of restaurants are known to use their position as a stepping stone to a better job as the server. Some seek to advance to management as well.

What makes for a good hostess?

The key to being a successful hostess is to have a positive attitude. Because the hostess is the one who creates the first impression, she can’t allow the pressure of the dinner hour, rude customers, or inconsiderate wait or kitchen staff to influence her mood.

The hostess with a positive attitude is one that always makes her guests feel welcome regardless of circumstances or time of day. For someone who enjoys interaction with people, it can be a very rewarding position. At the same time, it can be very tiring given the fact that the hostess is always on her feet and moving.

The job of the hostess is one of the most important in the restaurant business. It may be that these workers don’t get the credit they deserve, or the pay for that matter. Thank goodness for those dedicated to the profession. They make the dining experience much more pleasant for all of us.

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