Dining Guide -- Checks, Friends and Tips
Nothing can silence a conversation at a restaurant faster than the arrival of the check. Who should pick it up first? If you ordered a small salad, are you going to have to contribute to someone else's filet mignon if you split the bill evenly? And how do you handle the situation delicately when you notice that the person picking up the tab has grossly undertipped?
Bill Rancic, Rachael's finance buddy who was the first winner of The Apprentice, tells Rachael that these questions are very common. "Everyone thinks about it, no one wants to talk about it -- it's such a grey area," he says. "You don't want to look cheap, but you also don't want to over pay." With a few simple rules, Bill hopes to make these grey areas a little more black and white when it comes to dealing with the "green" after a meal.
Bill's Rules of Thumb
• If you're going out with friends, it's O.K. to divvy up the check to split it evenly. But if it's a case where you just had a salad and someone else ordered the lobster, then ...
• When the check comes, only offer to pay for your portion. You don't want to be stuck with what Bill calls "the $90 salad." It would be nice if the person ordering the filet mignon or the Dom Perignon would take note of what you ordered, but if they don't, be proactive and when the check comes, say, "This should cover my portion." You don't want to get stuck with a tab you're not comfortable with.
• If you invite someone new out to dinner, pick up the check. Let's say you have a new neighbor and you invite him and his wife out to dinner -- the onus is typically on you to pay for the meal because you did the inviting.
• When you dine with the same friends often, take turns paying the bill. If you're meeting for lunch week after week, just because you did the initiating, you're not expected to pick up the check every time. Take turns, and typically it will even out in the end.
• If the check is sitting on the table untouched, you should pick it up once it starts to feel uncomfortable because chances are it's uncomfortable for everyone. If you're not planning on paying for the whole dinner, this is a great time to pick it up, look at it and say, "Let's see what the damage is." You insinuate that you're splitting the check.
• If you're treating someone, don't let them know until after the dinner and all desserts have been placed on the table. "People tend to order a lot differently when they know I'm picking up the check!" Bill says.
• If you're splitting the check evenly, split the tip evenly. If you're only putting in for your portion, just give your portion of the tip.
• If you notice that someone is being cheap on the tip, there's a right way and a wrong way to handle this. You don't want to bring it up while you're still sitting with the person you're dining with because it makes them feel bad and cheap (they probably are, but you don't want to make them feel that way). You can do it in a very discreet manner: Excuse yourself to the restroom, or on the way out hand it to the maÃ®tre d' and he can give it to the waiter. If you dine there frequently, you can always go back the next day or next week and say, sorry about that, here you go. They'll appreciate that.
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