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Check, Please

If you believe what you read in trend pieces, separate checks, perhaps the ultimate in dining gaucheness, is apparently becoming more acceptable in Chicago. Will this “I only had water while you downed five $15 glasses of wine” craze hit NYC?

While I think separate checks are juvenile, I have never found equal check splitting to be fair. I don’t think it’s tacky for everyone to pay for what they consumed and only what they consumed. And I still can’t believe that the only polite and socially acceptable way to handle a group birthday dinner is for the guest of honor to treat (must be the same people who have second homes and destination weddings. I don’t know these people). At least according to the Times, who irked me by not only disallowing comments on the Social Q's column but removing all old comments–there were originally quite a few in favor of the host as benevolent payer.  Serious Eats commenters seem split on the concept.

Group birthday dinners are an awful beast worth avoiding at all costs anyway, and yes, I’ve had a few. I’ve literally ended friendships over them.

Image from a 1985 review on Relive the 80s

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  1. slocker #

    I am now obsessed with this image that you used to illustrate this post. Are “Separate Checks” the Band just a notch above Cheeseburger In Paradise Bookings? Or are they really “Phila’s Rock n’ Roll Sweethearts?”

    Okay so when I was in North Carolina last year all the waitresses promptly offered up separate checks at the onset of ordering. was wondering myself if that leads to larger net tips for the server ultimately.

    I think the key to not getting gypped in a group dining experience, is don’t just order a soup and tea! If you are that broke, sit it out.

    February 7, 2009
  2. ckc #

    I try to order with the best of them at group dinners, but was bowled over the other week when a group of friends invited me out to say ‘so-long’ before I moved out of town – they split the bill with me, but I’m 5 months pregnant and no one blinked when they split it evenly among all the bottles of wine. With those boozers, of which I will happily count myself some day soon, my pasta and appetizer cost me $70! At a low priced LES eatery! A farewell dinner I wont soon forget, grrrrr. I’ve got new eyes for group dinners after that wallet blow.

    February 18, 2009
  3. ckc: ok, that would seriously piss me off (though it doesn’t take much to put me over the edge). I’ll be the first to admit that I can be callous towards pregnant women (yes, issues) but if I were the pregnant woman and was expected to pitch in for everyone else’s alcohol, I would be none too happy. Good thing you moved out of town.

    February 19, 2009

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