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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.

          Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

          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!!

                  1. No split charge, no corkage, no cake plating fee. Why go to a restaurant? They are providing a service, this is how they make money to pay for their product, staff, utilities, rent. It seems many CHers feel nickeled and dimed, I can attest that restaurants feel the same way.

                    1. Often a restaurant will charge a "split" charge (notice it isn't a "share" charge) when splitting the dish onto two (or more) plates requires that a larger portion be served for it to be aesthetically pleasing... Most chefs would rather give a portion (if it's a split) that is larger than half, to not have their plated dish look shabby. You're getting more, therefore, you should pay for it. Many restaurants refuse to split dishes for this reason. Nobody should ever be charged for share plates. That's greedy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: corkdork

                        ITA that people shouldn't be charged for share plates.

                      2. I'd say if they split the food in half for you on two separate plates, then they can charge. I never say "yes" to them splitting the plate whether there is a charge or not. Completely content doing it myself. It definitely does seem petty to charge you when you ordered two or more meals though.

                        1. I'm reviving this thread instead of starting a new one...I was thinking about this topic recently because my mom & I often go out to eat together, and neither of us has a very big appetite so we often share, usually one app, one entree, and one dessert. We're both (ahem) economical people who do not enjoy a split plate charge, so if there is one listed on the menu, one of us will order the app and the other will order the entree, and then we just share - which is totally fine for us. However, many restaurants will split for free - and very nicely at that. This solution to the split plate charge has worked out very well for us at dozens if not hundreds of meals.

                          I know that restaurant owners need to make money to stay in business, but I do have to quarrel with the idea that there is a predetermined amount that people are obligated to eat when they eat out. I'm a smaller-than-average person and I know how much food I need, and sometimes it's not that much. Sometimes I get my leftovers to go - and they don't charge for that. And I think sharing is really fun. Bottom line is, I'm happy to pay for what I order - but I don't think I should have to pay more to eat less.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: aching

                            Many places, when they charge a split plate fee, actually plates the 1 meal on 2 plates. When my friend and I did a split at a restro for a pasta dish, they brought out 2 plates that looked as if they were a whole entree rather than half. We have eaten there before so we do know their portion sizes. Since the meal is over $15 and the split was $5, it was a bargain! Whenever we go to this place, this is how we now order. If you think of it as Buy 1 get another 1/2 plate of the same for only $5, then it may not seem as horrible.

                            1. re: aching

                              I agree with aching. Some restaurant portions are huge, especially when you only weigh about 105 pounds. I'm as into trying great chow as the next 'hound, I just physically can't eat it all at once--I guess I'm like a mini poodle 'hound, as I can't eat as much as a great dane. I can almost always make two and often even three meals out of the typical restaurant serving size. And I've been a server before, so I understand that end of things, and also that it ends up increasing the food cost to split on entree on two plates because of extra sides and garnishes. Sharing should be free, but a split fee is appropriate because of the added cost to the restaurant.

                              1. re: diva360

                                I can totally relate. I barely break one hundred lbs and sometimes worry the waiter gets annoyed when i don't order much. I try to tip really well b/c of this...i don't want to feel like i shouldn't be able to enjoy really nice restaurants just b/c my average bill is going to be less than most people's. Forget appetizer, entree, and dessert for me. It just isn't going to happen. I can't eat that much and hate wasting.

                            2. In my experience, good restaurants will frequently split the protein between two plates, but put whole servings of the veggies/starch on the side. I think this justifies a surcharge. If you're really just getting half of everything, any extra charge is a rip-off. With portion sizes being so huge in most American restaurants, no one in her right mind would eat an entire serving.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pikawicca


                                I agree that some places, especially on the lower end have huge portions, but most upscale places I visit don't. I can eat a whole entree no problem. Adding an appetizer, salad, cheese and dessert is another story sometimes...

                              2. seems a little cheesey on the resto side to charge a split fee when there were two entrees ordered. but how the heck do you split an order of osso bucco? one person gets the bone and the other the meat? but come on $2, cheap on the resto side and who cares on the custo side.

                                to the question though. if one entree is split between 2 people and no other entree is ordered then absolutely the charge is justified. if 2 entrees are ordered and the custo asks for them split onto 2 dishes, jfood does not think that a split charge should be charged.

                                that being said the last person that is responsible for this event is the server. under NO circumstances should the server's tip be dinged. this is just wrong on the part of any custo to do that.

                                1. We've been 'round this mulberry bush before, but I guess we'll do it again.

                                  Frankly, you should have been charged TWO split fees- one for the osso bucco, one for the pasta. The pizza was a share, so no split there.

                                  What you don't understand is that when you do a "split", you aren't getting one dish divided into two equal parts. You are, generally speaking, getting more than one full entree, sometimes as much as 1.5. You are getting 2 plates, dressed, instead of one.

                                  Since most places will put a little more on each so it doesn't look too small, you are getting more than one. So split charge is appropriate.

                                  To avoid a split charge in future, one of you orders the pasta, one the osso bucco, and you swap plates in the middle. Easy.

                                  1. First and foremost, if it's posted on the menu! Then if your food is split for you in the kitchen on separate plates. I never ask for this because the kitchen folks don't know how much we want to split. If we all have a plate (like 3 of us ordered 3 meals), I don't even ask for a plate. It's okay that his steak is in my pasta's cream sauce, and I don't want the server to go back and forth (he's already walking enough for my refills and bread!).

                                    In your case, your food was split for you, and apparently that meant you may have received a little larger portion and maybe extra sides (that's what others have said, but I don't have firsthand experience). Perhaps instead of charging you $5 (for pasta and osso bucco, 2 x $2.50), they gave you a $3 discount because you ordered three items.

                                    So I think it would be appropriate, BUT if I were the restaurant owner or the server with some empowerment, of course, I might say, "Normally, there is a $2.50 fee for splitting each dish, but I realize that you've already ordered three entrees, so we are waiving it for you this time." This educates the customer and hopefully, the customer would interpret this as a kind gesture and appreciate it. Of course, other customers might think, "well, of course you shouldn't charge me! The nerves!"

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: boltnut55

                                      boltnut55, beyond such a great name, this was a really thoughtful reply! Can't agree with you more on every point you make.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Thanks, Sam. I really appreciate that... I had just read a response from someone else that sort of rubbed me the wrong way, so your timing is great.

                                        Regarding the name, I used to be a San Diego Charger fan, and my favorite player was Junior Seau, #55, but you might have figured that out. :-)

                                      2. re: boltnut55

                                        I don't know the particulars of the OP's story, obviously...but it might not even have been three entrees. Depending on the restaurant, the pasta course may be a true "secondi" and not a full entree sized dish.

                                        Regardless, if the split plate charge is on the menu and they got a dish that was split onto two plates....well, pretty obvious, then. Sure, we can all wax philosophical about whether a restaurant owner should just give up the couple or few dollars he's determined he needs to make enough money when the kitchen needs to split a plate. Of course, we could also wax philosophical about how people should include a few extra dollars on their tips. We all know where that goes.

                                        If its on the menu, you have the choice as a customer. Don't ask for something to be split, or indeed ask specifically that something not be split. Otherwise, deal with the charges that are listed. Someone above mentioned corkage...similar deal. Unless its specified on the menu that corkage will be waived when you buy another bottle....don't expect the corkage to be waived, period. It may be at times, but you shouldn't expect so. Nor should you expect for a charge that is legitimately listed on the menu and levied for actual services or goods rendered to be "comped" because you think you spent enough. I'm always a fan of non-food analogies...we wouldn't expect the oil change to be comped at a car repair shop because we had the wheels rotated and the car washed; unless it was listed on the price list that the oil change would be comped under such circumstances.

                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                          cweb: i realize this is a bit off topic and there was another thread
                                          on this [http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/508935
                                          ]but i think the "world is complicated" and there is more to these kinds
                                          of situations than "was it disclosed in print?" ... i think in many cases
                                          things in print are "defensive" while some unwritten convention is what
                                          is controlling ... and this unwritten social contract has obligations on
                                          both the resto and the patron.

                                          these "meta issues" are the tricky stuff. i think one of those things "owned"
                                          is a certain amount of "treat patrons equally" [would you not feel miffed
                                          if say a couple waiting 10min past their RSVP were offered a glass of
                                          wine on the house but you at 15min past due were not ... of course you
                                          are not owned this, and you could walk out, but this being in your face
                                          is kind of obnoxious. is a say "regular folks" couple walking into a resto
                                          justified in taking umbrage if two super hot chicks walking in after them
                                          are seated first by the male-in-charge? obviously restos are not going
                                          to generate comps on a schedule or explicit negotiation like a Vega$ casino
                                          but nor are they supposed to be as arbitrary as a doorman at a hot club.
                                          these great unwritten meta issues [is it reasonable to stop into a fancy
                                          resto for dessert and coffee by yourself at prime time] are the hard questions
                                          and stated policies often dont deal with corner cases or extenuating factors ...
                                          do you factor in a courtesy taste to the sommelier/chef/owner when it comes
                                          to corkage? that doesnt seem unreasonable to me ... although i'm not a big
                                          wine person, so i havent given this much thought.

                                          if a resto had a policy that "incomplete parties will not be seated" but the
                                          resto is 75% empty and you explain your associate is 5min away,
                                          but they waved the policy in your face rather than waiving the policy,
                                          is that reasonable? come on ... that's a reasonable "defensive" policy
                                          in the land of super flakes [in SF i have seen people show up 90min
                                          after the RSVP time for large parties] and the issue is the "spirit of the law" ... Merchant of Venice and all that.

                                          [cweb: i realize this is not just a direct reply to you, but sort of a general
                                          comment about reasonableness in these kinds of situations, but this was
                                          just a convenient thread entry point.]

                                          when a restaurant unreasonably takes refuge in "the small print", the
                                          patron has long had recourse to taking it out on the tip [again a complicated
                                          and debateable issue, and ostensibly would be after reasonable efforts
                                          to discuss with mangement], but in this day and era, the patron also has
                                          recourse to the google cache as did mr dk2463 in his Contra Quince oration ...
                                          he isnt accursing them of doing anything they didnt have a right not but is
                                          calling them on a "negative exceptionalism"].

                                          ok tnx.

                                      3. If all they are doing is bringing you an extra plate so you can split it yourselves, then I would be surprised if most places would charge a split fee, but if you are asking them to present two separate half size servings, then a split fee does seem reasonable. It takes time and effort on the part of the kitchen, what is so wrong about being compensated for that?

                                        1. I agree there are 2 different issues here. If the restaurant says on their menu there is a split plate charge (or server advises you of it), I don't think the # of dishes you get should affect that. This is the same logic my retail customers have - I am buying 3 pieces of expensive luggage, can't you just give me the 4th for free? No. If you don't want any particular extra charge, don't do what causes the charge, whether it's get sour cream or extra cheese or an extra side dish.

                                          The other, separate issue is whether or not a split charge is appropriate. I think there is likely a vast mis-communication between kitchens and customers and they're just trying to do their best to present a nice plate, whereas customers really just think it's too much food and please just cut it in half so we can share it, or give us an extra plate, which is literally NO effort. I just don't think customers should be charged to plate one giant portion onto two plates. Who told the chefs they have to then give twice as much in side dishes, twice as much sauce, etc? If people complain, stop splitting the dish in the kitchen and give them an extra plate. JMO, but when I want to share a plate, I really just want the entree to share. If people are going to charge, I either won't eat there or won't order anything and will ask for a silverware setup and just eat off the other person's plate.

                                          1. I have on occasion been at places, ordered 1 dish(on a food crawl) and said to the waiter "we are just going to split this" and with no other interaction the waiter puts the order in. then later we see the split charge on the bill(once it came out on 2 plates, but was very obviously just 1 portion split, and another time came on 1 plate). felt ticky tack, and like bill inflating. My simple solution was to ask the charge be removed. evertime i have, it has been done. sometimes all you have to do is say something instead of sit and stew.....my 02$

                                            13 Replies
                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                yes, just before the part about using pasturized egg and the 18% autograt.....otherwise known as the small print and or, the part no one ever looks at!

                                                regardless, for pure customer relation reasons, a server should reiterate a split charge if they plan on applying one......

                                                1. re: nkeane

                                                  Um, I think you're really reaching here. If it states it on the menu, I'd be mortified if someone I was with tried to have it removed.


                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                    so i should get my monocle out and inspect the menu up and down before ordering?boy would that slow things down....

                                                    anyways, when i said small print i mean at the very bottom of the menu, in a font size about 1/10ths the size of the rest of the menu, and bundled with the information you hardly ever need like Gift Certicates, togo policies, nut allergy info, etc.....

                                                    guess you had to be there

                                                    1. re: nkeane

                                                      Guess so.

                                                      Would you ask them to remove an (for example, 18%) autogratuity if it was listed in the same place (and there were no service blunders)?

                                                      Maybe I'm just not as old as you, but I've never needed a monocle to notice the small print. And, frankly, having worked in the biz for 15 years, neither do most people.

                                                      1. re: nkeane

                                                        So the menu is in 24 point font and the small print is in 2-point. a bit of a hyperbole. And if the server would have pointed it out at the beginning you would have ordered a second dish or eaten alone. Now if the server would have pointed it out at the end of the meal, would you have apologized for not noticing and still demanded the removal? Just seems wrong that the restaurant placed it in full view, you neglected to see it and blamed them.

                                                        Sorry NK but it sounds as if you should have apologized when it was pointed out to you, not a removal because you did not notice. Eating out should not be a gitcha in either direction.

                                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        I so agree. If it's printed on the menu (even if it is small print) then it's a legitimate charge. Why should the server be obligated to reiterate it??? And why should it not apply to you, just because you think it's unfair?
                                                        And this part of the post "once it came out on 2 plates, but was very obviously just 1 portion split" well, what in the world were you expecting to happen if you ordered one portion split?

                                                        I think nkeane was wrong in this instance.

                                                        1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                          the 1portion 2 plates comment was intended to preempt the notion that when you ask for a split they tend to give a bigger portion....that is all.

                                                          yes, it was a bit of hyperbole. but it was very small.

                                                          technically it was a legitimate charge. I never questioned the validity of the charge, Only the motive and "gotcha" nature of it.

                                                          I did not demand it removed. I asked....nicely. You would be amazed at what a well stated and request, put forth with politness and manners, can get you. The waiter or manager could have very easily said they couldnt remove it, and I would have paid it and said nothing more. So what it boils down to, I guess, is that I was wrong for asking nicely for something.

                                                          sorry(insert smirk here)

                                                          1. re: nkeane

                                                            These evnts happened to jfood this week.

                                                            On his last night on the road the hotel forgot the wake-up call. Fortunately jfood has his blackberry set as a back up and he woke up in plenty of time. Called downstairs and was told that he was wrong in a not so pleasant manner. Okeedokee, over to the fitness center and started the day.

                                                            When he checked out the Manager stopped by and wanted to adjust the bill because of those events, especially the behavior of the callee. Jfood could have said yes, but he declined and thanked the manager for the kind offer.

                                                            That would have been what jfood would have done in your situation since you were clearly in the wrong. Kudos for being polite on the approach, but upon seeing that this was on the menu jfood would have apologized for asking and paid.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              it probably wont matter to you, since you seem to have made up your mind. but the menu said "split charge $2.50 we split, FREE if you split" meaning if we do it in the kitchen itll cost ya, if you share it at the table, no charge. waiter never asked if we were just going to share from the same plate(which we were) and took it upon himself to split it and charge. my personal opinion is if youre going to have a policy such as this it should be front and center, in large bold print.

                                                              btw, I was raised so that, when i was offered something you always refused, and if the other party insists you always accept. also, when offering someone something and they decline, you always insist.......once. I dont see what the big deal is about asking for a ticky tack charge to be removed. legitimate or not. I am a contractor and am constantly having customers and suppliers wanting a discount. some are much more succesful at this then some. the reason the vast amount of the time.......politeness.

                                                              1. re: nkeane

                                                                :-)), any other little tid-bit you'd like the forum to know.

                                                                - If the menu has that option the waiter should ask if that is a split in the kitchen or would you like a separate plate for the sharing. The way jfood keeps it staright is a split occurs in the kitchen and sharing occurs at the table and he always asks for a separate plate to share.
                                                                - Jfood was also raised in the first few lines of your second para. But to be clear your words were..."My simple solution was to ask the charge be removed. evertime i have, it has been done". So you were the insister and the restaurant (who apparently was raised in the same manner) waas the insistee and accepted.
                                                                - Jfood was also raised that asking for something to be removed is even more "ticky tacky" than having the charge in the first place.

                                                                Amazing how this has gone from,

                                                                1 - I wasn;t told
                                                                2 - I insisted for it's removal
                                                                3 - it was on the menu in small print
                                                                4 - it had the option of sharing at no charge
                                                                5 - they then insisted I accepted a reversal
                                                                6 - others do it to me so i'm doing it to the restaurant
                                                                7 - i did nothing incorrect and the restauarant was totally at fault.

                                                                Yup sound like a completely poilte situation.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  2 and 7 are totally made up in your head.
                                                                  5 makes no sense and 6 is your erroneous assessment of what you think is my motivation.
                                                                  so by my count the majority of your conclusions are incorrect.

                                                            2. re: nkeane

                                                              I think it depends on what and where. Are you splitting a steak or a honkin' pile of pasta or pizza that one person probably couldn't eat? On the one hand it's somewhat petty that a resto would charge an extra lousy $2. On the other hand, you're feeding two people for an extra lousy $2. I like to split salads if I know they're too big and I'm not going to want my entree. I also like to split desserts because of the calories. Do they charge you for that? So it's a double edge sword.
                                                              Splitting entrees in the kitchen just makes for a better presentation and better service, but I guess i can understand cooks that don't want to be bothered, although I have seen people insist on it, as well as splitting soups and even glasses of wine. If you're sharing the amounts of entrees per people, a split charge is silly either way. I'd just ask for extra plates and eat it 'family style'.

                                                  2. Being charged to split is always OK in my book. (Split = 2 plates, divided in kitchen) Being charged for an extra plate (Entree on one, other one empty) is complete greed on the resto's part. When I owned my own place, the policy was: we will split a (larger) salad ie. a caesar, at no charge. Ditto for a soup. Entrees were never split b/c the chef felt it destroyed the integrity of her presentation, but we're happy to bring you the plate and other implements you may need to share. "Can you split this up for us?" as I'm dropping their food off. My reply, "NO!. Sorry..." Some peeps are never happy...

                                                    1. In my book split charge is OK if either of the two events occur:
                                                      1) You only share 1 dish betwee 2 and the split charge is clearly mentioned on the menu
                                                      2) You get extras as part of the splits (i.e. sides).

                                                      I must say though - 1) makes me feel like I am being nickeled and dimed. I might have to think twice before going to such establishment.

                                                      However, what is not OK with me is what recently happened to me in one of the Wisconsin Dells restaurants (that claims to be fine dining, but not really):
                                                      The split charge was listed on the menu, but the 2 of us ordered 2 appetizers, one entry, bottle of wine and one desert (the desert was eaten by my husband). The entry was brought on one plate and looked like a normal-size entry (judging by how other people's entries looked). We were also given one empty plate, so we were the ones doing splitting. The check included a split charge. I felt it was petty for the restaurant to charge the split charge in that particular case. It left bitter taste in my mouth.

                                                      1. I own a restaurant and this came up today. If 2 people split one entree, the charge is valid. We give an extra plate and silverware, water, etc. They are taking up a chair and space at a table that could be for another paying customer. We have to wash their dishes, pay for the table, lights, heat, music and general ambience they are enjoying. If, however, they are with a larger party and multiple entrees are ordered, I can see where the charge is perceived badly.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: suzzzn

                                                          so is it your restaurants policy to sit two single diners together at a 2 top, so as that you dont waste space? do you charge a fee to a member of a 4 top that isnt eating with the other three but is still taking up real estate?

                                                          split charge=1 item, on two plates, done in the kitchen
                                                          share=1 item, on one plate, shared at table

                                                          split charge= legitimate
                                                          share(extra plate)charge=petty, alienating

                                                          1. re: nkeane

                                                            I agree. A split charge should only be for splitting (i.e. 1 menu item put on two plates) since whether or not it's extra food it's certainly extra work. Whether or not people share shouldn't make any difference to the restaurant. We often order an assortment of appetizers instead of 1 entree each, we've never been charge extra for doing this, there's no difference between that and sharing.

                                                          2. re: suzzzn

                                                            psst, suz. Jfood agrees with some splitting charges but you have to "pay for the table, lights, heat, music" whether they are there or not (it's a fixed cost).

                                                            And as nkeane states there is a difference between split and share. An extra fork for 2 people to share a piece of chocolate cake versus charging them even a $0.50 split charge is a no brainer.

                                                            1. re: suzzzn

                                                              I agree, two plates, 2 sets of silver, 2 napkins, two waters, two seats, two dinner rolls. Washing extra dishes, labor, time in kitchen splitting= more time for cook. 1 entrée= less money made on that table. If you don't want to pay for the cost of running a restaurant, eat at home!

                                                            2. imho, you were fairly charged.

                                                              1. I don't think it was appropriate given the amount of food you ordered. Splitting two dishes between two people seems reasonable. I'm wondering what would have happened if you ordered the pizza to come first and then each of you chose one of the other two dishes as "yours" and then just split at the table. I'm guessing no additional charges.

                                                                I don't really think it's ever appropriate, but if two people order one dish and expect the kitchen to dish it up on two separate plates, I guess maybe. If two people order one dish and eat it together off of one plate, I see absolutely no reason to charge.