Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Separate checks

I personally find it ridiculous when waiters do not at least ask groups of four or more guys if they want separate checks in a restaurant. I'd certainly be fine if they didn't ask and did it anyway, but to present a full table of people a single check at the end of a meal is just dumb. It just serves to annoy everyone involved, especially since half the time they're going to make you go back and split it up anyway.

It wouldn't be a big deal if I could actually remember to ask when ordering, but it seems so absurd to me that the waiter would even consider a single check that it doesn't even come to mind most of the time. I'm more likely to remember if it's just one or two other people.


ianonymous said...

I agree completely. It is absurd that wait staff cannot read the minds of the entire table and take action without instruction. How dare they!

Swid said...

One of the positive aspects of Kauffman bloat is that I'm now very, very good at handing group payment situations in restarants.

+5 VISA?

Travis said...

It takes no psychic power to anticipate that a group of all guys at a restaurant are going to be annoyed if you bring them a single check.

Travis said...

Seriously, that's like a waiter not bringing you a refill of your drink unless you specifically hunt them down and request it.

ianonymous said...

No, it is like a good waiter walking by with a drink and me covering the top of my glass if I don't want anymore (i.e. giving some kind of direction).

Is this "magical" waiter supposed to be able to differentiate your group of 4 from a business dinner where one person is paying for all 4 people?

Andy Rutledge said...

Lazlo's here in Lincoln always hands the table a check with everything separated out by seat, and totaled for the whole table. Then it's up to the folks at the table how they want to pay for it.

I only know of a few restaurants that do this. I think the main reason restaurants don't do this is that the restaurant doesn't have a system that assigns an item to a seat. So any separation has to be done manually.

Louise said...

Travis is not asking for the waiter to magically read his mind. I think the point of the matter is that it all depends on the situation. I've gone out to eat with the Dinner and Games group, and we've had 10-12 people and still the waiter doesn't ask if it will be seperate checks. There are certain situations which warrent a bit more thought. A table full of all guys in the Redmond area should be a clue that everyone is seperate. Now, if it was a man and woman going out to eat, than that is a totally different situation, and you would have to tell the waiter seperate checks - because they will naturally assume that the "couple" is together. And it can be especially frustrating because many places seem to have problems breaking up the bill after the orders have been placed in the computer.

ianonymous said...

... or it could be two guys dating and the waiter could not realize this and split the bill, insulting one or both of them. We could go round and round with different situations and examples.

the only point I am trying very puerilely attempting to make is that if you want separate checks, just ask; it's not overly difficult.

Travis said...

Absolutely, the burden is on me. I should be asking for separate checks. I just forget. Since a restaurant is a service entity, I think that they could offer better service by making me much happier when I do forget.

And I'm leaving out a bunch of details. When I go out with friends, there are generally four to six people there. We're all young, and we're all dressed very casually, and it should be obvious by a couple seconds' worth of observation that this is a purely social occasion. I'm not great at reading people, but I'd like to think that I could easily see that this was a situation needing separate checks.

I've had some great waitresses (I think they were all female) who have preemptively split the check without asking when it was a group of all guys. They got bigger tips. Just sayin'.

And sure, if it's just two people, regardless of gender, it's probably best to return a single check and not ask to split it. Three is questionable. Four or more, just split the thing.

And perhaps it's system limitations. Maybe it's a pain to accept one payment for four checks, if it shouldn't have been split to begin with. I don't know; I've never worked at a restaurant.