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Seperate Checks?

s
suzannajoy May 8, 2012 01:41 PM

I was out to lunch yesterday with a group of ten women. As the waiter began to take our order, several of the women asked that we all have seperate checks. I consider this a breach of restaurant etiquette. What do you think?

  1. Karl S May 8, 2012 02:13 PM

    It's not a breach of etiquette unless one of them offered to host/treat you and then reneged. It may not be common in your experience, but it is not an etiquette issue as a general matter. The correct time to request separate checks is before or at the time the server takes orders (it becomes an etiquette issue if the request is made after that point, because it's very awkward for the server).

    1. e
      escondido123 May 8, 2012 02:20 PM

      I don't consider it a breach of etiquette, especially with that large a group--unless it was a set price menu and everyone would be having exactly the same thing, including the drinks. There are usually some folks in a group who are more frugal, some that like to have a drink or two, and usually one that has been stiffed when the tab was supposedly split up on some other occasion. With very close friends we will go for one check though a couple we know always asks for their own check because they're dealing with some money problems.

      2 Replies
      1. re: escondido123
        d
        Dee S May 8, 2012 02:25 PM

        Agreed. In fact, there are restaurants that are happy to provide you with separate checks and will add the obligatory large group gratuity on to each one of those checks for you.

        Not uncommon......

        1. re: Dee S
          Karl S May 8, 2012 02:31 PM

          And the only person conceivably burdened here is the server; but, with large parties, separate checks are a wiser way to ensure a server doesn't get the short end that often happens with large parties going dutch. If the server is willing, I can't see how anyone at the table should have reason to be offended as a general matter.

      2. viperlush May 8, 2012 02:27 PM

        Why do you think it was a breach of restaurant etiquette?

        In my experience the only time that I thought etiquette was breached was on a company trip where they were trying to woo us into moving. The "host" asked for seperate for all the tables and then asked who would cover the table that we were at because we were to lowest ranked and couldn't expense.

        If you read a lot of the etiquette threads the most common response in "next time get seperate checks".
        Usually its because someone doesn't want to pay more than their share or because they fear that their dining companion isn't a good Tipper.

        1. l
          LeoLioness May 8, 2012 07:04 PM

          Is this a regional thing? I live in Boston and rarely see separate checks. In fact, I don't think I've done it in a sit-down restaurant.

          21 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness
            viperlush May 8, 2012 07:27 PM

            I dont think its a region lthing. I just thinks its how your social group interacts. I Wouldn't expect seperate checks unless requested. Have you ever asked for seperate checks? When we sit at the bar we frequently get seperate checks without asking. But unless we ask we rarely get seperate checks when eating in the non bar area.

            1. re: viperlush
              jgg13 May 8, 2012 08:02 PM

              I believe it is, actually. We have family that visit from other areas that views separate checks not only as common but as the default state. They hate it when they come to Boston and find that not only is it not default but often declined altogether

              1. re: jgg13
                viperlush Jun 11, 2012 07:34 AM

                I can see how its regional. We were recently down in Fl visiting bf 's parents (originally from NJ) and we got in a conversation about restaurants. The lack of good restaurants, the overwhelming number of chains, and the frequency in which they now eat at restaurants. His mom mentioned that she is still surprised that when they go out that everyone gets seperate checks. Even at her Red Hat luncheons each of the 12+ women gets their own with out having to ask. His dad said that there are restaurants that they will no longer eat at because they wont do seperate checks.

                1. re: viperlush
                  c
                  cleobeach Jun 20, 2012 11:03 AM

                  Even at her Red Hat luncheons each of the 12+ women gets their own with out having to ask. His dad said that there are restaurants that they will no longer eat at because they wont do seperate checks.

                  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  I can absolutely believe the above. No doubt someone calls ahead to make sure the restaurant will do seperate checks. I remember my waitressing days when large groups of older ladies (sans red hats) would dine together. Just keeping the coffee "warmed up" was a job for one waitress alone. (the coffee could have been 221 degrees and it still would have needed a "warm-up" afer each sip)

                  1. re: cleobeach
                    m
                    Mother of four Jun 20, 2012 05:05 PM

                    I really don't understand what the problem is. If twelve women,or what ever number, go to a restaurant would a server actually assume that one woman is going to pick up the check? I would assume he or she would ask if there were going to be separate checks if he or she had any brains.

                    1. re: Mother of four
                      c
                      cleobeach Jun 21, 2012 06:41 AM

                      The problem is some kitchens can't or don't want to deal with 12 seperate tickets. In that case, it is reasonable to expect the women can work out splitting the check on their own.

                      1. re: cleobeach
                        m
                        Mother of four Jun 21, 2012 07:21 AM

                        Then I suggest they ask what sex is making the reservation for how many of the same sex and then refuse the reservation! Written with tongue in cheek!

                        1. re: cleobeach
                          k
                          kmcarr Jun 21, 2012 01:18 PM

                          "The problem is some kitchens can't or don't want to deal with 12 seperate tickets."
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                          It depends how modern the POS system is. A fairly new system can present a single order slip to the kitchen while generating separate bills for the customers.

                        2. re: Mother of four
                          l
                          LeoLioness Jun 21, 2012 08:06 AM

                          I guess I would assume the women would work out the check among themselves (as my friends and I do when we go out in a group).

                          1. re: LeoLioness
                            d
                            dianne0712 Jun 21, 2012 03:04 PM

                            You would think so, but I can't count the number of times I've ordered the cheapest thing on the menu because I was short of funds and then had the rest say "we each owe $50 plus tip" . I remember once saying that I'd only had soup and no drink and was told that "This way is easier" so there went my grocery money. I remember another occasion when I didn't have enough to cover it, only enough for what I had plus tip, and I was told that if I couldn't pay my "fair share" then I shouldn't have come. You have to be aware of people's situation and allow them some DIGNITY! I resent paying the tab for hard drinking relatives or people who order the most expensive thing. How is that my share?

                            1. re: dianne0712
                              Karl S Jun 21, 2012 03:50 PM

                              This is why splitting evenly needs to be by express opt-in within a social group. The default is every-tub-on-its-own bottom.

                              1. re: dianne0712
                                l
                                LeoLioness Jun 21, 2012 04:49 PM

                                Sounds like you need to speak up or else find new dining companions, then.

                                1. re: dianne0712
                                  jgg13 Jun 22, 2012 06:34 AM

                                  I think that there's a difference between the case where one's share is radically different from what they really owe vs. when it's just slightly different.

                                  I know this isn't what you're talking about but all too often I see a case where someone is raising cain over what realistically is going to amount to a couple of bucks. "Oh, bob got an extra beer, it's not fair to split it up!" ... uhh, $6-7 split 10 ways is less than a dollar. "Mary got the special, it was $10 more than everyone elses!" .... $10 split 5 ways is only $2/pp.

                                  However, if what someone got was say $15 and the even split was $30? that's highway robbery and the splitters should recognize that.

                                  1. re: jgg13
                                    l
                                    LeoLioness Jun 22, 2012 12:44 PM

                                    When I'm at a big dinner, I can't say I often keep track of how much the entree of the guy at the end of the table was compared to mine, though, or who had how many cocktails. Why shouldn't the onus be on the person who wants to pay less?

                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                      jgg13 Jun 22, 2012 07:03 PM

                                      I try to pay attention as I'm often on the higher end in a group so I'd rather be aware if I'd be sticking it to someone else

                      2. re: viperlush
                        v
                        violin May 9, 2012 08:39 AM

                        Actually, I did notice more separate checks when we I lived in Boston. As poor students, we were more likely to have financial problems and couldn't manage paying for "the group's" extravagances. Also, in Europe it is very common to ask for separate checks, and Boston has a lot of Europeans/European students.

                        When I lived in England as a student, every time we went out to eat it was separate checks. Even for the huge parties of 20 people getting a cheap curry dinner. This was my first experience with separate checks, and I thought it was great. The servers were used to it, and managed it well. They also tended to get more reliable tips since large groups of students eating together and paying together are NOTORIOUS under-tippers. Although people tip much less in England, of course.

                        1. re: violin
                          viperlush May 9, 2012 08:45 AM

                          But was it based on being in Boston or that you were poor students? It seems that from reading these boards its is more a poor student/mooching friends/uneven incomes that lead to the splitting of checks and not the geographical location of the chowhound. I wasn't aware that there are regions of the country where splitting checks is unheard of or where the default is split checks.

                          1. re: viperlush
                            jgg13 May 9, 2012 01:40 PM

                            See, there's the oddity. It is only recently in Boston that I've seen separate checks be something that a place would do, and many places I go to won't do it at all. It has been people from other places that seem to think it is commonplace. There have been previous threads which have claimed it to be geographical (which is where I realized that the people I'd be with asking for separate checks weren't just PITAs).

                            Maybe it is just reflective of the places that I go in Boston.

                            1. re: jgg13
                              Karl S May 9, 2012 01:53 PM

                              No, it's just that the service side to Boston's restaurant scene has historically been pokey in terms of focus on the customer, shall we say.

                      3. re: LeoLioness
                        k
                        kurtt May 9, 2012 11:38 AM

                        I definitely believe this is a regional thing. I rarely see this in NYC but when I visit friends in Memphis or Austin I see it done all the time.

                        1. re: LeoLioness
                          melpy May 13, 2012 06:17 PM

                          In many restaurants in PA they actual ask "Is this all together?" or "Will this be on one check?" It is more often done in our college towns than in the larger cities.

                        2. s
                          suzannajoy May 8, 2012 07:05 PM

                          Thank you all for your replies. My close friends and I always just add the gratuity and split the bill evenly. We figure over time it all works out pretty evenly. I was thinking that we were putting extra burden on the waiter but your replies have helped me revise my thought process.

                          1. m
                            Mother of four May 8, 2012 07:09 PM

                            Breach of restaurant etiquette? Goodness, where did you ever hear that? We do it as a couple all the time and when I go out with women we do it every time. Everyone is much more comfortable ordering what they want and as much as they want.

                            1. s
                              smartie May 8, 2012 07:41 PM

                              learned my lesson last week with a group of nine women, they mostly shared apps and had 2 glasses of wine, I had a side salad and one drink, the check comes and they say $18 each because we've divided it by 9. Mine came to $10. I wouldn't mind but when this group of ladies meet they are usually very vocal when they haven't eaten/drunk much but when it suited them they split the check.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: smartie
                                e
                                escondido123 May 8, 2012 08:52 PM

                                And therein lies the reason people get separate checks....as you can see the issue of who paid how much this time versus last time can cause bad feelings.

                                1. re: smartie
                                  c
                                  cleobeach May 9, 2012 10:34 AM

                                  I wouldn't mind but when this group of ladies meet they are usually very vocal when they haven't eaten/drunk much but when it suited them they split the check.
                                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Yep, isn't it interesting how that plays out when the tables are turned?

                                  At a prior job, groups of people from the office would go out together for lunch two or three times a week. I learned to carry a variety of bills and coins so I could hand over my portion and tip prior to the drama over the "you had this and I only had that," preventing the scenario you described. I generally don't "nickel and dime" but sometimes it rubbed me the wrong way because of the personalities involved.

                                  A restaurant in my town does something clever with their lunch checks, the server hands a folder over with the total check and right behind it is another check breaking out the totals per person. When they first started this practice, the servers said something like "and there is an itemized check in the folder and I am happy to seperate your payments by party, just tell me ......." I always thought it was a smart move on their part.

                                2. m
                                  Maximilien May 9, 2012 09:09 AM

                                  Unless one person takes the check for everyone (and pay for everyone).

                                  I think it is better for everyone, clients, waiters, restaurant; as long as you specify it as early as possible (when/before taking orders).

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Maximilien
                                    l
                                    LeoLioness May 9, 2012 10:56 AM

                                    How do separate checks work with bottles of wine? Is there another, separate check?

                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                      rockandroller1 May 9, 2012 11:18 AM

                                      Typically, one generous person will offer to put something that's "shared" on their check, like a bottle of wine or an app.

                                      1. re: LeoLioness
                                        m
                                        Maximilien May 9, 2012 11:33 AM

                                        I've been to places that will split the bottle between multiple checks (but that was with a big drinker group).

                                        Usually, one person will get the booze.

                                        1. re: Maximilien
                                          l
                                          LeoLioness May 9, 2012 11:53 AM

                                          Interesting. I guess I'm used to more communal dining with friends in general (hey, want to split that dessert? Let's get a side of ____ for the table) that separate checks would be way more of a hassle. Then again, I've never been the person silently fuming over having to overpay for a salad and glass of water.

                                    2. j
                                      Janet from Richmond May 9, 2012 09:54 AM

                                      In the camp of it not being a breach of etiquette. Of course some restaurants will have a policy of no separate checks for parties of X or more or the like and in that case it would be an issue.

                                      1. h
                                        HoosierFoodie May 9, 2012 11:17 AM

                                        I don't necessarily think its a breach of etiquette but it does create a pain in the hind end for the restaurant. More cards to run (this could be costly, too), more orders to take, etc.... Its just sometimes unavoidable. Particularly if you have a group where someone is just going to order a small salad or app and water and another person who is ordering an app, main and a couple of glasses of wine.

                                        I have seen several restaurants where they limit the number of different checks which I think is fine.

                                        1. dave_c May 9, 2012 11:41 AM

                                          I would categorize separate checks as an "it doesn't hurt to ask" item.

                                          Many restaurants use a computer to place orders and generate checks. It's easy for the computer to keep the orders straight. I've verified this with a couple servers who pretty stated the same thing.

                                          However, separate checks may be a hassle for smaller mom and pop restaurants who still bill out by adding machine or calculator.

                                          1. s
                                            silence9 May 9, 2012 11:57 AM

                                            Hi... I generally never go to lunch with a large group of _strangers_ ; which is to say, if I am lunching with 6 or 8 or more folks, they are either good friends or work associates or family members. As it is lunch we're discussing (and not pricier dinners), and as no one is really knocking back multiple bottles or cocktails (1or 2 per person at the most during mid-day, often none), a single check can hover anywhere between $150 and $300 for 6 or 8 guests (pre-tax/pre-tip).

                                            I always offer to cover the entire single check.. And inevitably, someone (or two or three) will offer to do the same the next time we're all out together. Like I said, these are friends or family or business acquaintences, who are generally sincere in their offer. And if, the next time, someone else didn't come through as promised, I wouldn't consider myself ill-used. But that has never, ever occurred. Someone always remembers the previous gesture to keep things light and simple, and they cover the entire check exactly as I did. This has been the case, perhaps, 20+ times.

                                            I won't get into issues of age or gender of guests, as I have no desire to be publically wrestled into rubber innertubes and set ablaze... And I am not well-to-do, particularly. I just don't care for the intense focus on numbers-crunching that comes with multiple checks. I like to sit back and feel content after a nice lunch, and not worry about everyone becoming an accountant.

                                            I realize my secondary gain here is avoiding conflict. If others are fine with many checks and modes of payment, that's fine too...

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: silence9
                                              Karl S May 9, 2012 12:24 PM

                                              Actually, separate checks eliminates conflict entirely.

                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                viperlush May 9, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                Not so if you wait until the end of the meal to ask for one. Could cause more conflict. Though next time we are out with the couple who leaves a twenty no matter what they order i am tempted to do that. Just to see their reaction.

                                                1. re: viperlush
                                                  Karl S May 9, 2012 01:14 PM

                                                  But if you read my earlier comments, I am assuming one is making the request at the proper time, of course...

                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                    viperlush May 9, 2012 01:22 PM

                                                    Yup read it. But you assume everyone else will/did. Just pointing out that asking for seperate checks at anytime can still cause conflict. A lot of times we will get asked by the waitstaff if we want seperate checks at the end of the meal and not just at the beginning.

                                                2. re: Karl S
                                                  s
                                                  silence9 May 9, 2012 12:44 PM

                                                  Hi... I believe I understand your view... My own view, per the 'conflict', could be illustrated in the following scenario: guest A receives their own separate check, and calls the server over to explain that it was the cup of lobster bisque that they ordered, yet were charged for the bowl. Server then has to explain that the Lobster bisque is the only soup that is not available in 'cup' size, and has to go bring back a copy of the menu. Guest A is certain that they used the term 'cup' when ordering (they probably did). And on and on and on.... And all that matters to me is that guest A enjoyed their bisque; I'm fine covering the extra 3 bucks for the 'bowl that masqueraded as a cup'. Maybe that makes me a chump, but I don't get that knot in my stomach that comes with the above scenario, because guest A never had to know of it at all...

                                                  1. re: silence9
                                                    Karl S May 9, 2012 01:23 PM

                                                    Well, in my experience, that is a much rarer source of conflict than the others avoided through separate checks. Mind you, I've not been at a table with separate checks for years, but they are eminently sensible so long as the server is not unduly burdened.

                                                    If you imagine that splitting the check or rotating hostly evenly prevents people from being accountants, think again - the people who calculate will calculate regardless. And they will remember. Separate checks help disperse the accumulation of that kind of energy through complete transparency.

                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                      512window May 9, 2012 05:11 PM

                                                      I find that splitting the checks forces people to account for what they actually consumed. I've been in far too many situations where people have no sense of the full cost of what they ordered and throw down a 20 and expect that it'll cover everything.

                                                      But most of my group dining experiences are business. I think a long time group of friends would probably have worked most of that out.

                                                      1. re: 512window
                                                        Karl S May 9, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                        You might be surprised how some spots never change, even in a long time group of friends.

                                                3. re: silence9
                                                  carolinadawg May 9, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                  " I like to...not worry about everyone becoming an accountant."

                                                  As Karl S points out separate checks eliminates this, as does your method of one person paying the entire tab. It is only when one check is presented and all the diners begin to calculate their share that the everyone becomes an accountant.

                                                  Separate checks also eliminates any possibility of any one member of the group feeling like they pay more than their share over time, or paying for a member who might "forget" it is their turn.

                                                4. LaLa May 9, 2012 04:47 PM

                                                  I live in a Southern Tourist Town and I go out with the same group of girlfriends once a week for lunch...high end , low end and everywhere between...and only once have our checks been presented together.We dont ask or anything it just happens.

                                                  1. Seth Chadwick May 13, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                    Not a breach of etiquette to ask. Some will offer it and some won't.

                                                    What I really wish would happen is for U.S. restaurants to have the computers that break down each person's order on one bill, so each person can see exactly how much their share was. I travel frequently to Canada with my husband and I can't remember a restaurant (even the little coffee shop on the outskirts of Montreal) that didn't produce a bill with our individual orders separated out.

                                                    So easy to read, understand and pay.

                                                    1. Bill Hunt May 13, 2012 10:19 PM

                                                      If they made the request early, I am not sure there should be a problem.

                                                      However, I have not asked for "separate checks" in decades, and the closest that it has come is that 2 - 4 of us hand over credit cards to split the check X-ways.

                                                      Maybe it's just me, and the times?

                                                      Hunt

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                        p
                                                        pine time Jun 24, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                        Actually, this is new to me. Occured for the 1st time last month--4 of us dining, restaurant declined to do separate checks, but offered to take 4 credit cards for our individual amounts. I thought it was quite civilized. I seldom carry cash, and if I do, never know how much my meal will be, so appreciated the 4-way credit card option, plus we all added generous tips.

                                                        1. re: pine time
                                                          c
                                                          CookieLee Jun 29, 2012 07:11 AM

                                                          We always put in 2 credit cards when we go out with another couple. I did just have an incident at S&W where the server split the bill on the cc's, we both signed our slips - and the entire bill showed up on my cc bill!

                                                      2. u
                                                        usmc5855 May 14, 2012 11:08 PM

                                                        Some restaurants do not allow separate checks. Most chains do. The ones that do not, its usually because the credit card transaction fee gets charged on all 12 checks and then suddenly cost the store X times as much as 1 check.

                                                        Now if someone is going to ask for separate checks, just have one person say it, it gets annoying when the order is being taken and all 10 people ask for separate checks

                                                        If they are asking for separate checks understand: the server has a system and does not know any of you so in all honesty their system involves the exact place where you are setting. Moving complicates things.

                                                        Also understand: Different places have different computers and different POS software systems. Some make separate checks very easy, others do not. Your server is also stuck in the position of doing each of your transactions in order so at 2 minutes a check it is going to take them time to process your party.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: usmc5855
                                                          a
                                                          alwayshungrygal Jun 20, 2012 04:16 PM

                                                          My understanding of credit card fees (merchant fees) is that the bank charges the merchant a set percentage of their gross sales (I think it's about 4%), not a per check fee. So if the bill total is $100.00, the merchant fee is 4% of $100.00, no matter how many credit cards are charged to total the full amount of $100.00.

                                                          Is this incorrect?

                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal
                                                            e
                                                            escondido123 Jun 20, 2012 06:29 PM

                                                            I worked in retail and we were charged for each transaction. So if we did a charge for someone and then they decided to buy something else after it was done, we were instructed to "return" the first merchandise (that voided the transaction and therefore it was not charged for) and then redid the whole thing. At least, that is what was explained to me.

                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal
                                                              j
                                                              Janet from Richmond Jun 21, 2012 05:35 AM

                                                              We are charged by the transaction as well the merchant fee. I believe it's 10 cents/transaction. I'm in a service business (not food related).

                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal
                                                                h
                                                                HoosierFoodie Jun 21, 2012 02:37 PM

                                                                There is a percentage fee and swipe fee and the all vary depending on business and the type of card used. So, a bill split multiple ways is more expensive for the restaurant than a single bill. However, its a cost of doing business now for restaurants, I suppose.

                                                            2. westsidegal May 15, 2012 10:13 PM

                                                              not a direct answer to your question, but,
                                                              in separate check situations i do NOT necessarily expect the restaurant to time-coordinate the dishes as i do when we are all on the same check.

                                                              1. g
                                                                GreenDragon Jun 7, 2012 12:26 PM

                                                                Both from the server and the diner point of view, this is common, and much more polite to determine it at the beginning of the meal. Now, that being said - it is very common in the US, but not in Europe. Some places in Europe just don't deal with this well. It could add 20-30 minutes to the time it takes to get the bill, actually. I am heading to Ireland with 7 girlfriends - we have already determined that we will just pony up individually, or each take one night's dinner bill.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: GreenDragon
                                                                  f
                                                                  FrankJBN Jun 7, 2012 12:39 PM

                                                                  I have not often asked for separate checks. My recollection is that more than half the time, the server said "no, we can't do that." Usually small parties, 6-8.

                                                                  1. re: GreenDragon
                                                                    f
                                                                    FrankJBN Jun 7, 2012 12:41 PM

                                                                    So which is it?

                                                                    Greendragon writes "it is very common in the US, but not in Europe"

                                                                    See violin's post above "Also, in Europe it is very common to ask for separate checks"

                                                                    1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                      g
                                                                      GreenDragon Jun 7, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                                      I am not an expert in Europe - having only visited 7 times, not lived there, and only visited UK and Ireland. However, whenever I have asked for separate checks, I've usually been met with a reluctant 'I think we can, hold on, let me ask the manager'. Sometimes, they come back - having split the bill equally among the number present :) Perhaps my evidence is purely anecdotal and unusual, but that's been my experience - they simply don't know how to deal with it, so evidently it doesn't happen often.

                                                                      1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                        g
                                                                        GreenDragon Jun 7, 2012 01:04 PM

                                                                        Going back and re-reading her post - it is possible she was doing so in a student-rich area, and therefore the local restaurants were well used to such issues?

                                                                        1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                          m
                                                                          mpjmph Jun 7, 2012 04:25 PM

                                                                          Europe is a big place with many different cultures, each with their own norms.

                                                                          1. re: mpjmph
                                                                            g
                                                                            GreenDragon Jun 11, 2012 07:10 AM

                                                                            Fair enough, and true, which is why I mentioned just the UK and Ireland, where I've been. :)

                                                                      2. h
                                                                        HoosierFoodie Jun 11, 2012 08:47 AM

                                                                        It can be unavoidable and sometimes its necessary. But it does create more work for the server and the restaurant.

                                                                        1. p
                                                                          postemotional1 Jun 19, 2012 11:09 PM

                                                                          Separate checks are not a beach of etiquette if asked for at the beginning of the meal. Separating them at the end of the meal can be problematic as some POS systems require a manager's swipe or password.

                                                                          My experience has been that a group where people don't know each others dining and/or spending habits is likely to request separate checks.

                                                                          I have been a bartender for a good part of 30 years.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: postemotional1
                                                                            Karl S Jun 20, 2012 04:56 AM

                                                                            "My experience has been that a group where people don't know each others dining and/or spending habits is likely to request separate checks."

                                                                            And, sometimes, when they know each other really well...

                                                                            1. re: Karl S
                                                                              c
                                                                              cleobeach Jun 20, 2012 10:59 AM

                                                                              And, sometimes, when they know each other really well...
                                                                              -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                              Ha! So true. We have old friends whose company we enjoy but I "know" how they are about money. I learned long ago to mention to the hostess on the sly that we want seperate checks. We always get together at a local place where we are frequent guests and they are happy to accomodate me.

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            Stelmaria Jun 20, 2012 11:10 AM

                                                                            I'm a poor college student, and my friends are poor college students, and if we didn't split the check, we wouldn't be able to go out to eat. If it's someone's birthday, we might all put in an equal amount.

                                                                            I would never judge someone for asking for a separate check. You don't know what their financial situation is.

                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Stelmaria
                                                                              Cheflambo Jun 20, 2012 04:22 PM

                                                                              I'm with Silence9 on this one - I find the agonizing over every last item at the end if the meal really unpleasant. PLEASE don't pull our your phone/camera/calculator and start enumerating what everyone had, and how to split that appetizer 3 ways.

                                                                              Once a year I have to dine with my BIL & SIL who are notorious separate checkers. He mentions it to the hostess as we are seated, to the server before menus are handed out, and to the runner or busser if it suits him. He and SIL always order first, their order goes in first, and their food arrives before ours; they dive in like hungry dogs and are halfway through their grub by the time the rest of us are served. If, god forbid, the check comes all together despite their admonishment, he grabs the check and pays with his airline-points credit card, then takes out the calculator and tells everyone (including his wife) down to the penny what they owe for their meal. If mine was $14 and I give him a $20, I will not see my change. He pockets our cash, tips 10% (I always go back and cover the rest) and thinks he got away with something.

                                                                              I know separate checks are so much easier for the group diners, and a PITA for the servers. And I was amused to see so many women in girl-groups here noting that they always get separate checks without even asking for them. Experience as a server has taught me that a group of men will just throw down a credit card and settle up later. A group of women will, inevitably, feel the need to go through the "you-had-the-salad-and-wine-but-I-just-had-soup-and-some-of-Betty's-calamari" song-and-dance; none of them can calculate 18%. Its much easier to give them separate checks, calculate the big group auto-grat for them, and distribute it across the board.

                                                                              1. re: Cheflambo
                                                                                gaffk Jun 20, 2012 05:47 PM

                                                                                Wow. I've been lurking on this thread, remaining silent.

                                                                                But . . .first, I am glad my BILs and sisters are reasonable people.

                                                                                Second, I often (several times a week) dine with a group of women at work. And several times a month with women outside of work. We are never offered seperate checks and we always take the total, add 20 % (yes, we can do that advanced math) and divide by the number of diners (yes, we can manage that math as well).

                                                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  tinnywatty Jun 21, 2012 02:47 PM

                                                                                  This is fine if everyone had meals of about the same cost. But separate checks make everything easier and less awkward when dining with a mixed group (financially or appetite-wise) so that people not comfortable with an even split don't have to bring attention to themselves by pointing it out.

                                                                                  1. re: tinnywatty
                                                                                    l
                                                                                    LeoLioness Jun 21, 2012 04:54 PM

                                                                                    When I asked how bottles of wine are handled on separate checks, people said that one person usually stepped up to pay for it, which surprised me. Is that your experience as well?

                                                                                    1. re: tinnywatty
                                                                                      gaffk Jun 21, 2012 05:56 PM

                                                                                      As I said, we dine together often, so we figure it all evens out over time. There is only one co-worker who points out when she eats cheap (and never points out when she eats expensive ;) She just isn't included in the invite as often as the rest.

                                                                                      I guess we all have fairly similar appetites and incomes. And I really only posted because of cheflambo's assertion that women can't calculate a tip ;)

                                                                                  2. re: Cheflambo
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    Stelmaria Jun 20, 2012 07:18 PM

                                                                                    Most of us in my circle have waited tables, so we tip generously.

                                                                                    Unfortunately, your brother-in-law sounds like my brother-in-law. Ugh.

                                                                                    I wonder if it happens more with women because no one wants to be the "fat girl."

                                                                                    1. re: Stelmaria
                                                                                      Cheflambo Jun 21, 2012 10:59 AM

                                                                                      BIL once had an extended argument with his 20-something son while we were ordering over whether or not he was willing to pay for son's meal - son wanted The Big Steak and his father said no, its too expensive. I wanted to crawl under the table.

                                                                                      Gaffk and Stelmaria -- you are a server's dream customers.. And Im not denigrating any specific gender here; as Ive already mentioned, I know at least one man who will itemize everything. I dine out with several different groups of women, and mixed couples. and adding 20% and dividing x ways is usually the norm. My spouse is a little more like his brother however - he dislikes doing this, and I can see him "doing the math" depending on what HE had, but he goes along with it to avoid embarassing me (and, on many occasions he has picked up the check for the whole table and never said a peep). I guess my whole point is don't make a big deal out of it.

                                                                                      1. re: Cheflambo
                                                                                        gaffk Jun 21, 2012 05:57 PM

                                                                                        And your spouse sounds like a keeper.

                                                                                        1. re: gaffk
                                                                                          Cheflambo Jun 22, 2012 02:43 PM

                                                                                          Thanks, gaffk; he is. I definitely got the "pick of the litter" on that level.

                                                                                          Now, I never said women can't calculate a tip; but check any waiter-related website and you'll find that women are generally perceived to be less generous with the gratuity than men. And don't get me started on the many "seniors" out there who think that a 10% tip was good enough in 1960, so its good enough today.

                                                                                          1. re: Cheflambo
                                                                                            c
                                                                                            CookieLee Jun 29, 2012 07:19 AM

                                                                                            I find the complete opposite about tipping. My gf is of the 20% level, my husband 15%. Me, 18% - 20%. Oh, and I use the tip calculator in my phone. :) My mom was a 15% tipper, and being a bookkeeper, the woman could tell you your share, inc. tax and tip in the blink of an eye!

                                                                                2. l
                                                                                  latindancer Jun 23, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                                                  It's annoying. I try and not dine with people who insist on asking for separate checks. These seem to be the same people who enjoy putting waitstaff through the hoops and it just turns out embarrassing for everyone who rolls differently.
                                                                                  Ask for the check and one person is delegated to figure out each person's share with the tip built in.
                                                                                  Simple. Without all the entitlement.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: latindancer
                                                                                    l
                                                                                    latindancer Jun 23, 2012 08:23 AM

                                                                                    Actually, upon further thought, it's more prevalent with my friends/colleagues to just throw into the pot the price of the food/drinks we each had. We do it ourselves. We'll round it out and throw in our 20% tip and the group usually ends up with more than we'll need but the total is given to the waitstaff....usually a very generous tip.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer
                                                                                      f
                                                                                      FrankJBN Jun 29, 2012 07:21 AM

                                                                                      So it's not the reality of separate checks that bothers you "one person is delegated to figure out each person's share", just the idea of having the restaurant staff do it.

                                                                                    2. f
                                                                                      FenCan Jun 25, 2012 05:05 PM

                                                                                      As a server for years in college and moonlighting when I had my first office jobs, there were a lot of courtesies about separate check requests that most customers understood. First of course, 10 people requesting separate checks before the order is fine IF the restaurant permits that, but there are some things that customers who have no employment experience in ala carte restaurant work resisted understanding. Separate checks slows down the whole table's order in most cases. If that is not a problem, fine. Next, very definitely separate checks, expecially for ten people, slows down the server. In the kitchen you match orders to one ticket or stub -- doing that with 10 separate tickets adds a substantial amount of time. Some POS systems, even back in the early 80's, were no longer just a cash register, but practically whole accounting systems, and 10 checks would not just be rung with change made. My last employer, when I last waitressed/bartended, was in 1997, and he was charged a few for every card swipe. I never minded making separate checks for people who understood that it adds time to orders, service, and payment, but a LOT of customers were not very nice about. One error was all it took to make an entire table angry, and some of the insults I received for a mis-fire (such as ringing up one woman's wine on another man's check by mistake at dinner rush) were out of bounds. I wish people would all wait on tables at least for a week or so and discover all the ins and outs of that kind of job today -- it's not what a lot of people think it is, and seeing behind-the-scenes might help. Patience for the (sometimes substantial) added time and tasks of separate checks would be VERY much appreciated.

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