How Does a Server Decide Who Gets The Check?

Categories: Chow Bella

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail Miss a question? Go here.


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Cullen Campbell,
Chef and Owner, Crudo

We always give the check to the man and if there are more than one they will usually fight over it. Once I had a man ask for the check on the patio of the restaurant that I was working at, paid it, then asked for a boost over the wall to sneak away from his date. He left his date alone in the restaurant and he tipped the server extra for the boost. True story!

Amanda Bayuk, Manager/Event Coordinator,
Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House

Most of the time it's apparent what guest is in charge of the table. Often, it may be the guest who chooses the wine. Usually the guest in charge has a certain presence about him or her from the beginning. By the end of the meal if it is difficult to determine who the check should go to, it's ultimately put between two gentlemen or in the center of the table.

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Chef Steven Zimmerman,
Sheraton Crescent Hotel

If it's a male/female couple we tend to place the check near the gentlemen. If two or more guests, we place it in the middle of the table. Eye contact with the guest usually helps to decide where to place the check.

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Romeo Taus,
Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe

It's all about the Alpha! Group of women: the one that sets the expectations. Group of men: the one that orders the wine. Mixed couple: if not separate checks, the one that sets the tone of the dining experience. It's all about the Alpha!

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Kelsey Oisten,
Director of Marketing, Caballero

If a table has not already specified who is paying for the check, I always suggest placing the bill in the center of the table.

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Who ever asks for the check first gets the check.  Who ever orders a round get's the round on their bill.


you must always give the check to the person who asks first, even if it's the birthday girl on her own birthday, to not do so is violating server ethics.


I'm disappointed you didn't ask servers at these restaurants this question.  Many chef/owners have never waited a table in their life.  We are an integral and important part of the business and to be asked our opinion would have been nice!


Jesus, this isn't rocket science... 


1. If someone specifically asks for the check AND specifies that they want to pay it (I.e. 'Can I get OUR check?' vs. 'Can WE get THE check?'), hand it to them.


2. If it's an office or workplace sponsored dinner, give it to the boss/manger, whoever is in charge.


3. Otherwise, just set it in the center, even for a couple. It's 2012, let's go ahead and accept that the woman pays sometimes as well.


4. When all else fails, after you have rung up a single check and dropped it off, they will inevitably ask for separate checks, and will usually be confused abut what they entered. This likelihood increases with the number of guests, and never seems to happen when there are less than 10 people.


oh yeah, and with modern seat positions separate checks should not be an issue.  It makes you ready for any combination of splits.


 @jenniferpotapa1 Hi there, Jennifer. Many of the chefs/owners on this post did ask their servers this question and passed the answers on to me.

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