The Perfect Restaurant Storm

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 12/20/2010

I’ve often described working in a restaurant as Improv Theatre. Every shift presents unique circumstances and challenges, and even the most experienced professionals can be taken aback by the audacity of the human condition.

A seasoned general manager of a popular Boston restaurant sent me a text last week requesting to meet. Based on his extensive hospitality industry experience, I knew his story would not be an every-day tale of woe. When we met for breakfast the next day, he did not disappoint.

The Wednesday lunch started out like every other day for the GM and his front of the house staff of one hostess, two servers, a bartender and a busser. About 11:15, a handful of guests walked to the podium and said, “We’re going to be at least 30 for lunch.” After welcoming the guests and confirming that the group did not have a reservation, the hostess told them she would seat them momentarily after the staff moved a few tables together.

Within seconds the GM, staff and kitchen were alerted, and the restaurant went into ‘all hands on deck’ mode, with everyone pitching in wherever needed. The GM became waiter/busser/food runner/kitchen expediter; the executive chef stepped in as line cook; the hostess hustled to help the servers while the bartender pitched in everywhere.

And here’s what happened:

The party of 30 grew into a party of 47 students from a local college celebrating the completion of finals and the beginning of semester break.

Forty-five minutes elapsed between the arrival of the first guests and the 47th member of their party. Food and drink requests were a little frantic, with some guests shouting out their first drink order as others were already eating their entrées.

The group appeared to have a great time; the staff heard no complaints about the food or service. The total of the tab was a little less than $800 before tax and tip.

In the meantime, 4 small parties were seated along with another walk-in party of 23 high school students and their 2 teachers. The high schoolers enjoyed everything, paid with one credit card and thanked the staff for their efforts and teamwork.

Back to the party of 47 when the fun began with the dreaded request:

Could we have 47 separate checks? Followed by, Most of us have Groupons we want to use with each check.

The Groupon deal with the restaurant states that the purchaser receives $35 worth of food and drink for $15, one coupon redeemable per table, and one coupon per visit.

Since they were all seated at one long table on one tab, the GM told them they could use one Groupon towards their bill and then invited them to open separate checks at the bar to redeem their individual Groupons. Many were planning to extend their celebration in the bar after lunch, and they did.

The students countered with:

We thought separate checks would qualify as separate tables. If we knew we couldn’t use all of the Groupons we would have sat at separate tables.

Oh, brother…

The GM offered the group 3 options:

1. He would take the total, add the 18% automatic gratuity and tax, subtract out $35 for one Groupon, divide by 47 and present them with 47 equal checks. He advised them he would need time to process the separate checks.

2. He would furnish pens and paper for the whole group and they could determine what each one of them owed, and the GM would split up all of the charges and tabs accordingly.

3. He informed them that there was an ATM just outside and suggested that they determine what they ordered and owed, and to pay in cash if possible.

After a lengthy debate, the group agreed to combine options 2 and 3 by sorting out the bill on their own and writing their names and amount owed on pieces of paper. After the staff processed 31 credit cards and collected all of the cash, they were still $60 short. At that critical point, you always hope that one or two poor slobs will quietly step forward and kick in the rest of the money.

Sure enough, one guy came forward, apologized profusely, and paid the remaining $60. (The appreciative GM reciprocated by picking up his bar tab after lunch.)

I knew I would eventually need to address the issue of separate checks, but I never dreamed that it would involve a request for 47!!

Can you imagine walking into a restaurant with 46 of your closest friends with no phone call or reservation, enjoying a great lunch, then asking after the meal for separate checks? I can’t either!

What are your thoughts?

What is the largest walk-in party you have ever served or been part of?

Is 32 the largest number of separate checks ever processed for one party? If not, what is? I should have included this on my list of 64 Suggestions for Restaurant Customers. If you will be paying separately, inform your server before you order.


97 Responses to “The Perfect Restaurant Storm”

  1. Sarah says:

    Sounds like a nightmare… however, I always ask before I begin taking orders if it will be separate checks or all on one. That way, if it’s separate I can be sure to ring everything in under a seat number. Thinking separate checks counts as separate tables is just ridiculous.

  2. Chris says:

    They’re college kids finishing finals. Give them a break. The manager should have gone over and explained that what they were asking was not the norm or really appropriate but that they would be willing to accomodate them. Instead of being so obsessed with trying to squeeze every dollar out of these kids, understand that treating them well when they’re young and stupid could lead to more return customers who understand etiquette at this establishment and others.

  3. Mary says:

    Wow. I’d say he was more than accommodating. That is just crazy and is a reason why I shy away from Groupon-type offers in general.

  4. Phe says:

    Wow. The GM was amazing in this instance – and the expectation of the customer(s) was beyond the pale. And Chris, yes. They are college kids and they are finishing finals. But a restaurant isn’t in the business of giving away free food…otherwise it would be a soup kitchen. And I’d say the GM was way more than accomodating, including picking up the bar tab of the individual who quietly covered the remainder of the check.

  5. nana says:

    Wow. $60 is a huge shortage and I bet the servers didn’t get their 18% either.
    I’m pretty sure every college kid has a cell phone and couldn’t give the restaurant even five minutes warning? BS!!! The restaurant got no break, why should it be given to 47 ding dongs who can’t be bothered to think ahead?
    My restaurant has no auto gratuity or separate check policy at all!

  6. MC Slim JB says:

    The customer cluelessness here is simply jaw-dropping. Kudos to the staff there for not only trying to accommodate these children, but for not throttling them where they sat. This lends more support to my contention that we should issue fine dining licenses: you aren’t entitled to eat in a restaurant until you’ve worked in one for six weeks.

  7. JJJ says:

    The assumption should always be separate checks for such a large group. Did the waiter really think someone was going to pay for everyone?

    It’s not that hard to make up separate checks, so I don’t see why the hesitation to do so.

  8. Big Paulie says:

    We routinely give parties of up to 35 separate checks. Our servers, bless them, are good at this ’cause they have practice: there’s a college that’s local to us (it’s one of the costliest, tuition-wise, in the country) and the kids come in in large groups all the time. These kids are respectful and polite; they never fail to reserve (or if they do walk-in, it’s just four or six) and they reign-in unruly peers. We don’t participate in Groupon nor any other couponing program; we don’t need to.

    Sadly, every once in a while one of the kids slides out without paying. Invariably, these dead-beats are turned-in by their peers. These are A-list kids and I guarantee you that anyone who pulls a stunt like that isn’t invited to the next party at our place.

    All that being said, I have turned-away walk-in parties of as few as nine people, particularly when we’re crowded. We stage live musical shows Fridays and Saturdays and occasionally we get a group who attempt to make a reservation, find that we’re sold-out, and then gather their group together early, march in with both barrels loaded, and make various attempts to garner an already-reserved table. This includes scoping out the reso book and saying they’re someone else (doesn’t work any more ’cause we cross-check by telephone number) and all sorts of other machinations up to and including the ridiculous “What do you mean you’re sold-out? That table over there’s empty!” (It’s reserved for someone with a lot more class than you, loser!) I think I discussed these people in my comments in Patrick’s column about “Do You Know Who I Am?” people.

    My favorite conversation happens all too often:

    Them: (Pushing into the reception area with crossed arms and scowls on their faces) “We need a table for ten.”
    Me: “What name is the reservation under?”
    Them: “We didn’t make a reservation. We didn’t think we need a reservation.”
    Me: “Most of our tables have been reserved in advance this evening. Perhaps you and your party would like to wait in the bar until seating opens up, but I can’t guarantee when that’ll be.”
    Them: “Well, you better hurry or we’ll leave.”
    Me: “I’m so sorry you felt the need to threaten me. I suggest you leave right now and not waste your precious time any longer.”
    (At this point, they either just leave; or worse, they start having a tantrum which invariably includes threats like “I’ll tell all my friends what a horrible place this is…”)

    Unless the restaurant’s very large and over-staffed, large walk-in tables, except at slow times, disrupt all the other diners who took the time and care to reserve a table. Why should I compromise their dining experience for the sake of a boor who’s probably going to be troublesome, anyway?

  9. Brett says:

    Chris – in no way, shape or form do I think the GM was trying to milk these students for anything – and please stop with the “give them a break” mentality. That type of enabling behavior only encourages future problems.

    As for the separate checks, all I can say is wow. Most places don’t ask if the guests will want separate checks and for good reason. First, it’s distasteful as an introduction and second, the server would almost always rather one check and by asking, he or she is inviting a headache, without doubt. Personally, I’ve only had to deal with maybe 9 separate checks (not just split the check 9 ways but break it down individually by the item) and compared to this, I feel like a rookie!

    Kudos to the GM for realizing that he’s running a business and cannot risk hurting that business (or staff) just by allowing this kind of foolishness. As it is, I’m sure the whole check-paying process took about 1/2 an hour to conclude, which is 1/2 an hour he could have been using to talk to other guests, check on staff, etc. This is just another example of the guest having no idea that once they place an order, it doesn’t just magically appear 12-15 minutes later. There are actually people involved in the process of ordering, cooking, delivering, etc.

  10. Lou says:

    My biggest nightmare was with the Red Hat Ladies (?). They demanded 34 separate checks, paid with 28 credit cards and 6 cash transactions…and then wondered what took so long. Since then they have been asked to either pay by table (say tables of six or eight) or bring cash in denominations where change won’t be necessary. The 18% auto grat is an act of self preservation and mental health.

  11. Rob says:

    While this is clearly an extreme case, it’s always shocked me how separate checks are regarded as an inconvenience to the restaurant, particularly in NY and Boston. In most of the rest of the country, the wait staff usually offers separate checks.

  12. Jim says:

    I can’t imagine what else the restaurant could have done to be more accommodating. No way these kids actually thought the Groupon policy applied to separate checks and not separate parties. They were trying to game the system and got called on it, likely to the disappointment of a handful of cheapskates who expected a cheap meal and didn’t pony up their full share. And it’s sad that only one of 47 pitched in to cover the $60 difference instead of everyone throwing in another dollar or two. I guess there’s something to the studies that say today’s college kids lack empathy.

  13. lukeoneil says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than a few reviews on Yelp after this complaining about how the food took too long, or an order or two was messed up with no explanation that 47 different people basically were eating on 47 different schedules but expecting to be treated to the same service standards of a normal sized party.

  14. Mike R says:

    I’m curious to know if JJJ and Rob ever worked in a restaurant. Separate checks take a lot more time and when you are trying to give great service, time is very important. Our policy here is: No separate checks for groups of 6 or more and a maximum of 3 credit cards for payment. I think the manager and staff did a great job by accommodating this group. The most separate checks I’ve ever seen was at a casino I worked in Tucson. The Red Hat ladies were regulars and we did as many as 116 in one seating. At least they make reservations and you know how it is going to work.

  15. drew says:

    Oh my god, what a nightmare. The fact that they were college students is not surprising at all. I work at a restaurant/bar in cambridge kind of in the middle of mit and harvard, and the cluelessness and entitlement of these kids is nothing short of astounding. We have to deal with this sort of behaviour almost daily, and at the very least every weekend. One example on a smaller scale, was when I had 6 people pay for a $100 check with 7 credit cards. 6 people. 7 cards. And one of them paid with a card for his 3 dollar beer. Come on man, really?! I wanted to tell him if he didn’t have 3 bucks on his person that I would just buy him the beer. And why wouldn’t one of his friends just man up and buy him the goddamn beer? Unbelievable. Who goes out to dinner without a dollar? I would love to just be cash only. Other than that, I’ve gotten so used to 2 ppl coming in saying they’ll be a party of 15 or 20 and then taking up a giant section of the floor, ordering one at a time for the next four hrs, its ridiculous. Its as if the whole dining experience is a completely new concept to these people. Mind-boggling.

  16. Kara says:

    I just want to know what restaurant this happened at so I can go there with my most generously-tipping friends for dinner sometime. Unbelievable.

  17. Kim P says:

    These kids knew they couldn’t all used the groupon at a single table, it doesn’t matter if its separate checks. It’s clearly stated on the website. I think these kids did it on purpose, hoping that the restaurant will want to keep their business, since it was such a large group.

  18. Whytnee says:

    This is why I refuse to eat with more than 6 people at a table.

  19. tim says:

    this is just an extreme case of what a truly thankless business this is. everyday you go to work thinking what’s next. if it were ever about food and drink, restaurants would be a great business. the Food Network has destroyed the industry. Everyone thinks each meal comes in pretty pre-made portions and some human with a loud colorful outfit says, “look it’s easy”. it’s not. i also blame coffee shops. they have given license to linger and think that your $4 gives you rent for 4 hours, bathroom, internet, tissues, water and whatever else you can grab. old people are no better either. after 20 years of doing this, it’s just getting worse out there. i’m sure they were all “green” …funny how 47 checks of paper never bothers them

  20. Jimballs says:

    I used to work at a Mexican chain in Woburn, MA (their name rhymes with “Pawn the Boarder”) and had a similar experience with a group of 30ish patrons having a Christmas Party (AND Yankee Swap) in the middle of our main dining room one night last year.
    They all ordered meals, several drinks a piece, and 4 hours later when they’re ready for the check, they spring the “We want to split our checks 14 ways” on myself and the two other servers stuck with this nightmare. Our POS system only let us split the checks 6 ways- needless to say, they got pissy and raised a fuss, but we leveled with them and split up their tabs as best we could, and after another 45 minutes of drunkards’ math, they paid us.
    Honestly, I don’t remember if we got stiffed on the tip or not- I just remember that party was the biggest S-storm I had in my 2 years at that very busy restaurant.

  21. Groupie says:

    If you are running a GroupOn deal, this shouldn’t have been surprising. You are advertising to folks that hadn’t necessarily planned at eating at your restaurant and/or may not go out to eat a lot as well.

    Also, if it’s college kids, you definitely should have checked if it was altogether.

    A simple solution is requiring a reservation for any Groupon deal. The latest Groupon I bought has it (and was $15 for $30 in food).

  22. JZC says:

    This is why I don’t like expecting people to own up to what they owe. People always underestimate how much they owe. I live in WA and tax is about 10%. With an 18% tip, that’s roughly 30% on top of the menu price.

    Most people think, oh, I ordered a $12 entree (actually $12.95) and a $3 drink (actually $3.50). So I’ll add 15%, so that’s about… $17. In reality they owe about $21.

    I’ve done this many times, and I have to say I’m not surprised they were short $60. If I have to rely on people to throw in money, I always tell them to add at least 30% on top of the menu price. Or I calculate the total bill, split it and round up to the next dollar for each person.

  23. Mike says:

    Let’s take the kids out of the equation. What if these were a group of mature office workers? Consider this, I have purchased many Groupons over time. Look at them this way if you would – consider them a gift card of sorts. You pay $15 and you get a $35 gift card. Great Deal! The deal sours when the resturaunt sets restrictions hoping that it won’t have to lose as much profit. (Food cost is about 12% to 24%) Look at many other non-resturaunt Groupons – they operate just like a gift card, in fact, many allow you to use as many as you like. It’s really what makes Groupon a good value. I would tell the resturaunt, if you don’t like what Groupon is, don’t use it. Don’t add tiny disclaimers and then cry foul when no one see’s them. This is bait and switch at it’s worst. I’m sorry, I just can’t side with the resturaunt on this one. If they followed the rules and each customer sat one person to a table, they could have used their Groupons. 47 single diners at separate tables would have cost the resturaunt more than the 47 seated all together, but hey, they made the rules. For the student diners, maybe they should try resturant.com where they are selling actual $25 gift cards for just ten dollars. Use as many as you like to pay your bill!

  24. Marianna says:

    I would love to know what the NAME of the business is, here in Boston. So that I can go and eat there, NOT get separate checks and give a good tip!

    This is so awful! First off, I am ANTI-Groupon, for many many reasons. It ruins many restaurants and there is not a profit FROM the actual Groupon. Then I also am not a fan of broke college students who don’t have enough money to tip and to pay for what they had.

    Can you by chance let us know what the establishment is? Or email me? Thanks!

  25. Brooke says:

    Sounds like the server should’ve asked about the checks beforehand. Especially BECAUSE they were a large group!

  26. Jeep says:

    As a server that has been in the business for many years this sort of thing is becoming more common. Separate checks were never heard of 20 years ago we are lucky our POS allows us to do the checks just about any way they want it. We never ask if it is separate checks but when we have groups in we always assume it will be separate and be sure to take the order correctly and keep everyones food and drinks on the their own seat. When they say separate checks and we smile and say sure it will only take a minute customers are so shocked. The slowest part is processing all the debit and credit cards and there is always one that tries to slip out without paying you really have to watch it closely. As far as the coupons to bad for the customer if they don’t read the fine print separate tables means per table not per check. The GM went out of his way to accommodate them and they should have been happy with what they got. I work in a large restaurant and I can’t imagine any place big enough to make 1 table big enough for 47 people that is one huge place.

  27. Alfred says:

    @ 23 MIke…

    I agree with the “if you don’t like what Groupon is, don’t use it” but according to the story the group came in with the statement, “We’re going to be at least 30 for lunch.” There is no way that statement would lead any sane person to think there should be 30 tables much less 47 tables for all that showed up.

    Tiny disclaimers are included in almost every transaction be it on a coupon or straight contracts. It sounds like you would claim having a valid until date in smaller print than the name of the business would allow use for eternity.

    And I hope you are enjoying the food served at a restaurant that has 12% food costs.

  28. Ben says:

    @Mike: First, restaurant.com restricts you to one cert per month. Secondly, they almost always have a minimum food order, and don’t include alcohol.

    Groupon, while I think it is going downhill, is extremely upfront with the restrictions, moreso than many of their competitors. In fact, their restrictions are located ‘above the fold’ of the website(i.e. you don’t need to scroll down to see it). For example, one restaurant Groupon near me:

    http://www.groupon.com/deals/tria-biba-philadelphia?c=dnb&p=4

    The fine print is center of the page, not some ‘tiny disclaimer’.

    This is a bunch of arrogant students who tried to game the system and got caught. Simple as that.

  29. Kimberly says:

    I worked for two summers at a seafood place locally here in Maine where I am from. We had big parties a lot and most of the time they called ahead of time. One such party shut down our entire restaurant for lunch. There was about 40 people in the party and they were so demanding they made not only the server cry but our hardass, tough as steel manager cry!

  30. MK says:

    The “one per table” rule is standard for any restaurant Groupon, unless otherwise stated. And it is very clear on their website (as another post shows). If oyu don’t agree with it, don’t buy a Groupon.

    Besides, according to the story, the students knew that the rule existed, they were just trying to pass a separate check as being the same as a separate table.

    Just pass the check around and figure out what you owe. No need for separate checks.

  31. Relena says:

    @Mike -

    Dude. Restaurants.com has a very strict policy on their coupons about 1 per use. It’s in large print, along with the cheerful note to tip your server on the full amount, not the discounted amount.

  32. Jeff Toister says:

    This sounds like a very difficult situation that was handled exceptionally well by the GM and his staff.

    A similar situation is likely to happen again where a large group (possibly students) arrives unannounced. Unfortunately, you can’t control your customers but you can control how you serve them. I’m curious if the GM did an after action review with his staff to determine what they did well and what they’d do differently the next time something like this happened.

  33. Boston Restaurant GM says:

    I am in total agreement with the spirit of the posts which question allowing/disallowing. I decided to run a Groupon promotion based upon the terms & conditions. The consumer enters into this agreement as well. If we were required to accept more than 1 per table, that would have been a dealbreaker ergo NO DEAL. From a marketing/PR perspective, part of me wanted to allow it, however I am responsible for the business decisions I make to make sense, which means they must be financially sound well-informed ones. Groupon isn’t new, and it isn’t going away, so I’m certain that even though consumers want these group buying deals to be something they aren’t, it is inevitable for situations like this (or worse, maybe) to occur more frequently.

  34. drew says:

    Kudos to the GM for accommadating the group.. Honestly, a restaurant that can accomadate a walk in that size and is using Groupons, prob could use the business.

    I broke a check up for 19 individuals one night and it was a busy dinner shift. The 22% gratuity (yes, we put 22% on big party checks!) definately helped control my sanity. They also showed up in waves and kept switching seats despite me treating them like kindergarteners and telling them there would be issues with the check later. I originally told them I would not take more than 6 forms of payment but all the late arrivals didnt hear it and therefore complained. Luckily they all did the Prix Fixe menu and only had a drink a peice so after explaining (about 5 times) that everyone was within a couple bucks they atleast agreed to split it evenly. The people with cash were probably the worst though. Getting change for about half of them was a pain (and then explaining that we did not give coins back with our change). It was an interesting group but a total mess. They were not thrilled to see that bottled water was not complimentary (and they were thirsty!)! Being the shameless individual I am, I gladly accepted about 100 bucks worth of double tips as well :)

    I used to tell people we could only split evenly, mainly just so I could turn the table faster and get them out of there. Doesnt it completely ruin a good meal when you and your party sit there for 30 minutes and figure a check out?

  35. Luna says:

    College students, broke or not, that was the most ridiculous, classless and inconsiderate thing I’ve ever heard of. Come in and from the beginning let them know what your intentions are, separate checks. I think the GM was too kind. They never specified in the beginning what their intentions were, they sat in ONE table and dined together. I would have offered only ONE coupon, given them the check, had them sort it out among themselves and would have been glad they left. A customer is a customer but who knows how many other tables went by without “the best service” that could have been provided because of an unscheduled “party”. Tacky! College students = adults already. They knew what they were doing.

  36. RudeGubmintWorker says:

    What Luna said – “poor college student” is not an excuse to be inconsiderate. I earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s, so I was in college a long time, and I would never have considered treating waitstaff like that.

  37. For once I’m speechless! I can’t believe they could be so deliberately stupid. Now I guess we have to print massive disclaimers. What a mess! What a freakin mess!

  38. p.mac says:

    I think that the restaurant GM handled this situation quite well. He was being a good sport, to be sure. For him to present this large group of coupon holders with 3 options on how to pay their bill shows not only good bussiness sense, but a dash of wisdom in the mix.
    This restaurant GM single handedly, was coducting a college class of his own that afternoon. Some things aren’t learned in classrooms. Real life is a little more complex.
    If this group of 40+ was listening to this GM at the end of their meal, at check time, they all learnrd two valuable life lessons.
    #1: Always read the fine print.
    #2: Nothing’s for nothing.
    I applaud this restaurant GM. He must have the patience of a saint. He is obviously a good leader who can think on his feet, devise a game plan, and follow through with it. A restaurant manager’s job is based on problem solving, first. Great to hear that he handled this situation in such a professional manner.
    Some of these students may indeed return in the future. I have seen this happen more than a few times. It may take a few years, but if they had a good time and enjoyed themselves as students, they will recognize that the restaurant was a good experience, and will return once they enter the work force as adults with cash to spend.
    The ability to “reason” in this world does not come from books, but rather on the social end of things… stuff that you usually don’t learn at home, either. Again, I take my hat off to this restaurant “professor” for a job well done.

  39. p.mac says:

    The idea of offering separate checks to a table may come off as being a polite jesture in rural states, but it is an insult in major cities. The assumption here would be that this group has money issues. You, as the server, would be held responsible for determining this should this become an issue.
    It’s insulting to inform a restaurant customer that the glass of fine cognac he just ordered will cost him $35. One has to presume that the guest is familiar with the prices at fine restaurants, by the virtue of the fact that he knows of this cognac to begin with.
    Offering separrate checks to a table will only get you in hot water in the big city. You would stand at the risk of being accused of racial or social or ethnic “profiling”. You never want to go there, believe me.
    A few years ago, while dining out with a lady friend at a high-end Boston restaurant, I was informed by the young hostess at the door that she would be seating us in a booth in the diningroom, and that we could save ourselves a few bucks at the coat check room by taking our coats with us to the big booth. I suppose that she was just trying to be nice, but I had to feel that she had sized me up as some sort of cheapskate when I walked in the door. This stuck in my head all during dinner, and I did get a chance to speak with this young hostess, alone at the end of our meal. She explained that the coat room was actually filled to the brim when I was seated.
    Having been in the bussiness for over thirty years, I offered her a bit of advice that has served me well.
    “Never presume anything, and never second guess anyone. Always lay your cards on the table.”

  40. MikeZ says:

    “While this is clearly an extreme case, it’s always shocked me how separate checks are regarded as an inconvenience to the restaurant”

    I admit I’ve never worked as a waiter but I can easily see how separate checks could be a nightmare. When I eat out with a group it really isn’t clear who orders what. Sure drinks and Entrees are pretty clear, but Apps and Deserts are always shared items. So I wouldn’t envy the waitress trying to figure that out.

    For this particular case I think its more a matter of the students being idiots with regards to coupons. The separate checks just a side effect. Had the coupon been per person instead of per table separate checks wouldn’t have been an issue as everyone would have owed $15+tax+tip. That’s a pretty big mistake on the students part.

  41. John Mith says:

    What a nightmare. Additionally being internet savvy college kids that manager could have had 47 bad reviews about his establishment online if he did not handle the situation well.

    The group did “work the system” though trying to manipulate the groupon system to get something for nothing. The manager turned it around though and applied their groupons on his most profitable area (the bar) and made the students happy in the process. Win Win.

  42. Pedro says:

    #34 Drew said, “and then explaining that we did not give coins back with our change”

    That’s illegal.

  43. Ed, Watertown MA says:

    What school did these kids come from? I’m sure the Alumni Association would be very proud of their behavior and the school image they are creating.

  44. Jerry says:

    I still don’t understand why restaurants assume one person is going to pay for everyone…It always happened to my friends and I when we would go places and it kinda irritated me when the server would act annoyed with us when we asked them to separate it. First of all don’t assume a bunch of college age guys are going to cover each others expenses and secondly JUST ASK…

  45. OffalTruth says:

    Any time I see a college student I just assume the worst and prepare for it. I really don’t care if I piss them off, because more often than not, they’re the ones who are trying to pull something. College students used to be so cool. Now they’re nothing but whiny, self-entitled brats.

  46. Augie says:

    Yes, college student are brats now…but when I was one, they were much cooler.

    Why should a server assume that a group = separate checks?! Just because there’s one piece of paper that states what the table owes doesn’t mean that sum has to be paid by one person!

    Whenever I dine with a group, we look at the total, add the tip, divide by however many people are in our party, and then pay accordingly. It’s not rocket science. Seems like something college kids could figure out.

  47. jenn says:

    @ #44 Jerry — perhaps it isnt that the restaurants assume 1 person is going to pay for everyone, but they assume that most people are smart enough to look at the bill and figure out what they owe themselves, rather than requiring the waitstaff to sort it out and provide a separate total to everyone. its really not hard to figure out what you owe, as long as you aren’t a total cheapskate, and it saves time for the waitstaff. if i know i will want separate checks, i would always say something in advance.

  48. Trent says:

    “the hostess told them she would seat them momentarily after the staff moved a few tables together.”

    vs

    “Since they were all seated at one long table on one tab”

    The article/diner itself has two definitions of what a “table” is; yet is trying to yell at the students for thinking something fairly plausible, but different, as well.

  49. Meira says:

    The GM deserves a medal. I hope he’s suitably rewarded for handling this nightmare in such a classy way.

  50. Chris says:

    For those that are so against seperate checks, I ask, isn’t it in the restaurants best interest to allow patrons to pay how they feel is easiest? Splitting a single check can be difficult and can put the leader at the table in a difficult decision (split evenly, per exependiture). Simply allowing a table to split into seperate checks (based on what they ordered) is much easier for the customers who will remember this and be more likely to return. I think it’s unreasonable that a single check will suffice for a group of college kids coming. The servers could have simply asked 1 politely, is this on one check or would you like seperate itemized bills. Also, the manager probably should have seen this coming when he let 47 college kids without a reservation in and planned accordingly by determining how payment was going to occur.

  51. Scott says:

    The “they’re just college kids” excuse was covered w/ the bit about the high school kids who were polite. I agree with most, these schmucks were not clueless, they hoped to bully the staff with superior numbers. I have paid with separate checks, and I always try to throw in a bit more. I have always judged my acquaintances by this, if there is money left over when everybody has paid, they are decent (and honest) people. It’s as simple as doing the right thing.

  52. Scott- Amen, brother.

  53. v says:

    @ Jerry as well …

    Um, when I go out with a group of people, I usually bring CASH and can do the basic math required to enter college, thereby allowing me to calculate the portion I owe.

    Occasionally, my friends and I will split the check, but never on more than 2 cards, and with specific amounts (as in, $50 on the visa and $30 on the MC, or cash plus split the remainder between the 2 cards).

    Not hard. And actually assumes that checks are written per table as a dining practice … the way it is in the real world.

    I travel with college students a lot. When we do need separate checks for tax reasons, I ASK the waitperson if we can do that BEFORE we order.

    1 check doesn’t mean 1 person pays. Wherever did you get that misconception of the limits of accounting?

  54. dan says:

    Everyone’s job sucks. Most people have to deal with assholes. The only people who have a cottage industry whining about it though seem to be restaurant workers. If you operate a business who’s main cliental are human beings, don’t be shocked that they act like human beings. A large crowd of people are most likely going to be boisterous and enjoying themselves. If that’s too big a deal for you, simply don’t allow big groups and allow the free market to take its course.

  55. Risa says:

    As a waitress and the bookkeeper for a restaurant all I have to say is this:

    $800/47 = 17.02 + 3.06 (18% gratuity) + .85 (tax) = 20.93

    Who in their right mind goes out for food and drinks with less than $20 in their pocket/debit card. Not even college students can be that stupid/broke.

  56. Mary says:

    Oh did this bring back nightmares.
    The 80s. Working at what would be called nowadays a “family restaurant.” The Tuesday Morning Church Bowling League came in nearly every Tuesday for lunch, between 20 and 30 ladies, taking over half the restaurant. Demanding, shrill, sending everything back, and tipping approximately 3%. We expected separate checks, but every week there were new permutations – they fought over whose turn it was to pick up someone else’s check, and insisted it be added to theirs, a winning team demanded the losing team pay for their meals, etc. Instead of just literally picking up the individually written checks, they would tear them up or crumple it into a ball and insist on us re-issuing the check with both meals on it.
    The manager went to the same church and was mildly amused by the shenanigans. The waitresses and cooks were not.
    Tuesdays were HELL.

  57. Chris says:

    Risa- Guess you haven’t been a college student then. Many college students walk around with a lot less than 20 bucks in their pocket including yours truly when I was in college.

    Not sure if some of you never were college students or are too far removed but lots of time you don’t have cash and all you have is a credit card to get by on so 40 some credit cards doesn’t shock me. These kids finished finals and wanted to celebrate with a meal out, the majority didn’t have cash and were hoping to use the groupon and a credit card to get by. This to me rings of the same things I use to do in college when I didn’t have cash and wanted to eat out. Kind of like going to the Olive Garden, ordering an entree, and filling yourself up on bread and soup, taking the entree home and having 2 dinners. You got to do what you got do to get by in college some time.

  58. Steve says:

    My response, as a mangager, would have been: one group, one check, one payment. The offer to have them do the math was genius. The request for 47 separate checks is unreasonable in any imagination and there should be no problem with voicing that.
    The most I have had to process was 17, with no computer system. It took 15 minutes to run the debit cards alone.

    re: Dan – Sometimes, yes, everyone’s job sucks. But when someone asks you to perform a task that will compromise the service to the rest of your immediate clientele (dividing a check 47 different ways, processing 47 separate payments, is time consuming beyond reason), it is okay to say NO.

  59. Vicky says:

    After being a server or in some sort of the Restaurant biz, I will say this. There seems to be a whole lot of forgivness for the fact that they are students. People need to be educated about restaurant etiquette. Teach your kids early how to act and how to tip early!!! I have 3 kids..26, 22, 20. They are all aware on how to act in a large group in a restaurant AND how to tip. 47 checks with groupons is insane. Out of 47 college kids, you’d think that at least one or two would have stepped to be the voice of reason..Yikes!

  60. Vicky says:

    Oh, and I wanted to add that reading the above comments can tell me with close to 100% accuracy who has and who has not worked as a server!

  61. JulietsButterfly says:

    I’m thankful that when I worked in food service, it was a pizza place. We would get large groups of maybe 20+ that showed up. Usually they would order as they came in and they paid as they sat down. The most confusing part would be when we brought the food out because the seating was “seat yourself” and people would move around a lot.

    The last really large group that I was a part of was at a tavern/bar for my high school reunion. We had to be at least 40 people by the end of the night. As we went in and ordered drinks and food, the server set up a separate tab for everyone. My DH and I were on the same tab, but people who came alone had a tab and a few groups of people shared. The hostess of the reunion made sure that everyone paid. We tipped more than we should have because I figured some of my classmates might not have tipped. Besides, the service was good and we were a large group of stress.

    Most places in my town tell you up front if they can’t split checks for large parties. Usually someone has to be able to pay for everything. It’s best to just bring cash if you’re in a large group. When I went out to eat with 5 friends last week we gave the person paying money for our share of the bill and tip. That’s how it works.

    You have to let the restaurant know in advance if you’re using coupons and stuff. And to pull that crap after you’ve been served is just rude, plain and simple. I wish I knew which restaurant this was. I’d gladly enjoy the excellent service and appreciate the servers.

  62. Fitz says:

    They’re college kids just finishing up finals, give them a break? That is ludicrous. If their failure at restaurant decency is an indicator, then they ought to rethink how prepared college is getting them through life. Point-blank, these kids thought they were going to game the system to their advantage. Separate checks = separate tables? Please. They didn’t even bring enough money to cover their meals, coming up $60 short. Clear evidence they came to game the system. I’m sure they guffawed all the way back to the junior college and aced their gym final.

  63. Bill says:

    I work in a little Italian cafe in winter park FL and we had a party of 18, which normally is not so bad except that after i took their order and the other server got their salad order in a specific order … AL THE MEN AT THE TABLE ROTATED AROUND THE TABLE JUST TO SCREW WITH THE WAIT-STAFF. And once the checks which were supposedly be individual ended up being guess who’s on a check with who… and then they tipped about 15% after it was all done… after all the extra work they could of at least givin us 30% since it was split between 2 ppl

  64. jeannie says:

    The biggest problem in this scenario are the other customers that probably had a bad experience because of this one group. We are in the service industry and should happily accommodate requests for separate checks etc. With that said, customers must realize that the service staff is only human and there are other patrons in the restaurant that also deserve the same level of hospitality. Of course when a business decides to participate in groupon they must realize that groups like this are probably par for the course.

  65. kevin says:

    Something in this story seems exaggerated.

    $800/47=~$17. The Groupon was for a $35 purchase. How could almost everyone have expected to use their groupon when the average bill was less than half the required minimum?

  66. cls says:

    So let me get this straight: a group of 32…errrr….47 comes into the restaurant without a reservation, near the time the kitchen closes, tries to manipulate the terms and conditions of a coupon and THEN asks for separate checks?! Oh wait, and THEN they are $60 short on the check!!! C’mon people! Kudos to the establishment, manager and staff for not only accommodating the group, but also for honoring the terms and conditions of the Groupon, which they DO NOT have to do. The group is supposed to present the coupon prior to service to alert the service staff to it, AND to prevent problems like this from occurring in the first place.

    As far as separate checks are concerned, I think it is important for some of our readers to observe proper etiquette. From an operational standpoint, you can’t expect a server to ask each group if they require separate checks. Remember, the staff is operating an establishment that serves MORE THAN JUST YOUR GROUP! Processing separate checks for large groups (not so much for groups of 4 or less) is very time consuming, especially if you are not notified to do so in advance. This compromises the level of service not just of all the other guests in the restaurant, but also for YOUR group. Simply put, it is the guest’s responsibility to request separate checks in advance of service. Anyone who would expect a server to ask this of every group is simply naive.

    Let’s just call this what it is: 42 kids that don’t know how to behave appropriately when they go out to eat. Maybe they learned something on this night. For those of you that think it is somehow appropriate to request separate checks each time you dine, you may want to consider the impression you give your fellow diners and the people that serve you. Remember, service in a restaurant is a privilege, not a right. SO…act like you’ve been there before, treat the staff well, tip generously and maybe even buy someone a drink this Holiday Season. Trust me, you’ll receive better service wherever you go, and you’ll enjoy the experience far more when you aren’t concerning yourself so much with the money.

    Oh, and if you’ve never actually worked in a restaurant, maybe think twice about judging how things should operate eh?

  67. Jeff Armour says:

    I have to say that I can sympatize with this scenario. I am the GM for the on campus bars and restaurants at UWO. With the campus meal plan this scenario is not only common but almost the standard. Now instead of it being a nightmare we have customized our service package to absorb the problems. Although we cannot force people to make reservations we do prepare for it and even if they do make a reservation we begin guiding the process from there.
    We expect seperate checks and our largest reservation to date is still standing at 78. Our largest walkin that we have accepted is around 60 (that turned into a 70). The table is huge but we split it up and each server gets 10 people (an 80 requires 8 servers). Food comes out in sections, usually by the sub-table, and we warn EVERYONE in the party that we are trying our best but to be patient and that some people will be eating before others even get their food.
    Not pretty but it is something that comes with the territory when you are on campus.

    At what point do most of you go to auto-grat? monetary value or seat number?

  68. kevin-

    $800 tab
    $144 = 18% auto-grat
    $56 = tax

    Total = $1,000

    If the group had it their way they would have used 29 Groupons to cover the whole tab.

  69. Liza says:

    it is a real pain in the ass when you get 40 walk-ins and you have limited staff. i work sole-charge of a 60 seat restaurant and having large groups walk in is very stressful. especially when there are other people in the restaurant wanting your attention but the group cant order all their drinks at the same time and instead have to order a new drink every time you drop off the last one.
    on the other hand, my dockets always have guests under seat numbers, and with a large group i inform them that the meals will be going to the place that ordered them, so if they move they will have to move back to get their meals.. it helps with working out where the food is going, and when they come up to pay, i know exactly where the people have sat at their table and work out their bill for them… very convenient since i find that most of my customers forget what they ordered, and you know exactly who the person is who stiffed the rest on their bill.
    individual bills take a long time to process, but there are ways to make it easier without being rude and angry about the situation.

  70. Jen says:

    Groupons: I’m glad the GM in this scenario stuck to his guns. If a college student isn’t brilliant enough to understand the conditions of the coupon and think, “Yeah, it’s probably not gonna fly if we do this,” then he’s probably not going to be celebrating graduation any time soon.

    Seperate Tickets: It is my practice, and the practice of the restaurants I’ve worked for that everything is seperated by seats or tabs from the get-go, and that large parties (12/15+) be split among servers. Then one server can take guests 1-9, the next 10-19, etc. If the restaurant can accomodate making food for 47 people practically at once, they should have the wait staff to accomodate such a group as well.

    My verdict: The college kids in this situation should be shamed for taking advantage of such an accomodating restaurant. The restaurant should get in the habit of informing large parties from the get-go, “If anyone plans on using a Groupon, we only accept one per table per visit,” and making sure all tickets are kept seperate until the end.

  71. matt says:

    @ jerry #44
    think about what wastes more time for everyone involved splitting your cash evenly among the table or figuring out what you all ordered by the itemized bill you are given or having someone who is most likely very very busy trying to give other diners the same service they have provided for you. in doing this you slow down and create problems for the other diners. quite a selfish way to be. who says because a table or 2 or 4 or 47 gets one bill only one person has to pay? dear lord i wonder what field you are in with those problem solving abilities. everytime you slow a server down it causes a ripple effect throughout the entire restaurant that i dont think the casual customer understands. if you ask your server to stop in their tracks and go over your bill to figure out what several people had and who owes what on dishes that were shared you have set that servers other tables back at the very least five to ten minutes depending on how many people are at your table. in the restaurant world on a busy night that is an eternity to a table looking around with a question for their server, but because of selfish people they arent available and generally when this happens said servers tips suffer. then you are not only creating a headache for the server but you are causing him or her to lose money. i agree with the person who brought up the point that in big cities like boston ny la etc… it is considered rude and inconsiderate to assume parties want seperate checks. and i would like to add that having worked in the business for ten years almost always when there are checks split between more than three people someone always screws the server over on the tip thinking that one of the other diners will cover them.

  72. Biggest walk in for a single party? 200. Twice
    At the time I was managing a small bar/restaurant which was next door to a popular Church for weddings. a woman walked in at 11am and said their wedding party would be having “pre drinks” at our place, then a coach would be arriving to pick them up for the reception.
    Cue 200+ Guests arriving all ordering food and drink, half of whom were convinced that there was a tab behind the bar “Cos its a wedding”
    After sorting everything out and getting all the bills etc ready and managing to get payment as the guests were disappearing in and out constantly they all went off for the ceremony.
    Then they came back and we had to do it all over again.
    To top it all off their coach arrived and they began to pile into it, absconding with half of the glasses stock just dropping their empties into the road smashing them or just running off. Most of our profit from them was lost in having to buy new glassware.

  73. Dick says:

    This is typical for college students. Inconsiderate, dopey and self-entitled behavior.

    Of course they should have requested separate checks, they should have announced the groupon and they should have tipped. Those are the standard and polite things to do when you visit a restaurant.

    Im surprised the restaurant was able to handle it as well as they did! Tip to any students out there: Do your absolute best to act like a grown up when your in grown up situations. Save the college-tude for college situations.

  74. andy says:

    if you’re apologizing for these college students on the premise that it’s normal for students to not have much cash, you are an idiot. if you don’t have much cash, don’t go out spending money you don’t have. these kids wanted to go out and have a good time. if they’re in college, they should know that you have to pay to get what you want in life. if they don’t know that by this age, they should ask for refunds from their alma maters and apologies from their parents. they should be grateful the restaurant staff was generous and patient.

  75. outrageous says:

    This is outrageous, clearly these kids were trying to take advantage of the restaurant’s generosity. Please send me an e-mail with the restaurant’s name. I want to go there and give these people a huge tip to make up for these inconsiderate people.

  76. Mr. Mountain says:

    With such a large group, I think it behooves the waitstaff to ask before hand if separate checks are needed. Actually, as waitstaff, I would assume that from the get go, seeing so many people. So waitstaff should just routinely ask that.

    I’m trying to remember what happened the last time I did something similar. A much smaller group (no more than 15), only 2 people came after most of us were seated. I go to this place a lot. I don’t remember telling waitstaff we wanted sep checks. I think when it came time to pay waitstaff asked about it before providing us w/the bills. It wouldn’t have been 15 diff bills either, maybe around 5. There were no coupons! No one had a prob w/their bill, and no one was short. Everyone paid and tipped.

    I wonder about the students too. When I was a college student, I wouldn’t have thought to specify about separate checks. I never saw people do that when I grew up (I’m 50 now). I don’t know if they even let you have separate checks back then! But that was a different time.

    I do fault the students for being inconsiderate w/such a large group.

    With coupons, I always read the small print, and in fact I always say I have a coupon to begin with, even if it doesn’t say to do so, just to avoid problems.

    It does sound the staff coped as well as they could, no one got angry and pulled out a gun, as happens a lot in the US.

  77. msg33 says:

    Some of the restaurants in my area (near a large state university) have the following policy for large groups and/or groups requesting individual checks:

    a debit or credit card from each guest must be held as a security deposit prior to being seated. (likely after a few too many scenarios like this one with some guests leaving without paying etc)

    They will then usually ask for each guest’s name at the time orders are made the items/names are correctly paired. If guests want to order items “for the table” etc, one of the guests must place that item on his own tab, and arrange to have the others reimburse him.

  78. kevin says:

    Patrick-
    Ignoring the fact that 29 groupons is still not 47, the $35 never includes tip + tax. It’s $35 worth of food + drink for $15, not $35 worth of food + drink + tip + tax.

    And even if it did, it would be impossible to have 47 separate checks as the story says and use 29 groupons. What it is, I don’t know, but SOMETHING is incorrect in this story.

  79. marissa says:

    completely ridiculous but that’s what happens with “kids”. i ALWAYS hated waiting on teens and college students, but that’s not the worst. I’ve had a party of about 55 or so, on a saturday night, with no help from any other server, they almost all asked for sep. checks after they ate,and i kindly allowed them to use coupons, even though most of them where expired… and nobody left a tip =( Soooooooooo glad i’m not a waitress anymore, 6 years was enough for me!!

  80. CB says:

    I don’t buy it.

    Those students knew exactly what they were doing, they never thought “separate checks = separate tables” – that doesn’t even make sense.

    The manager acted amazingly and should get a raise!

    I imagine that the students “didn’t know” they were supposed to tip on the actual dollar amount BEFORE the coupon, heck I bet those poor saps “didn’t know” they were even suppose to tip, right?!

    My Dad owned a really nice restaurant and it was a busy holiday night. In walks a HUGE group, no reservation. The staff bent over backwards and created a banquet table, pulled 4 waitresses to serve them, had busboys step in to help finish other tables. The 4 waitresses ran around making sure their every need was met (while also trying to help with their original tables).

    Then end of the night came and the host of the group told my Dad how wonderful everything was, the food, the service – it was all great. The host paid for his bill to the penny – NO tip (this was before the days of gratuity included with large groups).

    My Dad was appalled and tipped the wait staff himself.

  81. Elmo says:

    I’m just a patron but I think that anyone who thinks they can just waltz into an establishment en masse without making a reservation is rude, crude, (possibly lewd), and socially unacceptable. Of course that does cover most college students. Our department has its Winter Solstice Associated Holidays event at a local restaurant nearby. We used to get separate checks but one year there was a problem with a refused credit card and someone else insisting that he be given the 5-cents change he had coming to him on a pre-tip bill. After that, the restaurant requested some help so what we do is get the menu a week in advance, pre-order, have the bill for each individual calculated with the gratuity included and one person collects cash in advance.

  82. drew says:

    reading comments defending these kids is really frustrating and disconcerting. the problem is, they sat down in a restaurant to have a meal and exhibited little to no regard for the etiquette involved in a social dining experience. the fact that so many people cant recognize that and are saying that the restaurant should try harder to accommodate every whim of every guest is outrageous. why should we be holding peoples hands? SERVER NOT SERVANT!

  83. kevin- The group requested 47 separate checks and 29 of them wanted to use as much of the $35 value of their Groupons towards their individual bills as possible. As I mentioned, they were allowed to use just one Groupon for the entire bill, and that Groupon was applied to the last tab that was paid with cash.

  84. Harold F. says:

    It doesn’t take a genius to do the math that people want something for free even if it is clearly written out what is what in black-and-white. It just shows what comes first for these college kids who hide away in college rather than see it as part of the world that includes the restaraunt staff. Talk about a sense of entitlement! No tip as well? What are you doing in a restaraunt then? Everyone knows people like that. When those same people would have to be in the position of waiting tables or other such employment situations, they would then be the first to complain. All I can add is that Karma’s a ***** so they should look out ahead.

  85. Fuck that! no separate checks-royal pain in the ass! anyone that leaves the house without $20.00 in their pocket is an idiot. The problem is chain restaurants give separate cheks, so people think all restaurants should do separate checks. A. if my server is off the floor for a half an hour, i’m not making money. B. each card costs 3 percent to process. And finally- make a fucking reso!!

  86. Biss says:

    Few things I want to say- 1. If the groupon reads “1 per table”, that’s one per table. 2. Who gives a flying fuck about treating these kids “right”. Cheap fucks don’t get less cheap as thy age. Lessons need to be taught while kids are young. 3. I think that the manager handed this pretty well. I feel bad for the staff. Getting stiffed on a tip like that is terrible, especially when a swarm of 47 people will cause such chaos in any restaurant. Even calling ahead isn’t enough.
    Kiddies – I suggest Chuck E Cheese for the next graduation party?

  87. laura says:

    The bottom line is service. And if a server has to total up 47 individual checks and then run them through a credit card machine, just how much time do you think it takes? Let’s try an hour!!! And gee, I’m sorry but waitresses don’t have secretaries to do their dirty work!! And in the meantime who the hell do you think is taking care of their other customers?
    And no! No one expects that one person is going to foot the entire bill you idiots! What you do is hit the ATM machine first so that at the end of the night when one person pays with a credit card, you can pay him/her back. I used to cringe when the kids from the local private college came to our inn for an end of year outing complete with expensively streaked hair and manicures and armed with their credit cards (all 200 of them!). They were totally clueless! My daughter now attends this very same college (scholorships) and while she may have been raised in a lower middle class home, even she knows how to behave in a restaurant (she did her own time at KFC and hates all senior citizens!).
    I waitressed for 10 years, quit 2 years ago, and still have nightmares. What’s funny is, I just posted about a nightmarish 32 hour waitressing weekend on my blog. My blog is my therapy!

  88. mikedev says:

    To the people saying that the students should have been asked if they wanted separate checks: If you go to a restaurant and say you have a party of x number, the wait staff is going to assume it is one check. It is just the same as if you go to a store and buy an item. The cashier isn’t going to ask you if you want your change back in pennies.

    I think the real problem is that the younger generations haven’t been taught proper etiquette.

  89. Taxi says:

    Unfortunately this is one of the reasons that I had to get out of the business: I could no longer stomach many of jackasses that would come in and try to pull shit like this. The management and staff should be commended. Truly. Chances are, had I been in the FOH, I would have let them know the deal as they walked in the door. 47 people? Come on. You know its going to be a shit storm. Forget the fact that they were college students.

    @CB: that note of yours about your Dad’s place made me cringe. There definitely should have been a “go fuck yourself” tirade and a snapshot of that idiot.

    Oh, Happy New Year!

  90. Kent says:

    The GM should go down in restaurant history for handling the situation so well. My wife and I have owned a restaurant for 10 years (I have 25 years mgment experience). Our restaurant recently burned (100% loss) and we are working on rebuilding. Reading this had brought back nightmares. We are (were) located very close to a local park which sponsered league team ball. The operators usually advised us on how many teams would be there. The week of this event we were told no games. wrong! We were hit on Saturday with 80 people in separate parties all showing at one time which was between games. The staff handled it extremely well-everyone was served withing 30 minutes. On their way out my wife was confronted with one who thought 30 minutes was too long and was refusing to pay. She asked if the food was good..yes…was there anything wrong other than it took 30 minutes to get your food…no..then we will not discount sir, thirty minutes not excessive when you are serving 80 people. He became VERY irate. My wife very politely advised him that there was a Mcdonalds just up the street, perhaps if he was in that big of a hurry he should have chosen them. As she was turning to leave and the cashier was handing him his change he loudly announced to all that everything was terrible, we did not care about our customers, and HE WOULD NOT BE BACK. I arrived on the scene at this time and have never been more proud of my wife. She turned calmly and said…sir you flatter yourself in thinking that we want you back, the fact that we do care about our customers and the quality of their experience is exactly why we are delighted to hear that you and your disrupive attitude won’t be back.

    After all my years I could not have handled the situation as well as this GM did.

  91. wb says:

    I’m a former waitress, so I’m very sensitive to the issues from the servers’ side. About 10 years ago the volunteers for my walking event went to a local brewpub for our celebration after the end of the walk. There were at least 15 of us, but it was a slow night and the pub was happy for the business.

    The pub didn’t do separate checks for a large group, so I collected up what everybody thought they owed and it came in $25 short. (They left their own tips on the table and most were out the door before I went to the register). I think the problem was sales tax — over half of the group were from the adjacent non-tax state. I made up the difference.

    After that, I simply picked up the whole tab for such gatherings. Otherwise, I was grumpy about footing the bill for the stingy/poor at math folks. Better to be the magnanamous host than the stiffed lackey.

  92. Jeremy says:

    The sad part is, not one person has brought up what a pain in the ass it is for the kitchen to receive 47 seperate food chits, at random intervals. This is the added hassle of split bills which no customer ever thinks of. By telling your server up front that you wish it seperate (and the onus is on the customer, we’re not mind readers) the kitchen can be warned of the upcoming shit storm.

  93. Jeremy says:

    P.S. Only $60 short on a 47 person split, that is freaking amazing. I’ve seen larger shortages on a 6 person split. Math is very rarely a persons strong suit when it comes to ponying up the cash.

  94. JK says:

    As a seasoned GM, I once had to split a check 12 ways for a party of 10 – it was ridiculous… and the kicker.. the tab was less than $150. Our POS didn’t allow servers to split a check more than a certain number so it required a manager access card.. but I’ve definitely seen the entitlement of one too many inconsiderate individuals who just don’t have the slightest clue or courtesy for that matter. My advice to these donkeys – bring cash and just be courteous.

  95. DT says:

    Sounds awful! But, to not have to see them again, I would have used all their groupons so our relationship with them ended forever

  96. Trent says:

    To all the people equating not having cash /w not having money. You’re stupid.

    Restaurant/Servers: The first day of training I was told to ask how the bill would be split in the beginning. The first time I forgot to do so with a large group it bit me in the ass. How the hell does an establishment assume one person will be paying for 47 meals?

    There would have been no “$60″ short if the establishment did its job and got the order/check split done right to begin with. They do not get “props” for fixing a problem they could have wholly avoided.

  97. Alex says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with ‘Well they needed to split the bill for them!’ This is obviously a case of a bunch of collage kids thinking they were going to go in and scam.

    To me it’s obvious though because I’ve seen this behavior before in other large groups of 20 somethings at restaurants. They think that because it’s such a large group of them, if they just make a big enough fuss they’ll get their way. I hate to be that critical but based on what I’ve seen, that’s hands down the situation here, not these kids being ‘uninformed’ or ‘clueless of the rules’ they were just thinking they’d pull off a scam.

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