Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 27, 2012

GLYNN: Single checks make it easier

Niagara Gazette — Restaurants that refuse to provide customers with individual checks are rendering a disservice, if you believe the results of an informal survey.

I witnessed a recent exchange in a restaurant — four people trying to figure out what they owed on a single bill — that nearly turned ugly. It's hardly a customer-friendly way to do business.

"That's just the way it is," the owner of a once-popular Pine Avenue explained the first time I went there for a business lunch with three other persons.

That policy, many people agree, is a recipe for an unpleasant dining experience.

For starters, there's sometimes the guy ordering margaritas and appetizers while the others are content with coffee and soft drinks. He also selects the higher-priced menu items instead of just a sandwich or salad like his luncheon companions. And, of course, when the bill comes, he issues an edict: "The best way to handle this, folks, is just split it even, all the way around."

Question: Why should the others at the table subsidize the last of the big spenders?

Then there's the sneaky one — amidst all the chirping over who owes what — whipping out a pocket calculator that only adds to confusion and doubt. He could be cheating, of course, because no one else at the table is going to call for a review, like a football coach on the sidelines. (It should be noted that women also are often involved in such a brouhaha.)

Some other reaction from people who for obvious reasons prefer anonymity:

• "It just irks me because I don't drink and I don't eat a lot, so why should I end up paying for someone else?"

• "I find myself always getting stuck when the bill is split evenly since I usually have just one drink and some of my friends can easily put away three of four."

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