Jump to content

Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.


Check Please

  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 weinoo

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 7,014 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 30 March 2013 - 06:24 AM

One of my (of course) pet peeves is the wait, certainly in America, to get out of a restaurant after you're done eating.


And, this week in The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky tackles the issue head on in a piece entitled 

Are You a Restaurant Lingerer?


Now, I may not be as much of a extreme case as Tomasky, who even says:


Now I admit that I'm a bit of an extreme case. I take a strictly utilitarian view of dining out, and when I'm done, I'm done. I want to leave. I get a perverse kick out of shocking waiters, especially at sightly higher-end places, when I ask for the check while they're clearing the dishes. When they return with the bill I have my credit card out and just hand it to them.


However, when I'm done, I pretty much want to pay my check and leave. 


How about you?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"
Tasty Travails - My Blog
My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs
Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

#2 liuzhou

  • participating member
  • 2,784 posts
  • Location:Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:00 AM

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Depends on the restaurant, the company, the evening.


But if they are too slow at bringing the bill when I want to leave, I just get up and make to go. That seems to wake them up.

#3 Syzygies

  • participating member
  • 293 posts

Posted 30 March 2013 - 09:09 AM

I sometimes swap my credit card for the dinner plate, if I can't manage to pay in advance.

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"
Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

#4 gfweb

  • participating member
  • 4,792 posts
  • Location:Southern Chester Co.

Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:15 PM

Me too. "Check please "means I want to go now. Now. Don't up sell me dessert or brandy. Don't go do five other things. Go get the check.

#5 Chris Hennes

Chris Hennes

    Director of Operations

  • manager
  • 8,402 posts
  • Location:Norman, Oklahoma

Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:21 PM

I guess if I specifically ask for a check I expect it to be brought promptly, but I can't recall it ever not, so I guess I haven't really taken issue with it. That said, I am not—as Tomasky calls himself—a "utilitarian" diner: I definitely tend to linger, and am usually (especially at nicer places), happy to be sold dessert, after-dinner drinks, etc.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations

#6 The J

The J
  • participating member
  • 36 posts

Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:59 PM

For me it's situational.  The time when it really gets to me is lunch on a weekday.  There are a few restaurants I'll go to with coworkers where it takes a while to get the check.  It's not really understandable either, considering these places are in the middle of a business district and it's pretty clear we're in the middle of the work day.  While sometimes we take slightly longer lunches, once we get to the check phase of the meal, it should be done quickly.


I also agree with gfweb -- once we ask for the check, that's all we want.  It bugs me when I spot the waiter, make the whole "bring the check" gesture, and then a couple minutes later the waiter shows up, without the check, asking if we want anything else.

#7 janeer

  • participating member
  • 1,255 posts

Posted 30 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

Yes, when I want my check, I want my check, and some waiters tend to forget about you once they've given you your food.


But my real pet peeve is actually the opposite: wait staff who bring you your check and put it down while you are still eating in a "here's your hat, what's your hurry" way. Unless it's a diner, this drives me nuts. Sometimes they don't even ask if you want anything else. I've had this happen at high-end restaurants more times than you would believe. 

#8 djyee100

  • society donor
  • 1,658 posts
  • Location:San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 30 March 2013 - 02:25 PM

I must be one of the easy people in the world. When the waiter asks if I want to see the dessert menu, I always say yes, even if I'm too full to eat dessert. I want to read the dessert menu to check out what they're serving.

If I'm dining alone, I ask for the check when the last course is served, i.e., dessert or coffee. The check always comes promptly. With friends, we are all involved in conversation, so nobody asks for the check. I don't notice unusually long waits then, either. But then--we're all talking and having a good time, so who cares?

It seems to me that waitstaff aren't supposed to read your mind to tell if you are a utilitarian or lingerer. It's also in their interest to turn the tables and get more tips, so delay is probably unintentional. I'll flag down waitstaff for a check if I'm in a hurry--or let my waiter know at the start of the meal that I have to leave at a certain time. What's the big deal?

#9 ChrisTaylor

  • host
  • 2,513 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 30 March 2013 - 02:30 PM

From memory, the only places I've been to--expensive or inexpensive seems to have little to do with it, altho' it seems more common at the lower end of the price scale--that piss fart around with bringing you the bill after you've asked for it also took a long time to bring out menus, drinks, food, et al. If it takes ~10 minutes to go from 'bill, please' to being handed the bill then there are probably a few grains of sand in the gears (with the exception of when it's obviously really busy).

Edited by ChrisTaylor, 30 March 2013 - 02:31 PM.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org


I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

#10 gfweb

  • participating member
  • 4,792 posts
  • Location:Southern Chester Co.

Posted 30 March 2013 - 02:54 PM

I think part of the issue is training or lack of it. The ones who upsell/push stuff after you've asked for the check have been instructed to do it. The ones who go and bus three tables have had no instruction at all. And not so much common sense either, after all as far as tipping is concerned, last impressions count the most.