The Courteous Way To Ask For Separate Checks At A Restaurant

Whether you're meeting co-workers after a long shift to celebrate your new promotion, or planning to meet with relatives to celebrate a wedding announcement, dining out with a group of people can be fun. It can also be a source of stress, particularly when it comes to splitting the bill. To ensure that everyone has a good time and leaves the restaurant happy, it's important to plan ahead and be mindful of a few dos and don'ts of eating out with a group.

First, you should choose a restaurant that caters to everyone's budget. Seriously, no one wants to get to a restaurant only to find out that they can't afford to eat there. Second, discuss how you will all pay the bill — is it being split evenly or will one person be paying for dinner? Will everyone need separate checks? If you do plan to split the bill, there's a courteous way to ask your server to do this for you.

Bill-splitting etiquette

Food & Wine says that you should not ask for separate checks, because it frustrates restaurant servers and it can slow down the dinner flow. Realistically, you and your fellow diners may need to split the bill anyway, and it's more convenient to request separate checks for each person's meal while you are ordering. This will speed up the check-out process and make it easier for everyone to pay for their own food. To make this request, simply ask the server for separate checks before or during when you're ordering, not after the food has arrived, to ensure that nothing gets mixed up.

Also, if you have requested split checks, you should not swap seats because moving around the table could confuse your server and then the wrong checks may be distributed. Apartment Therapy points out that some restaurants only allow checks to be divided evenly, so it's best to ask your server about the policy before you begin ordering.

Dividing the bill with cash apps

If you forget to split the bill when ordering, you can divide it yourself after the fact. Per Open Table, the easiest way to do this is to split the bill evenly, then each person pitches in the same amount of gratuity. Of course, this doesn't work well if one person only ordered a salad while others ordered lobster. You can't reasonably expect the salad eater to pay for the lobster, so in this case, you should appoint a foreman who can take charge and divide the bill at the table.

When it comes to paying a bill that has been divided by the diners, not the server, having servers run several credit cards isn't practical. In this case, all diners at your table should pay with cash. If that isn't reasonable, one person should pay with a card and have the other diners pay that person back, either in cash or via a cash app. If you are going to use cash apps to help divvy the dinner bill, this should be discussed before ordering so everyone knows what to expect — and you should include extra for the gratuity that goes to the server for the extra time you may spend sitting at the table, and the extra work the server may have to do when splitting the checks or payments.