All right kids, help me out with this.
What’s the norm? When you go to a restaurant with a big group of people, do you tell your server that you’re on individual checks or do you let the restaurant just divide the check up evenly, no matter what everyone gets?
Personally, I’ve only ever experienced the former. Before we give the server our orders, we make it clear who’s with whom and who’s flying solo.
But then there are the situations I’ve seen on popular TV shows and I can’t help but wonder which of these options is the one that most people go with.
For example, in the Friends episode, “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant,” the gang all head out to a pricey restaurant to celebrate Monica’s promotion at work. One of the big plot points of the episode revolves around how Joey, an out of work actor, Phoebe, a freelance masseuse, and Rachel, Central Perk’s star waitress, feel that the others don’t really understand how they don’t have as much money as the other half of the group. For Ross, Monica, and Chandler, money is never really an issue.
So when they go to dinner, Joey, Phoebe, and Rachel all order the cheapest things on the menu while Ross, Monica, and Chandler splurge. At first, it’s understood in an unspoken way that the total check will be divided equally amongst the six of them. But then Ross remembers that they’re celebrating Monica, so she shouldn’t have to pay.
It’s at this point that Phoebe speaks up and it’s agreed that everyone will just pay for what they got. Which, again, is how I’ve always done it when dining in a group.
This happens again in the Parks and Recreation episode, “Tom’s Divorce.” Leslie decides that everyone in the department should take Tom out to help cheer him up when he and Wendy decide to end their green card marriage. Ann Perkins makes a concerted effort to order something super cheap off the menu at Jurassic Fork, telling the audience that she hates having dinner with big groups where everyone splits the check evenly no matter what everyone gets.
She even offers to take everyone’s cards at the end of the meal to take care of dividing up the check. But Leslie speaks up and insists that it’s no big deal because the restaurant will just divide things up equally like usual.
Is that what’s actually the norm in dining with large groups? I mean, I get the automatic addition of a tip when groups have eight or more people. Actually, I don’t get that. They usually give the server a lower percentage than I would calculate…
Anyway, what do you do when you go out with a bunch of people? Do you pay for what you ordered or do you pay a portion of what everyone ordered? Honestly, if it’s the latter, it just doesn’t make sense to me.