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It IS ok to ask for separate checks, right?

I read something the other day saying it's annoying for your server if you ask for separate checks.

Now, the last time I went out for lunch with someone, I asked the waiter for separate checks right after we gave him our order. He seemed to have no problem with that.

I was under the impression that the only time separate checks are a problem for your server is if you ask for them right at the end of the meal. Presumably this is because he has already set up everything in his computer as a single check and now has to re-key everything.

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  1. With P.O.S. systems nearly in every restaurants it's easy to set up split checks, and even combinations of different clients.

    for example, split wine, put wine on 1, 2 checks, put 2 persons on one check and the rest split,...

    Anyway, it's always good manners to tell the waiter as soon as possible, and if done later, adjust the tip.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      Its not always that easy. Unfortunately, some restaurants have ancient systems that don't do any quite so complicated as split up a bill. But anytime you know up front it should be all good.

    2. paying with separate checks is also an issue if everybody is paying with a credit card because it is more time consuming for the server - he has to present each check, wait for each card, run each card, bring correct card and bill to each diner, wait for each to sign and close out a lot more tickets at the end of dinner service. Also the restaurant loses out approximately 50c a swipe for each card.

      Of course it can be done but isn't it easier with 2 people just to split the check at the table between you?

      3 Replies
      1. re: smartie

        Paying in cash is also an issue if people need change. Takes time and can easily wipe out the bank. It's not the splitting that is the issue - that's easy. It's the cashing out. If everybody paid in cash and nobody needed change, separate checks would not be an issue, but that's an unrealistic hope.

        1. re: smartie

          If it's a business-related meal, there are all kinds of reasons why separate checks might be necessary. I've worked for companies that demanded that individual receipts for each meal from each diner, even if there were 5 of us eating together who all worked on the same project. Less extreme examples are two colleagues working for different companies who meet for dinner when in the same town, etc.

          Otherwise, there are cases where one or both diners don't habitually carry much cash (or are short that day); friends who don't meet up often enough to just say, "I'll grab this one; you pay next time", and so on.

          1. re: smartie


            I think it is much easier to split the check at the table between friends as opposed to have the server to split it. However, if it is a business meal, then it is necessary to spill. Let's say two of you went out for a meal and each of your company has a $40 maxmium meal expense policy. Now, each of you eat about $30 with a total of $60. You just have to split it at the check. There is no way around it. This get worse when the number of people increases.

          2. Depends on the restaurant and circumstances. Separate checks for.a party of say 6 or more could prove to be a hassle for the server. Some restaurants have a policy of no separate checks. Reason... If they gave say a party of two separate checks and come time to pay an unscrupulous customer may only go up and pay one of those checks. Some restaurants in that case will offer separate totals.
            Expensive restaurants realize customers on expense accounts need separate checks and need to use separate credit cards.

            1. On a blind date that isn't going very well, yes.

              1 Reply
              1. I think it depends on the size of the party, the type of restaurant, and the city/town. I live in a college town - most restaurants here assume parties of 4 or fewer want separate checks and will run separate checks based on what each person ordered. They will even split a shared appetizer or the meal of one person (i.e. birthday meal) evenly. It's very common to go to a birthday dinner with friends and pay for my entree and drink(s) plus 1/3 of the honoree's total. There are some places that will run individual totals, but they will split checks evenly across 4-6 payers. The very few places that will not split checks in anyway are also usually cash only, so it doesn't matter as much anyway.

                1. I am friends with tons of waiters and bartenders and there is almost nothing they hate more. If you're out with friends, splitting a bill shouldn't be a hassle. The thought is, if you're friendly enough to dine together, what is the big deal. And Yes, it is just as much of a hassle if you get one check and split it between multiple cards. If you're going out to dinner with a group. Hit the damn cash machine!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jhopp217

                    And if two people at the table both need to expense the meal? If your server pals' biggest gripe is splitting checks, they're doing alright.

                    1. re: jhopp217

                      My 2 cents from the serving days.

                      At our restaurant it was MUCH less difficult to run multiple cards on the same check than split one at the end, which required manager assistance, and the managers were ALWAYS too busy.

                      That said, from a server's perspective, Guess what, you're in the service industry. That means someone is PAYING you to serve them in a friendly way. Bite your tongue, split the check, and bitch to your friends later if you must. I just don't understand rude waitstaff. Get over yourself!!!


                      1. re: WhatThePho

                        My group of friends and I pay with cash and cards. We dine in larger groups, all with separate income sources, and live in a small town where there is no easily accessible ATM. So, we would have to drive 20+ minutes there to get cash, then 20+ minutes back just to save my server a few seconds? Look, I get it, I am in the service industry, and people are a**holes. But, my group of friends and I (all of us work in the service industry) are very polite and tip very well (20% plus unless the service doesn't merit it). I have customers shopping at my store who want to use a gift card. then cash, then one credit card, then the other. Adds a ton of time onto a sale that should take half the time. But, I am paid to do it, just like every server is. So, I smile and swipe.

                    2. I recently had a few meals as part of a work group where we were a party of 12. No way were we going to ask for separate checks. Somehow I always end up as the one collecting the money from everyone. . All the restaurants agreed at the start to divvy the checks into groups of 4 each -3 separate checks instead of 12. We were sitting at pushed together tables any way.This certainly made splitting the checks easier

                      1. It is always OK to ask for separate checks, but sometimes you may not get the answer you want to hear, and then you can decide whether to stay.

                        But in no case it is acceptable for them not to accept multiple cards at the end of the meal. That is part of their job, accepting payment. If it is too much for the server then s/he needs to reach out for assistance from the MOD.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          I don't think anyone is saying they won't do it. We're just pointing out the difficulties involved. Believe me, I have plenty of gripes about various customer practices, but I am as friendly and cheerful as can be when I'm out on the floor. It's called acting; and any good professional server is a master of it.

                          1. re: hilltowner

                            Some people have posted that some restaurants would not. And good acting is a virtue in most jobs, not just serviers. On conference calls, the mute button has saved many an embarassing situation.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought people were saying that servers were being rude about separate checks and refusing to do them. And you're right - acting is a crucial skill everywhere.

                          2. re: jfood

                            I know of a couple restaurants that won't allow for multiple cards because they don't want to pay the swipe fees.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              Really? I'd expect they'd be unhappy about it but just suck it up, what if they had a table of one that wanted to pay with a credit card, what's the diff?

                              1. re: hsk

                                Are you asking the difference between paying one swipe fee, and, for example, ten?

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  No, just that if the diners came in separately and ate by themselves, it would be the same cost to the restaurant, as swipe fees go, as their eating together and paying separately.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    But they didn't, hypothetically. They came in as one group. Ergo, one payment, I guess.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      Yeah, I just mean WRT what hsk was asking (or my understanding of it) that it's the cost of business whether they come in singly, or together, to pay the swipe fee. I understand the convenience of having one payment and that's what I do but, as customer services goes, it's a pain but part of the business.

                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                    Thanks, Chowser. Of course 10 swipe fees would be 10x one swipe fee. My point was, if each bill were, say, $20, what's the diff between one diner wilth a $20 tab and a $200 table of ten asking for separate bills. Not preferred obviously, but life goes on. You either take credit cards or you don't.

                                    1. re: hsk

                                      Or, you take one card per table. C'est la vie.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        I think businesses need to set the policy for their bottom line. I have no idea what the costs are for each aspect of every business I frequent. If I want to charge a $3 item at Starbucks, I have no idea what their fees are for it, I have no idea what the break even point is for them. Set your profit, set your rules, don't depend on the customer to know what they are.

                                        As I said, I'd only do one card per table to make it easier for the server. But, if the store doesn't want to deal w/ multiple cards, make that the rule. But, don't accept it and then gripe about it.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          I never mentioned stores that do it grudgingly. I mentioned that in a few restaurants near me, it's policy to accept one card per table.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            Sorry, with the time lapse in responses, I read hsk's but reread what you had posted since it was collapsed, if that makes sense. I have no problems with restaurants that won't do it, if they're upfront about it. Overall, I wonder if they lose customers who might be on expense accounts and tend to spend more, since they can't ring it on their corporate cards. When I was working, I could not use my card for everyone else, only myself, even if it was reimbursed. Accounting.

                            2. The last time I ate out with a large-ish group (I think it was 8 or so), the waiter automatically brought out separate checks. I was thankful. But, if you do want it, ask before placing the order, not when the check is brought out.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chowser

                                Mercy, that waiter deserved a huge HUGE tip. Other than that, I think the responses to the OP pretty well cover the subject. It's sometimes easy--if you tell the waiter/ress upfront and everyone's paying cash; and it's most of the rest of the time a pain for everyone, and in the case of working/business dinners, there's no easy solution. One of the many things that make me happy I'm retired.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I have had waiters automatically split bills a few times. I have also been to many places where you get one bill, but it has a breakdown on it of each person's order and total.

                                2. Disclaimer: my training is in accounting so I find it easier to handle a whole bunch of numbers than many servers (the English majors, the Liberal Arts majors, etc.).

                                  No matter *what* P.O.S. system a restaurant has, I can guarantee you that they've also got blank pieces of paper. Even if the customers didn't pay attention and waited to tell the server they were splitting at the end of the meal, it's really not that hard to do.

                                  Personally, I'll go to the table and then query the diners about what they had, add any appropriate drinks, extras, etc. and then calculate the tax. I occasionally will actually hand each diner my little hand-scribbled "individual" check and then we can resolve everything. On the rare occasions there're a couple of meat-heads who forget what they ordered, it can be determined by process of elimination. At worst, there'll be a left-over appetizer that nobody at the table's claiming as theirs. The price of that item is distributed among all of them, then (and I tell them, and more often than not the ones who did *not* enjoy said "lost" appetizer will quickly "rat" on their fellow diners...)

                                  What some diners think is that somehow the server will compromise the quality of their experience if they tell the server up-front that they want separate checks. That's totally incorrect. It is, as Maximilien first noted hereinabove, the best etiquette to tell your server at the commencement of the meal that you're splitting. Else it can get pretty complicated.

                                  I've been a server/bartender and now owner for over 30 years... servers who're professionals are never rattled by a request for separate checks.

                                  I occasionally see on a menu "no separate checks" or similar language. Now, that's the owner either advocating for his (whining) servers who're too lazy, or perhaps the owner's giving servers too many tables and it's just a matter of logistics that if they had to enter in every seat as a separate check they'd be at the P.O.S. terminal all night and never get out to serve the customers. (That's why I deplore the fact that the position of "cashier" seems to be a dying one in many restaurants today -- a good cashier will be able to turn-out a split in no time after determining what each diner has ordered.)

                                  Now, all that being said, whatever happened to the folks who dine out frequently and have "my turn today, your turn to pay next week" meals or similar. Why quibble over a few dollars? When we go out in groups we almost always just split everything evenly (even if some of us had the extra cocktail, dessert, coffee &cetera...) -- some will squeal that "it's not fair" if it ain't right to the penny. Whatever happened to karma...

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: shaogo

                                    I agree that back in the day every place had a host/cashier and it was a better system, but in today's world with crazy rents and other costs, most places can't carry that employee. I totally disagree with you about the wait staff having to go back and ask everyone what they had. So when I go out with my steakhouse gang and there are a dozen or more of us, heavily drinking, we're supposed to remember who had two shrimp and who had three, who had the one glass of wine and who had two? That is proposterous. If you are going out to dinner and you know you're splitting the check...bring cash! Every restaurant I know takes it.

                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                      When I was a server, the big parties that divided the check and paid cash were the worst tables in the house. They'd pass the check around, and somebody would inevitably forget an app or a drink s/he'd ordered, somebody else would just put in the price of food without allowance for tax or tip, and the party would depart leaving a sum of cash that was barely enough to cover the check - if the server was lucky.

                                      Nowadays most places impose an autograt on larger parties, so this isn't as much of an issue. But I'd venture to guess the server would still prefer to run a dozen credit cards for whatever amounts the diners ask than take chances with a cash underpayment.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        Pass the check around? The last time I was out with a group, there were eight of us for lunch. Nothing fancy (and in upstate NY). The bill came to about $175. The bill came and everyone threw in $30. We gave one guy back $10 because he didn't drink and one back $10 because he only ate appetizers. So we had $210 in the middle. In, eat, out, no argument no figuring. And the waitress got $35 (20%). Why do people have such a hard time with this?

                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                          You are VERY lucky that it worked out. But whenever jfood or little jfoods get stuck playing banker they wind up more like Lehman than Goldman.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              Heh ... Int he first decade or so during/after college, I used to be able to predict with pretty high accuracy [based on single variable: college major] whether the "central banker" was facing a LEH or GS situation at the end of the meal. With the right friends, I'd have been willing bid for the right to be in charge of "open market billing operations". Other times I discovered couples who'd left early were apparently being subsidized at the host's "discount window".

                                            2. re: jhopp217

                                              Sounds like you and your friends are doing it the way it should be done. And if it works for you guys (and your servers), then I'm not one to complain. But in my experience at least, that's the exception rather than the rule.

                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                What you did is exactly as my friends and I do. But sometimes, there are those that *insist* on paying for ONLY what they ate/drank, and that's what makes it more difficult. Invariably, they eventually get dropped from the "split it evenly" group meals if peer pressure doesn't work. :-)

                                          1. re: shaogo

                                            While I think you should be allowed to request separate checks, your post is kind of preposterous, if you don't mind my saying so. I've worked at plenty of restaurants where there is not only no plain paper, you're lucky to have enough pens to finish each night even though you bring your own, because customers take them. Pens and any kind of paper are like gold. And if you use printed checks to write down a bunch of separate orders, you get all kinds of hell from the mgmt as those forms are expensive. And you have to turn them in at some places, and request them if you run out, as you are only allotted a certain # a night to prevent waste.

                                            And I agree with the PP about querying each person about what they had at the end. This is a complete time suck and you're guaranteed to have people leave stuff out either intentionally or because they forgot (alcohol can help that).

                                            I have worked at several restaurants where, as described above, separate checks are a nightmare and require a manager override in the computer and it is sometimes VERY difficult to get a manager in the middle of busy service. While you are following them around and trying to get them to come to the kiosk with you (if you just tell them and walk away, they forget), your other tables are waiting and waiting for you to continue to serve them, and the people waiting to pay are getting madder and madder about the wait. At one place, once you got the manager override you had to put everything in exactly in the right order. If, say, you left off someone's added side dish as you were going along, you'd end up at the end with this extra side dish and go oh no, that's supposed to go on diner #2's check. There is no way to edit or go back. You have to cancel out and get the manager and start all over again. It literally can take FOREVER.

                                            1. re: shaogo

                                              Yesterday, we ate out, big group parent/child, children at one table (older children) and parents at another. With that many people, split up like that, it would have been a headache asking the waitress to split the bill. Who know what their kids ordered? We were two tables away. We all ordered about the same thing. We split it evenly to save the waitress from trying to work it out, whether she was an accountant or not.

                                              As for always splitting it evenly, it depends on how even it all ends up. There are people who always get soup to nuts, including alcohol and some don't. It doesn't even out in the end if you go out a lot. If mine is more, I always pay more. My friends shouldn't have to subsidize my meals, especially since it adds up over time.

                                              I went out with a big group once--acquaintances at best (related to kids activities). They ordered 2-3 drinks a piece, a few bottles of wine, started with $25+ appetizer (some ordered main courses at appetizers), expensive main courses, dessert. I had $12 pasta, as did my daughter and she had an iced tea. They decided to split the tab. It was a $100+ night for us. They never became friends. With people like that, karma means they always make out.

                                              1. re: shaogo

                                                I keep reading about these P.O.S. terminals and wonder why restaurants don't invest in a better system.

                                                And then I remember that in THIS case, POS stands for Point of Sale, and not what I usually use those initials for and I have a good chuckle at myself.

                                                1. re: L2k

                                                  lol My dad was a P.O.S. salesman for most of my life...we enjoyed that too.

                                                  You know, I think a great many restaurants could stand to invest in a better system though. Any system made today should have all of those features. ANY! Not like you need to buy top of the line. But the business end is tough, and I know we're all at those places for the food...c'est la vie.

                                                  1. re: L2k

                                                    POS systems are expensive, maintenance is expensive, programming/software is expensive, terminals are expensive, printing terminals are expensive, installation is expensive, training is expensive :(
                                                    2 systems, 5 printers (2 @ system, 1 @ bar, 2 @ kitchen) ~$15k
                                                    Upkeep/ maintenance ~ $??

                                                2. I'm a server, and I'd MUCH rather split checks, (on my pos system it is really not difficult.) than to give on check to a large group and trust in their math skills as a whole. The WORST, actually, is when people get one check and do half on card, half in cash. For example:

                                                  Bill is $100 for two people.
                                                  Inside their book is a fifty dollar bill, and a credit card.
                                                  I run the card for $50, and only get tipped on the credit card amount.
                                                  Argh!! This happens ALL THE TIME.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: carlee134

                                                    True, that's enough to make you crazy. BUT at the same time, it's people's carelessness and lack of consideration that's really the problem. :(

                                                    1. re: carlee134

                                                      Ya, that's the worst :( That's why I pray it's either all cash or all credit, in scenarios where payments are via both, we get stiffed more often than noticed.

                                                      It sucks too when you go out with friends and it's the same situation, either they don't tip or they undertip :(

                                                    2. Of course it's ok to ask for separate checks.

                                                      However, as with everything in life that comes with hind legs, it comes with a big "but".

                                                      A little common sense and courtesy should probably determine many situations when it is *not* ok to ask for separate checks -- many of which have already been mentioned upthread.

                                                      1. When I was serving, separate checks weren't really an issue, if you asked for it up front, and your group was reasonably small (4 or less). But, at Christmas, the local elementary schools teachers would each pick a day for a "holiday lunch".

                                                        You'd get the 10 female teachers, the one male teacher, and the principal. Ordering was always the same - you'd try to start with the principal, but he'd tell you to start with the ladies. They'd order pop or juice, until you got to the male teacher. He'd ask for a beer, and then the principal would order a scotch. The women would then titter, and one would ask to change her order, which was always to something that included three types of fruit juice and rum, after which one of the other ladies would ask "What's that?", and after hearing the recipe, say "Oh, that sounds good - change my order!". Then I'd have to go all round the table, changing all the ladies' orders into Pina Coladas or Mai Tais or whatever, all of which are time consuming to make. I'd take this order to the bar, making the bartender hate me. Then, I'd have to ring in each order separately, taking forever at the POS terminal (key in code, enter slip, enter order, hit done, wait for print, remove, key in code, enter slip, etc.) making all my fellow waiters/waitresses lined up behind hate me. Then I'd take 12 slips back into the kitchen, and explain to the cook that all of these had to come out at the same time. No matter how I tried to mark the slips (use a big felt pen to mark my name, etc.), one or two were late, causing me to ask the cook to rush the orders through, making the cook hate me.

                                                        Every time I walked back to the table, they asked for something else - more buns, more butter, more water, "Do you have HP Sauce?", "This" - pointing to her perfect medium rare steak - "is raw. Can you make it medium rare, please?", etc., etc.

                                                        When all was said and done, it was at least 10 minutes at the POS totaling up the bills, which I'd present. As I dropped them off and picked them up ("Could I have more coffee, please?", "Can I pay these two bills with this $50, and you bring us back each change, please?", "Do you take cheques?", etc.), I'd overhear - and this, ladies and gentlemen was from the people who were teaching your kids arithmetic - "What's 10% of $18.26", "Oh, you just take the first number, so it's a dollar.", "OK, I'll leave $19 then, that's fine.".

                                                        Then they'd leave the table, which despite my best efforts was still a cluttered mess ("Oh, please don't take that last bite of cheesecake; I might have it."), the busboy would come out, take one look at it, and give me a look. Now, he hates me.

                                                        Later, my manager comes over, and wants to know why five ladies only had the salad bar, and why I didn't try to upsell them. They pulled down the average for the whole lunch shift. Now, he hates me. When I got home that night, I understood, for the first time of my life, why some people contemplate suicide.

                                                        So by all means, ask for separate checks. But please - at least send flowers.

                                                        1. You MUST tell the server, up front, that you need a separate check. It's totally unrealistic to demand one after the fact. If a server refuses separate checks up front, that's a reason to walk out and find another place to eat.

                                                          1. I agree with most of the people, you should ask for the separate checks as you are ordering, when you first sit down.
                                                            That said, I normally don't have a problem splitting a check with my friends. However, I have been stiffed on a few ocassions, where they order much more expensive entrees than us. Or they order a lot of drinks or a bottle of wine, and we don't. They say it will even out on the next time, but it doesn't or we do not go out with them again.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: paprkutr

                                                              I think that if someone says something like "it will even out the next time," you should have your hand on your wallet, because they plan on taking you to the cleaners.

                                                            2. Well it IS more work, but it's OK to ask for separate checks, a lot of times companies require receipts for reimbursement so you have to get one. How much more work depends on the particular restaurant's POS system. It's really easy to split checks on modern (i.e. computer-based, within the last 10 years) systems, but a lot more work on older ones and completely manual receipts. I don't think taking credit cards on split checks would be any more work than multiple credit cards on a single check. Also, I think 2 separate checks at a table for two is less work than 20 separate checks on a large table.

                                                              If you want separate checks it's only reasonable to ask for it up front so the server doesn't have to rely on memory as to who had what.

                                                              1. As a server for the past 7 years, I think it is COURTEOUS for the patrons to factor in several things when asking this question (these points were not prioritized according to importance):

                                                                1) How big is your party?
                                                                - The size of the party is an important thing put in considerations. If the party is going to be fewer than 6 or even 10, splitting checks is a relatively simple/easy since everyone can be easily numbered/recognized regardless of where they sit or move throughout the meal. However, if the party is greater than 10, that's where splitting checks can be annoying both to the server and to the rest of your guests. This is annoying to the server because when taking order you have to move from one person to another, asking each individual for drinks, apps, entrees, and desserts, all the while making sure the orders go to the correct patron so everyone is charged correctly; a very time consuming process and relatively simple when everyone is separate or paired next to each other, but much more complicated when people on the same check are spaced randomly throughout the table (it happens). It becomes even more annoying when some of the party is ready to order/eat while the rest is not. This is can be annoying to the guests because USUALLY after people place in their orders, they expect/assume that their orders will come out shortly even when it is obvious that the server is still taking orders for the rest of the table, and mind you that when a server is taking order, while switching checks or going back to previous checks to add additional orders, the process is much longer. The time between the first person that orders and the last person that orders may be substantial and the first person that ordered may become impatient, but they will definitely feel as if they've waited much longer than everyone else since the time they've waited after they placed their order is much greater than everyone else, but yet the entire party gets their food at, relatively, the same time.

                                                                2) What kind of check system does the establishment use?
                                                                - This is another thing to put in consideration. If the establishment is has a POS system splitting checks is much more simple since everything is computed and printed automatically (splitting, totals, orders, gratuities), and orders can be ran simultaneously at a touch of a button from a single location. However, when the establishment is still going off the ancient, manual, hand written checks, things are much more complicated, after the orders are taken, drinks orders have to be re-written for the bar onto one slip, as should the apps/entrees for the entire table needs to be combined onto a single order sheet for the kitchen. Additionally, when it comes time to pay, all the checks need to be manually summed and gratuities need to be manually added to each of the checks. But this really goes back to how large the party is, if it's fewer than 10 it should not be much trouble, it just is when the party is much larger.

                                                                3) When do you plan on notifying the server of splitting checks?
                                                                - Of course this is another very crucial point to factor in. If check splitting is desired among the party, it should be brought to the server's attention BEFORE the server takes order. Doing this will highly prevent the case of patrons paying for wrong food. If the party notifies the server at the end of the meal this can be taken care of by re-tapping in the orders in a POS system, which may take a while since managers are not always willing to assists with such cases. In the case of manually written tickets and the party notifying the server at the end or even during the meal, I feel this is very RUDE and it should not be okay. The server then must have to re-write all the checks for the corresponding patrons, which may be difficult if the not all the patrons recall what they've individually ordered, checks needs to be recalculated, etc. Again, this goes back to the question of how large is your party?

                                                                4) How will the checks be divided?
                                                                - Addressed previously, if the party is relatively small, it shouldn't really matter how it's divided. When it's large though, the patrons should be very precise about how the checks are to be split, notifying the server when a new check is required or when a check is joint among several people at the table. This would just expedite the ordering process and prevent possible conflicts with orders/payment.

                                                                Sorry for the book, but it was necessary to be thorough.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Paul000

                                                                  I think it is COURTEOUS for the patrons to factor in several things .... 2) What kind of check system does the establishment use?
                                                                  Except the patron (usually) isn't aware of the type of POS the restaurant uses. But otherwise, your points #1, 3 and 4 are all valid, although I don't know if I was a server that I'd want to deal with more than 6 separate checks from a time consumption viewpoint. Which is why many restaurants won't split checks above 4 or 6, and do the auto-grat on parties larger than 6.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Wups, by check systems I mean either manual tickets or a POS. Pretty easy to see POS systems because they're usually the big ol' colorful monitors at all the stations. Currently work at a place with manual tix :( It's terrible but they're trying to get a POS system in so there's hope.

                                                                    I've served a party of 25 people before and nearly all of them had separate checks. Luckily they told me near the beginning of the dinner so I was able to remember who had what. There were either 17 or 18 separate checks for that party and mind you NO POS system in play X_x Believe me, the first guy I took order from, who was sitting across the table from the last guy I took order from, was pissed because he was starving, and yet I couldn't put anything in until all the orders were taken. He was PISSED, no thanks to management (or lack of management) which OK'ed the +15 separate checks.

                                                                  2. re: Paul000

                                                                    OMG...who is the customer? Jfood and friends work all day and go out to a meal, now they need a linear program? Way too many variables.

                                                                    Customer asks...server / MOD says yes or no...KISS.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      Well, the customers are us and since the question was asked in such a way where the answers are nearly infinite, these are the results of those who tried to answer it.

                                                                      Had the question been "Are customers allowed to have separate checks for a single party at restaurants?" then, it's a pretty straight forward answer. Depends on the establishment :P

                                                                      1. re: Paul000


                                                                        the OP question and yours are 90% the same. Your response added several criteria that the customer should understand before asking for separate checks, which jfood find as waaaay over the line as far as requirements. The customer should not have to worry about the POS system in asking.

                                                                        Jfood's position is you ask for it and the the restaurant can comply or not. As far as coutesy and defining how it should be split, jfood totally agrees.

                                                                    2. re: Paul000

                                                                      I recently read the delightful book "Service Included" by Phoebe Damrosch, she was going for an advanced degree in English and had been working as a waiter for several years when she got the chance to work at Per Se, one of the few 4-star restaurants in NYC. She included several tips on how to be a good customer, and one was to tell your server that you will need separate checks before you start ordering - having to refigure everything at the end or in the middle of the meal causes lots of annoying delays for the server and the customer, and as Paul said, the possibility of mistakes.