To split or not to split…that is the question. Is it tacky…or possibly smart…to share a restaurant meal with a friend? We are living in a country where, according to the Annual Report on Obesity in America, 65% of adult Americans are now considered either overweight or obese. Couple that with the dramatic increase in restaurant meal portions, and I say, Split!
There are still some old-fashioned notions in regard to splitting a meal, particularly in what is considered to be a “fine restaurant”. What I am more concerned with these days is the amount of food that is being wasted…just left on the plate to be thrown away. If you are able to go home immediately after eating, then taking the leftovers with you could be a viable option for your next evening’s meal. However, if you’re not going home and don’t want to leave a half-full plate of food, then share. Some individuals are choosing to split meals for financial reasons. That is understandable. Still many others simply choose not to over-eat. There are those who would like to split a meal, but feel they are being judged by onlookers or even by the person waiting on them.
What Does Your Waiter Really Think?
My husband and I occasionally visit a fine-dining establishment in our hometown. I have questioned more than one waiter there in regard to opinions on meals being split. In each case, they had no objection to it and said it was getting to be more and more common these days. They even admitted that they often secretly wonder why some patrons are choosing to eat so much food in one sitting! They did take issue, understandably, with a couple ordering, for example, a salad, and then savoring it for two hours as they occupied a booth on a busy night.
Does the Restaurant Care?
Restaurants are not exactly rolling in business these days. They welcome your patronage. They are generally more concerned over whether or not you’ll be a repeat customer; therefore, they want to keep you happy. With an increased number of health-conscious people now taking issue with the ways in which meals are prepared, restaurant personnel are quite accustomed to providing accommodations.
How Much Should You Tip?
We all know that a 15% to 20% tip is considered standard. In my opinion, if you are sharing a meal, the tip should be given based upon what the bill would have amounted to had you ordered separate entrees. Of course, the size of a tip is always dependent upon the quality of service, splitting or not.
Should the Customer Make the Plate Split?
I don’t like to be given an extra plate, particularly in an upscale restaurant, and asked to divide the meal myself. Most establishments will offer a “splitting fee” of $2 to $5 in order to take care of the division in the kitchen. This is not necessarily intended to make a statement that they’re annoyed with your decision to share! Rather, it generally is to cover the extras that they’ll include. Chefs take pride in the presentation of their meals, so they often need to add a little more food to each plate for this purpose. I have found, as a repeat customer, that I am no longer charged a splitting fee.
Choices made in restaurants are certainly up to each individual. I don’t think anyone, however, should be intimidated by the prospect of splitting a meal…no more than you would be for requesting salad dressing on the side. After all, those calories are going into your body, and that money is coming out of your pocket.