How to Eat Out With a Group in a Big City: Etiquette

    May 1, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Eating out with a group of people can be a daunting experience when it comes to getting the bill and hoping all your fuckwad friends pay their fair share. Here are some tips on dining out with a group of people, from manners during your meal to quickly figuring out who is a douchebag who can’t be trusted or at least dined with in public.

    If you have to complain, do it politely. No one likes a rude baby; neither the staff nor your friends want to put up with your attitude. Not only are you trying to avoid making the staff hate you (and risking them doing dirty, dirty things to your food behind closed kitchen doors), but you don’t want to embarrass your party by acting like an entitled dickbag when the waitress forgets to give you ketchup or accidentally gives you the wrong drink.

    Having good manners includes using terms like excuse me and sorry to bother you, and remembering to say thank you and express gratitude when things are done for you — even if they are “just doing their job.” Treating people with respect will make others want to be nice to you and can mean the difference between getting hooked up with free shit and being charged with something you don’t really like. If you’re nice to your servers, they’re more likely to want to be nice back. It doesn’t matter whether you think this is fair or not because it’s pretty plainly and simply just the way the world works.

    Don’t hog shared plates. If you order some appetizers for the table, don’t take a giant meaty fistful of chicken wings before beginning to pass the remainders down the table; consider others in your gluttony and make sure everyone is taken care of, even if you are secretly glaring hatefully the guy who got the last fried Oreo and who you didn’t even invite.

    When it comes to paying, make sure you’ve more than covered your ‘fair share.’ Besides accurately adding up everything you’ve ordered, remember to factor in the tax and tip for your meal. Giving merely what is owed before calculating these last two add-ons is stingy and going to either force someone else to cover your tax and tip or cause the entire table to sit around awkwardly trying to figure out who owes extra money without pointing fingers and insulting anyone.

    Group meals are easier and more enjoyable when all the participants are considerate adults when it comes to the check; in other words, it will quickly become clear to you who is a fair individual and who is a cheap asshole who is making the experience shittier and a little sour for everyone. If you’re coming up short on the bill and notice the same person skimping out on more than one occasion, you can assume that this is standard procedure for this person and try to avoid eating out with them in public. One way to make sure you avoid this is to ask the waiter or waitress to split the check up individually, but some restaurants don’t want to be bothered with this and it can be especially troublesome for larger parties. You can try politely calling out the bad apple, but this feels tedious and uncomfortable and will probably happen again unless you stop inviting Leechy Larry out to your Sunday brunches.

    If you feel like you don't need to tip, stay home. While tipping is arguably cultural, it's usually a given part of the 'dining out' experience. Food service folks have to touch grubby shit all day, work super hard and put up with your shitty attitude when your pancakes aren't crispy enough or your water has too many ice cubes. Tips mean a lot to them.

    If you’re a decent person not only cares about the well being of others but also understands that your well being depends a great deal on the happiness of others and how you treat them, you should be fine. If you’re a cheap (note: not frugal; there is a huge difference) jerk, don’t be surprised when you’re eating ramen alone while all your friends are getting hyphy at The Waffle House.

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