The maître d'hôtel (pronounced [m?:t dot?l] ; French for ''master of the house''), head waiter, host, waiter captain, or maître d' ( MAY-tr? DEE, MAY-t?r -) manages the public part, or "front of the house", of a formal restaurant. The responsibilities of a maître d'hôtel generally include supervising the waiting staff, welcoming guests and assigning tables to them, taking reservations, and ensuring that guests are satisfied.
In large organizations, such as certain hotels, or cruise ships with multiple restaurants, the maître d'hôtel is often responsible for the overall dining experience, including room service and buffet services, while head waiters or supervisors are responsible for the specific restaurant or dining room they work in.
Food writer Leah Zeldes writes that the role of maître d'hôtel originated as a kind of combined "host, headwaiter and dining-room manager" and, in the past, persons with this role were sometimes responsible for such operations as tableside boning of fish and mixing of salads.