Splitting the Check

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.

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.

Feature Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash

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8 thoughts on “Splitting the Check

  1. I agree that it’s super weird. I guess if you’re going out with people you’re super close with and all ordering reasonably priced things, it’s may not be a huge deal, but otherwise, I think it’s a weird thing to assume and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do it the other way unless they know they’re ripping their friends/coworkers off because they always order expensive things, in which case, they’re a jerk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pay for what you consume! I have had some amazing places, where a friend and I would be out for dinner but we share an appetizer, and we ask for separate cheques and the waitress is able to split the appetizer equally for us. That’s amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You always just pay for what you order. I have done it to where someone orders an appetizer that everyone eats off of and that can split equally, but typically you just pay for what ordered. I would have a beef if I went out to eat and had to pay the consequences of someone else ordering a pricey meal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So it depends for me. If it’s just me and another person, we normally just split the check in half. If it’s a bigger group, it’s either separate checks or one person pays and we give them our part. We went out for birthdays at work in May, and for that, we all just split the final check, minus the person whose birthday it was. For those lunches, we all ordered roughly the same things, so nothing was super pricey so I didn’t mind splitting the final check.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I live in the Netherlands. We do split bills evenly, disregarding what every individual are or drank. We usually do this amongst ourselves though. So that is to say that someone pays tjw while bill and then everybody chips in with an equal share. If this isn’t possible, everyone just pays the restaurant what they ate and drank. With a large group, this last option takes quite a lot of time.

    Liked by 1 person

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