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Restaurant - Part 4 - Paying the Bill

Restaurant - Part 4 - Paying the Bill

 

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Restaurant - 4 - Paying the Bill


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn the English and customs associated with paying the bill for a meal in a restaurant. In other lessons, we have learned the English and customs associated with arrival, seating, and ordering in a restaurant. We have also learned the customs and English associated with asking for additional service in a restaurant.

Basically, there are two possible places to pay in a restaurant and there are three payment methods.

The two possible places are either at the table after your meal or at the cash register.

The three ways to pay are with money or a check, with credit, or signing for the meal in a hotel restaurant or place where you are well-known and have made pre-arrangements for paying.

We will concentrate on paying with cash or with a credit card.
The system for paying is different in each restaurant, but you will catch on to the custom easily.

After the meal, the server will bring a bill. If the server brings the bill in a leather or plastic folder, you are supposed to pay at the table by putting your credit card or money into the folder and placing it conspicuously on the table for the waiter to pick up.

If the server brings only a bill on paper, you are supposed to take the bill to the cash register and pay it there.

Method of Payment

It is always acceptable to pay your bill in cash. Either on the door of the restaurant or inside the restaurant near the cash register, there are logos of the credit cards which are accepted for payment of the restaurant bill.

There is also usually a sign regarding personal checks. Sometimes the sign might say "No personal checks allowed" or "Local checks only".

It is generally smarter to assume to checks will not be allowed as a form of payment if the manager of the restaurant has not okayed it beforehand.

Tipping
Except in fast-food, self-serve restaurants, where no tip is expected, it is considered normal to leave 15-25% of the total bill as a tip or gratuity for the serving staff.

In the U.S., servers are taxed for 15% of the price of the food they serve. If they allowed to keep their tips, they are not paid even minimum wage by the restaurants where they work, with the assumption that tips will be paid to them.

Customers who do not tip at least 15% are considered rude, and the servers wonder what they have done to cause the customer to be unhappy.

In a fine restaurant, the server is expected to tip the other staff members who assisted with your meal – the busboys, the people who poured your drinks, the people who helped bring the meal. So it is appropriate to tip more if several people assisted with your meal or if you stayed at your table for long time. Staying at your table for a long time deprives the server of a job and tips during the next rotation of guests at that table.

In a family restaurant, the tip can be left on the table or paid at the cash register with the bill. If you pay with a credit card, there is a space at the bottom of the paper bill for" Tip/Gratuity" where you should add the amount you are giving.

The staff might ask you to "Total the bill", which means that you should add the tip you want to give so they can total the bill.

In this scenario, Jennifer and David have just finished a nice meal in a good restaurant. The server has brought the bill in a folder, and David is going to pay.


Jennifer: Are you paying cash or using a credit card?

David: Cash. It's $70, I'll put in eighty-five. (places folder on table)

Server: Is this ready to go, sir?

David: Yes, it is.

Server: Will you be needing change, sir?

David: No, thank you.

Server: You're welcome, folks. Thank you for coming in today.

In this scenario, Jennifer asks David, "Are you paying cash or using a credit card?". If Jennifer and David were paying at the cash register, the clerk might ask the same question. In that case, the clerk might say "Cash or charge?" or ""Cash or credit?"

If they were paying with a credit card, there might be a machine where they could swipe their card, or they might hand the card to the clerk to be swiped.

David says "Cash. It's $70 so I'll put in eighty-five." David might have told Jennifer "The bill is $70, and I'll include a $15 tip." or "The meal was $70 so I'll add $15 as a tip.". David and Jennifer are married, so it is normal for them to discuss the price of the meal and the tip. If they were entertaining other people, Jennifer and David would not tell them either the price or the amount of the tip.

The server asks "Is this ready to go, sir?". The server wants to know if the money is inside the folder already. If David had not already put the money inside the folder, he might answer "No, please wait a few minutes." or "No, not yet.". David had already put money inside the folder, so he says "Yes, it is.".

The server then asks "Will you be needing change?". The server is asking whether David and Jennifer want him to come back to the table with change, or whether they have left the correct amount in the folder.

He is also implicitly asking if all the change in the folder is intended to be his tip. David or Jennifer might answer "No, that's fine." which means that David and Jennifer do not expect any change and that the change belongs to the waiter. Or they might answer "Yes, please." which means that they want the server to bring back the change.

If the server brings back the change, David and Jennifer will be expected to put a tip into the folder to leave for the server. If they had left a credit card, they should wait at the table for the server to bring back the card and the bill, where they will be expected to add a tip on the line which says "Tip/Gratuity" and total the bill or leave it for the server to total.

The server thanks David and Jennifer and thanks them for visiting the restaurant. He calls them "folks", which is a colloquial term for nice people. If Jennifer had gone to the restaurant with a group of women, the server might have called them "Ladies".

If David had gone to the restaurant with a group of men, the server might have called them "Gentlemen", but there is no modern term in English which refers to one man and one woman. Sometimes servers might call one man and one woman "the two of you" or "you two" or "both of you". Servers might refer to a mixed group of men and women as "folks" or "ladies and gentlemen".

When David and Jennifer go to the cash register to pay or as they get ready to go, a manager may stop by their table to ask them "Was everything all right?" or "Was everything to your satisfaction today?".

If David and Jennifer liked the meal and were happy with the service, they should say something complimentary like "Yes, the food was delicious." or "It was good, and we had a nice server.".

If it was not satisfactory, this is the time for them to state the reason for their unhappiness. They might say "The food did not taste fresh." or "The service was not very good.". They might say "The food was fine, but it seemed very warm in the restaurant.".

Wonderful! Now you have learned the English and customs associated with paying a restaurant bill. Enjoy your meal, and "Thank you for visiting us today."