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May 6, 2006 10:46 PM

When is a Split Charge Appropriate?

  • j

My wife and I split a pizza, a pasta dish and an osso bucco and we were charged a $2 split charge. I think that this was petty on behalf of the restaurant. If we had only ordered a single dish between the 2 of us, I could see the split charge but, we ordered 3 dishes plus drinks. Opinions please.

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  1. depends if it was listed on the menu.

    if it's the policy clearly stated, then buyer beware.

    i agree that is seems petty--try to ask first in the future.

    if you are the ones dividing the dish, no charge. But if you ask the staff to do it, then check to see if there is a charge. I imagine at high end restaurants, should be no charge, IMO

    1. Hm, didn't you leave out a few details...

      Was it served in three courses? Did you each get a plate per course plus the serving plate? Was this $2 per item ($6 total), or one $2 charge for all three?

      You didn't give enough information for me to decide, though I am leaning against you. I would add that a split-order charge should be on the menu, but you don't state whether it was or wasn't.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SteveT

        3 courses.

        We each got a plate plus the serving plate for the pizza. The pasta and osso bucco were each served on 2 seperate plates.

        There was only 1 $2 charge.

        I believe that the menu stated $2.50 for a split.

        Again, my question is of appropriateness. In my experience when 2 people order 3 dishes the split charge is waved.

        I thought that its purpose was to charge when 2 people come in and order 1 dish between the 2 of them to split.

        1. re: JB

          Which you did. You were fairly charged IMHO. They charged you less than stated split charge, but you also split 2 dishes. Geesh, is the angst worth it?

      2. Split charge should be when 2ppl eat 1dish.

        Fkm. Subtract $2 from tip. Unfair? Yeah but waiter should
        tell you what's up or stop workin for fkkrs.


        4 Replies
        1. re: Gumball
          JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          English, please.

          And don't you DARE take it out on the waiter when it's the restaurant's policy. The waiter had nothing to do with it, and quite literally lives on tips. But then, that topic has been discussed ad nauseam, so I'd better shut up about it now ;-)

          If the menu mentions a service charge, then the restaurant is entitled to go ahead and do the split plate charge since they warned you beforehand no matter how many plates you order. I personally think that split plate charges are absolutely preposterous unless they're giving you something extra besides a second plate; if a place is THAT desperate to make an extra buck, I think they'd be better off to raise the prices by 10 or 20 cents across the board and make splitting plates something you can do for no charge. The *one* restaurant I have seen do a justifiable plate split charge is AZ88 in Scottsdale AZ. They charge $2.50 for a split order on the sandwiches or burgers, but for the $2.50 you get an extra portion of the side order.


          1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

            The Bifteque (Sp) does this too. If you are willing to share your sides, like your salad and potato, then they will just serve your meal divided into 2 servings, but if you pay the fee, you will get separate sides for each person.

            1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

              I don't necessarily think split charges are "preposterous." I work at a restaurant where we serve very large portions, and I WISH we had a split charge. I think they simply discourage patronage from the wrong type of clientele. There's nothing more frustrating than having to wait on two people who only drink water, eat obscene amounts of the free bread and split the most inexpensive dish on the menu. These people are typically (not always, but 9/10 of the time) concerned only with eating as much as they can for as little money as possible. They don't tip well, and even getting 20% off a meal that barely breaks the $10 mark doesn't begin to compensate the staff for the effort that went into serving these people. It might sound harsh, but if you really can't afford to go out to dinner, don't go out, and don't make the people who wait on you suffer because you're too cheap to pay for a real meal.

              That being said, the split charge on your bill, under the circumstances you outlined, DOES seem preposterous. I would never argue that a split charge should be added to a 2-top that orders THREE dishes, particularly if it didn't require anything additional on the part of the kitchen in terms of preparation.

              And don't assume the charge wasn't the server's fault. Plenty of places leave automatic gratuities and extra charges up to the server's discretion, and if there's a key for the additional charge in the computer system, he could easily have snuck it onto the bill in order to up the total.

              1. re: Al_Pal

                one thing....."wrong type of clientele"..?

          2. A split charge is greed....NEVER appropriate...

            4 Replies
            1. re: gudeatz

              never worked in a kitchen huh?.......

              1. re: gudeatz

                Not true- split charges are fine when you are sitting 2 and ordering for 1, but in this case it seems excessive, but why get worked up over 2 bucks?

                1. re: gudeatz

                  Chef's perspective (here's why we do it):
                  we prepare additional sauce, vegetable, starch and garnish (extra cost)
                  need to make "x" amount per table to be profitable (split plates reduce this number.)
                  fine dining restaurants operatate on smaller margins than casual, high-volume restaurants.
                  I am not asking anyone to feel sorry for restaurant owners, but please realize that there are legitimate reasons for these charges--it is not just greed.

                  1. re: Boris1

                    I'm not taking either side of the appropriateness of the split charge...i guess i really don't have a strong opinion on it. I totally understand your reasoning about the extra sauce, veg, etc + labor involved on the staff's part, but what if the dish is prepared and presented in exactly the same way as it would be to a single person and then just split at the table by the dining party? Should there still be the fee b/c of the reason you stated about the restaurant needing to make "x" per table to be profitable, or do you think in that case, there should not be a fee.

                2. i don't think it's ever appropriate, especially in this case where 3 courses were ordered. i think charging people for splitting dishes looks petty, greedy, and just sours someone's dining experience. if you really think about it, splitting a dish is not that big of deal and can make the difference in whether guests leave happy and come back, or leave unhappy and tell everyone about it. i've waited on several couples who asked to split an entree, were thrilled that we happily accomodated them as well as split the dish on two plates, and have come back with friends (and each ordered their own dish). it's not great for your sales average, but you really only encounter people who want to split an entree once, maybe twice, a night.

                  the one thing i hate about people splitting a dish is when they complain later that the portions are too small!!