The restaurant perspective
What's it like for a waiter when a big group wants nine separate checks? Stressful, especially when they are trying to help equally deserving tables around you...
What's it like for a waiter when a big group wants nine separate checks? Stressful, especially when they are trying to help equally deserving tables around you at the same time. We spoke to a waiter (Olin Padilla of Teapot Vegetarian House), a restaurant owner (James Hondros of Eva Restaurant & Wine Bar) and an executive of a major chain (The Cheesecake Factory's senior vice president Howard Gordon) for some perspective.
Split personalities. Smaller restaurants often lack the pricey software that would enable them to easily divide bills by items ordered. Waiters sometimes double as greeters or bartenders. Many, like Seattle's Eva Restaurant & Wine Bar, use handwritten tickets. So it's awfully nice when you work with them to pencil out everyone's order and what goes on which card. "If there's six or eight and they give us six cards, $100 on this one, $40 on this one, that's very easy, and I think any restaurant should be able to take care of that," Hondros said.
Consider the venue. Larger restaurants with larger staffs, like The Cheesecake Factory and The Old Spaghetti Factory, typically can break orders into separate bills with little wait. "Our main purpose is to continue to look at ways to make our guests happy," Gordon said.
Cash is always nice. "That's what I do personally, that way you can guesstimate your total plus tax and tip," Padilla said. Another reason: restaurants must pay for each credit card transaction, a drop in the bucket for chains but a more significant expense for smaller restaurants.
Tipping concerns. With some folks paying in cash and others with cards, sometimes the tip only gets calculated on the portion paid by the folks with credit cards, leaving servers (who've just spent 10 to 20 minutes running cards, organizing receipts and otherwise being accommodating) with less money for their time. This is one reason why many restaurants add an automatic gratuity for larger parties.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company