16. Don’t ask to split the check too many ways
There are check-sharing apps today that can make this piece of etiquette superfluous, but under other circumstances, don’t ask your server to divide the check more than two or three ways. If there are four or more of you, figure it out amongst yourselves. One solution is to appoint one person as cashier and let him or her figure out and collect each diner’s contribution. Or just pick up the check for one or two of your friends and let them reciprocate the next time.
17. Don’t insist on adding up exactly what you ate and drank
There’s (at least) one in every big group of diners. “I had the green salad, which was $6.95, and one of the appetizer spare ribs, which were $12.95 for five, so that’s $2.59 for me, and the salmon, which was $20, but I only drank a glass-and-a-half of that $40 bottle of wine, so let’s say $15 — meaning that my portion of the check is $44.54. Do you have change?” Don’t be that person. A meal out with friends is a social occasion, meant to be enjoyed for the overall experience, not nickel-and-dimed. Unless the difference is really significant — you’re not feeling well so only had a cup of soup while everyone else had the $150 tasting menu, say, or your high-roller Wall Street buddy ordered the $300 bottle of cabernet and you only drink white — just pay an equal share and be thankful for a pleasant afternoon or evening.
18. Tip generously
This is an issue that gets some people all riled up. They seem to resent having to pay extra for service, or think that 8 to 10% is sufficient. Some restaurants these days have raised their food and drink prices to accommodate a service charge to be shared among servers and other employees, so this isn’t an issue (though generous diners sometimes leave a little extra anyway). If this isn’t the case, remember that the server is only guaranteed a few dollars an hour in wages and that the tip is in effect his or her salary. Waiting tables is a demanding job, physically and otherwise, and most servers earn their money. As a general rule — and whatever some people might think about what servers actually take home — if you can afford to eat in a restaurant, the server probably needs that extra few bucks more than you do. What about tipping less for bad service? The impulse is understandable — but remember that a server who doesn’t take good care of you may not realize that the low tip is an expression of dissatisfaction. Better to tip modestly and then have a word with the manager if the service was really bad.
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