The maître d’ (short for maître d’hôtel - plural, maîtres d'; maîtres d'hotel, in the original French) literally "master of the hotel" in a suitably staffed restaurant or hotel is the person in charge of assigning customers to tables in the establishment and dividing the dining area into areas of responsibility for the various servers on duty. The maître d' may also be the person who receives and records reservations for dining, as well as dealing with any customer complaints. It is also his duty to make sure that all the servers and waitstaff are completing their tasks in an efficient manner. In small restaurants, the post is also known as the headwaiter or host. This term originated from medieval courts, where the holder was an important courtier, like Olivier de la Marche in 15th century Burgundy.
In large organizations such as hotels or cruise ships where restaurants are more frequent, the maître d’ is often responsible for the overall dining experience including room service and buffet, and customer satisfaction, while the headwaiters or supervisors are responsible for the specific restaurant or dining room they work in.