The Dining Divide


Last week, Grace and Jill met up with a group of their teacher friends for what they thought was going to be an impromptu and inexpensive dinner to celebrate the end of the semester.  However, when their friend Betsy led the group to her favorite upscale Italian restaurant, it became clear that the majority of the ladies had planned for a much more extravagant evening than either Grace’s or Jill’s wallets could handle.

Grace and Jill attempted to convince the others to go somewhere that was a ‘more bang for your buck’ kind of place, but the rest of the teachers were adamant that they all deserved to splurge, and that this had been the plan all along – didn’t Grace and Jill get the memo?

Annoyed, but not wanting to look like bad sports, Grace and Jill decided to share a main dish and a salad while the rest of the table indulged on multiple shared plates and several of bottles of wine.  And even though they split a meal – and only paid for what they ordered - Grace and Jill still ended up spending more than they had bargained for…

Were Grace and Jill wrong to make a stink about going to an expensive restaurant?  If money was such an issue, should they have opted out of dinner all together, and just met the group out for a drink later in the evening?  Or, were the other ladies unfair to assume that everyone was on board to splurge on a decadent night out? 

What would you have done? Tell us what you think!

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4 Responses to “The Dining Divide”

  1. Dana S. says:

    Just had similar situation where I was told to figure out bill for 5 women and seeing that I had water and a salad, my portion was $10.00 less than everyone else. That could have been the dessert or wine I choose not to have just to keep up with the group. So I figured it out for myself and everyone else and it took 20 minutes and a lot of complaints and it ruined my night. These are friends I have known for 20 years and we are trying to get together more often. I am the one with the most expendable money also but seeing it in black and white on the bill just irked me. Had someone just said “everyone throw in this amount of money” would have made the evening much better, but something got inside of me after looking at this bill. I went home and went online and spent some time reading about this type of situation. I think in the future I will ask for a separate check as I do not drink and don’t order dessert nor do I want to order the extra appetizer or more expensive entree. The only problem about having separate checks I was told is that when someone changes their mind or are very fickle it really can make the waitperson have a difficult time and the service might be off. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say. In this particular situation, it appears that got a separate check and so splitting an entree and appetizer should not make it much more expensive than other establishments if these girls were not consuming alcohol.

  2. Molly says:

    If Dana and Jill got the memo that everyone was going to a pricey place, then they should have opted not to go, or do what they did – which is not share dishes, and pay only for what they ordered. They shouldn’t be upset about the place chosen. They were told ahead of time and the time to persuade for another place is before the evening of the get together.

    I have friends on tight budgets who keep track of their order and throw in the right amount. That’s fine. What irks me is when people forget about tax (almost 9% where I am) and a tip (20%, esp for a group is normal). So if they order a $20 dish and then put down $20. rather than $26. then they’re a cheapskate looking to have others cover the money they left out and that’s rude.

    Often restaurants won’t make separate checks for a group of six, or if they don’t, won’t take credit cards, so when I dine w/ a group, I always bring enough cash to cover my portion if I feel I’m going to only want to pay my share.

    For the most part, I’m the type that just splits the bill evenly because I go out w/ a lot of the same friends over and over. So, maybe this week I “over pay” by $10, then next week, someone else does. It doesn’t matter. However If I’ve ordered one glass of wine, and one main course, while my dining partner(s) have had 2-3 drinks, an appetizer, a main course, and then a coffee, I don’t feel like I should essentially pay for half their dinner, and so I figure out my share – w/ tax and tip – and pay that amount.

    Here’s a situation that happened to my husband last year…
    Some of his business friends were in from out of town. Most of these people have a lot of money, while my husband and I have had some bad economic times. He went out to dinner with two married couples and then he and another women were “singles”. (I was out of town, and her husband was ill). All these guys are heavy drinkers – the 2-3 martini types and then wine w/ dinner. My husband had one glass of wine. When the bill came, the two other men say to my husband that the guys should split it – ie, as if my husband and the other woman were a couple. The other woman didn’t volunteer a dime, and not only was my husband stuck for all their drinks and desserts, he was stuck paying for the other woman… the tune of $150.00 MORE than his bill would have been alone! I was furious that he allowed that to happen, as that $150 could have been a nice dinner out for us.
    Additionally, these guys put it on their expense accounts. My husband doesn’t have one, and it comes out of our pockets.
    When they came back to town 6 months ago, we opted to dine only with the one couple we’re friendly with and didn’t join in the group dinner the other night.

  3. Kelli M. says:

    I say grow a pair. And I say this with all due respect and from a former passive payer’s perspective. It is highly likely that NONE of your fellow diners are going to be there, blank check and pen in hand, when it’s time to pay your other life expenses. Tell them it’s out of your budget and either pass altogether or let them know that you’re going to only pay for what you order plus tax and tip based on your total. If they balk, they aren’t your friends. If these people are business associates, they need to give you a raise or give the company more business so it can give you a raise. No, seriously. This is YOUR life. Do not live it according to what others think.

  4. Sheila Kaur says:

    Having a fabulous posh time is always more financially rewarding when done as a pair or group of friends. Adds ideal variety for the ideal lifestyle.
    If its special occasion, order the main dishes, share a couple of side dishes, drink posh wine. If its a regular treat, look out for fab discounts seasons, wines or champagnes or special deals on desserts. Remember, go in at least, twos.

Any Thoughts?