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Need new tricks to pick up the tab

Family visits my in-laws every December in Florida. They are very generous and have been over my marriage to their daughter. When we go out with the, DW, daughter and boyfriend I find it's important to pick up the tab. Each year I need to find a new trick to tell the maitre d' that it's my expense, and my FIL tries likewise (not as much recently as he can;t run as fast any more.) I've tried the bathroom at dessert, the call-ahead, the slip the waiter $5 to give me the bill, etc. I am running out of ideas.

Any good ones that have worked for others?

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  1. When I want to be absolutely sure, I call ahead and tell them not to bring a check to the table. I can then slip out to the rest room and they will bring the check to me.

    For a long time, I used one restaurant for most of my important business meals and they set up a house account for my company. The owner would always make it easy for me to have a private moment with him on the way out and I would give him a percentage to add for the staff.

    I always felt that there was a certain grace in entertaining without a check in sight. Many times, I had guests ask the waiter for the check and they would simply say that it had already been paid and he hoped they had enjoyed their meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BostonZest

      grace. such a perfect term for that. and a gracious host you surely must be.

    2. Give the waiter or Maitre D'/Host your credit card sometime during the course of dinner .. the earlier the better - like right after drink orders are taken. Has always worked for me.
      A trick I learned from my father who was in the restaurant business.
      Good luck

      1. On the way in I discreetly hand my credit card to the host/hostess and tell them I'm taking care of the bill. But these days with credit card "skimming" that can be a dangerous thing.

        1. After entree but before dessert I slip out for a restroom break and pay the bill.

          1. if the in-laws take you to one of their regular hangouts you are out of luck, they told the waiter three weeks ago the family is coming, etc. etc.