A meal with friends or family should be engaging and delicious. However, when the check comes, things can get awkward. Do you split it evenly? Does one person pay and ask the others for money? What if someone wasn’t drinking or didn't eat the appetizer? It’s easy to spiral, but paying at a restaurant doesn’t have to be a headache. Here’s how to properly split the bill without the awkwardness.
Make Decisions Before the Meal
The best way to avoid any awkward check conversation is to devise a plan before you start eating. Ensure you know who’s drinking, who’s not, who’s skipping the steak, ordering the oysters, and so on. It’s best to have that established and out of the way early rather than retroactively litigate when the meal ends.
Ask for Separate Checks (But Be Easy on Your Server)
If you intend to split the check, it's best to let your server know sooner rather than later. They’ll be able to separate everything as you order it, rather than have to go back and divide it after the meal. Also, try not to have too many split checks: Itemizing food individually is inconvenient for your table and your server, who has several other tables to attend to. If everyone has agreed to pay for precisely what they ordered, consider having one person pay the entire bill and then have everyone else pay that person via a mobile payment service such as Venmo or Zelle.
Be Conscious of Each Other
The best way to split a check is to know who you’re dining with and be conscious of their habits. If you have a friend who doesn’t drink, be mindful of making them pay for everyone else’s cocktails. Don’t expect someone to throw down a credit card if it's their birthday. Always show consideration for your fellow diners.
When in Doubt, Go Even
Once you’ve had the prerequisite conversations and decided to order, kick back and split everything down the middle for everyone. Not only is that the easiest for the math, but it’s also quicker for your server. Put faith in that if you paid a little more this time, you might pay a little less next time you’re out with friends. Going out to eat with people isn’t only about paying the bill but having a communal experience — sometimes that costs money, whether or not it can be itemized.
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