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Jun 23, 2010 02:57 AM

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.