The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Customer Etiquette For Split Checks

Alright, here's a small addition to the post below.

If you absolutely must have split checks please be as understand and helpful as possible.

When I ask who is with whom tell me!

I don't need someone handing me 3 or 4 different checkbooks saying they'll take care of these ones, it screws up my system and actually makes things worse and more time consuming as I have to put all my checks together on the computer again and re-split them.

Try to sit near the ones you will be sharing a check with. Expedites the process.

It is a giant pain in the ass when after I take drink or meal orders half the table plays musical chairs. Each order on my note pad and computer with have corresponding numbers that relate to your actual chair you are sitting on. It makes it all a moot point if everyone gets up and moves seats.

It's almost impossible to drop of food and drinks, let alone give the right people the right checks.

I know what some are thinking, how hard can it be to remember who had what?

That's a line of bs when it comes to the fact twenty people had twenty entrees, forty five drinks that switched from cocktails to wine...

Not to mention salads, soups and people sharing appetizers...

You try to remember that on top of who's check goes were after they all switch places.

I'm not as bold as some of my friends, but I know of two servers that announce upon seeing people switching that they will receive one check because of that and have to work it out themselves. Hell, that's my new policy when it comes to unruly groups.

Last but certainly not least, when it comes time to pay, don't be in a hurry.

I don't care if you're in a hurry frankly and you shoving your book at me because you think you have to pay before the rest of the table is pretty annoying.

Like I said, each seat has a number and I must have the tickets in order to expedite the cash out period. If I get them all out of order in fact it will take longer, hell I might go have a cigarette before I even care enough to jumble through 20+ tickets.

Needless to say it will take me a minimum of 30 seconds for each check to be changed out and a minute each with credit cards. So if you have a group of ten it might take five minutes, twenty people, ten minutes...

Be patient, you made the request deal with the fact it will take time.

I had a group of "red hat" ladies, twenty of them. They were in such a hurry to pay for their soup and salad lunches ($6.95) and they all paid with twenty dollar bills. They followed me up to the bar as I went to get change and started throwing their check presenters at me, all out of order. They were rude and in this giant hurry.

Never mind they sat there and took as much time as possible with their dinner and hot teas...

But when it was time to go all of a sudden it was a big rush of course.

I took me nearly fifteen minutes to sort out the mess they made and several of them threatened to walk on their bills if I didn't hurry up.

I simply told them that was theft and if they did that it was a charge that would be prosecuted.

I went on to say they were the reason it was taking so long and they had to accept that.

Now I know that was an extreme case, but to recap my rules of etiquette for split checks...

1. Sit near each other.
2. Tell me who is together and mean it, no changing minds after the fact.
3. Stay in your seat.
4. Give me the checks at the same time, I will pick them up in order.
5. Stay in your seats until the change/credit cards are delivered.
6. Have patience, you weren't in a hurry to eat your meal, don't be in a hurry when I'm trying to accommodate you.


At 4:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I presume to go one step further? If you are dining with family, friends or associates, surely they are deserving of simply splitting the check evenly and getting on with life. Is it really important if Mrs. so and so had one more glass of wine, or the lobster?

And, if you are going to lunch or girls night out, take cash, exact change, or just throw in the $20 and let your girlfriend buy a coffee or the popcorn at the movies later.

Life is too short to worry about keeping a running tab or scoreboard. Don't sweat the small stuff.

At 4:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh god, what strikes terror in the heart of a server more than the Red Hat Ladies. I must say, I know nothing about these women, but when I waited tables they were always rude and pushy. I hated waiting on them. Hey Red Hate Ladies-Stay home!

(Sorry, I had to get that off my chest).

At 4:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have done a great job in responding to all comments.
All points negative and positive were covered. thanks for the insight.

At 5:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ewe...thanks for the "how to's" of ordering in groups. I think you are grumpy and need to get laid lots and lots more.

At 6:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a server at a seafood resturaunt that shall remain nameless. The author is right about the "rules" of splitting checks. I've had a large party who all paid with large bills, and all of a sudden had to "catch a movie in 10 minutes" as soon as I went to cash them out. It just so happened that they were my first table of the day, during Sunday lunch, and the bar had no cash, so I had to go to the office and have the manager make change with the safe. I agree with Insane Waiter totally.

At 6:35 PM , Blogger Brad said...

I agree, and here's another point. Don't waste my time by asking "Has gratuity been added?" If you are in a large party, chances are that it has been added. Just pay a little more attention to your bill, if it's been added, it will say it at the bottom, right after the tax. If it's a Canadian system that the restaurant's using, then it will probably say Service Charge, but most others will say Gratuity. Oh, and by the way, it is OK to tip on top of the gratuity. Believe me, we'll do our best to remember your face, and treat you like we really like you the next time you come in.

At 11:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, they court those red hat ladies at my work, all of 'em know to come there, and they don't ask for split checks until it's time to go....

At 11:20 AM , Blogger Becca said...

For the rude commenter (and I expect there will be more), I think I can sum up this post in two lines.
1)Be courteous.
2)Be patient.

I don't care if you're paying for a service or not, those should always apply because your server is also a human being.

At 12:53 PM , Blogger Derrick said...

It's always good to read stories from your side of the globe.

Asia waiter

At 7:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nephew Dude:

How fucking rude and impertinent that one posting above said you need to get laid lots and lots more.

That posting should have been removed by you.

And I want to second that you've done a great job summarizing responses pro and con to tipping and separate checks.

Keep up the good blog!


Uncle R.

At 12:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, i once served a party of 40 people and they wanted 22 split checks. that's fine, you know, what with my system of assigning each seat a number complete with boxes and lines. as soon as i came back with their drink orders, they all did the musical chairs and complained when all the food/drink orders were all messed up. what did yall expect? how am i supposed to remember who the hell ordered what and came with who? and they had the balls to complain this to my manager. some people are just so stupid. that's my rant for today.

At 1:12 PM , Anonymous Curious said...

After reading your thoughts on customer etiquette for split checks, I had a question for you, if you have time to answer it.

What do you consider customer "etiquette" for returning food that is "unsatisfactory"? The reason I ask this, is a couple weeks ago my husband and I went out with a couple of friends and I ordered a steak.

I specified very clearly that I wanted my steak medium-well. I even went as far as to say that the steak could be a little pink in the middle but NO blood. When I got my order there was not only blood when I cut into the steak but it was right there on the plate (it MIGHT have qualified as medium rare)

I was polite both when ordering and then when I asked my server if it could be put back on the grill for a bit longer. The server proceeded to tell me that it WAS medium-well and didn't seem to have intention of taking it back to the kitchen.

At this point I had to inform her that I'm undergoing chemotherapy and that I have a compromised immune system and that all of my food (espeically any that can expose me to something like E-coli or salmonella) must be fully cooked.

She then apologized and was overly polite to me the rest of the evening. (which is exactly why I do my best to avoid announcing my sickness to people, I don't want their pity. I'm young, otherwise healthy and should make a full recovery, I want treated like anyone else)

It irritates me that I had to disclose my cancer to her, to get the steak fully cooked. Is there a particular way a customer should handle a situation like this?

At 6:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to the commenter on added gratuity. I just wish to say that not all restaurants add gratuity to any party whether it be 2 or please if you are in such a situation, please look to see if that indeed is the case. It just needs to be said for those who assume it is, too many times servers have been unjustly slighted on a substantial tab after working their butts off and doing everything possible to make everyone happy.

At 8:29 PM , Blogger K Tana said...

I think thr customer has to remember what kind of establishment they are in...
A corp. place might have the up-to-date system that allows the split checks. No problem. Other smaller, older establishments might not accomadate, because of the computer systems. The place I work is small fine dining and very out dated. If you don't tell me while ordering there is nothing I can do. If you do tell me ahead of time I then have to put in 5-6-7 different tables. Which I will then piss off the kitchen when I tell them that I want all your food at the ssame time. If all you civilians out there think servers are unbearable try dealing with a bunch of pissed off hispanics, french, italian or greek cooks. Oh and don't forget they are more vengeful than we may be. So feel free to ask and do enjoy your food.

At 8:48 PM , Blogger K Tana said...

Also, I just had to giggle at the Red Hat Ladies comment. I to wait on them and they are a hoot. I always have them in my section and have gotten accustomed to them. No they don't tip well and generally are a pain in the ass, but are alot of fun when you let your guard down. I'll forgo a little gratuity just to serve these ladies just for the fun of it.......I also would like to agree with the above statement in that not all places put on gratuity. I NEVER add gratuity. I make alot of money. I am a good server. I expect to be treated so. If I make a mistake and you don't tip me as well I understand. If I give excellent service and you don't tip well be sure not to sit in my section next time around, because then we will start to discover new ways to give bad service and earn that 10% tip you so gleefully give. Also, we may forget that you don't want lemon in your tea, but us servers never forget a bad tipper and will be sure to let our fellow commrades know if you sit in their section. Bon appetit!

At 4:37 PM , Anonymous Marteen said...

I once waited on a party of 12 around Christmas time - before ordering they asked for separate checks, and I remember they were kind of suprised when I said "Sure, no problem!" Of course, in my head I was wishing them all painful deaths. Turns out they were servers at a couple of restaurants down the street, so I didn't add the 15%, hoping they would be impressed with my willingness and ability to keep all their stuff separate. Sure enough, I ended up making $70 in tips on a combined check total of about $150. And that's the ONLY time I've ever been glad to run separate checks. Oh, and you really do need to get laid lots more...don't we all?

At 9:01 PM , Blogger Brad #1 said...

In response to the response, I know that not all restaurants add gratuity to large parties, I said that there's a good chance that it would, just pay attention to the check, and gave some tips on what to look for when gratuity has been added. I'm the only manager for the restaurant that I work for, and I allways ask the server if they would like me to add the gratuity whenever they are waiting on a party of 5 or more (which is printed on our menu that we will). Sometimes they can read the table and say no, but usually yes is the answer. Oh, and here, gratuity is automatically added when a coupon or gift certificate is used. No argument. I've had to give away too many a free meal, beer and/or glass of wine to a server who's been burned on the tip after the discount.

At 4:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've definitely been out to eat several times where it's easier to ask for separate checks if the server's offering, but generall since the age of 19 on I haven't had big problems splitting the bill with my friends. Assuming everyone in the party can behave like a reasonable adult, we wind up close enough to square that everyone's happy, and usually wind up with too much (good for the server).

My favorite trick I've seen when dining out happened when everyone only had plastic. My friend whipped mini-postits and a pen our of her purse and we put the amount to put on each card on the card.

At 4:08 PM , Anonymous Penny said...

Ahh, the Red Hat Ladies. They believe that the sun shines out of the asses and that waiters are the scum off the bottom of your shoe. Gotta love 'em.

And kudos to anyone who can put up with them in their section without committing suicide.

Much love,



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