For almost seven years, I worked as a waiter in restaurants ranging from Olive Garden to high-end French and Italian restaurants in the Chicago suburbs. I used to own a food takeaway service with a variety of specialty foods.
I’ve had a lot of split plate requests over the years while working at seven different restaurants.
These are the reasons, in my opinion, why restaurants charge for split plates:
- Each seat represents potential revenue: by dividing an entree, the restaurant loses a meal sold and incurs an opportunity cost. Splitting dishes won’t keep them in business; it’s probably the most difficult business to run and manage expenses.
- Costs of Using and Cleaning Dishes, Napkins, and Water Glasses: There are still costs involved with using and cleaning dishes, napkins, and water glasses.
- Split plate costs are used as a deterrent to sharing and to encourage people to buy a meal.
- Restaurants are businesses as well: the compensation for the restaurant and the service is little.
- Dividing a plate in half adds more effort to the kitchen, especially during a busy lunch or weekend. The chefs take great care to ensure that the servings are similar and that the dishes look the same when divided in half.
Consumers should almost certainly tip toward the higher end of the scale. Even though the customer only ordered one dish, the waitress will treat the table and its guests as if they were two. The second visitor, for example, will most certainly require an extra napkin and cutlery, as well as a refill of their drink, more bread, and possibly additional condiments from the kitchen.
A visitor once brought in her own frozen supper from the supermarket. She requested that I reheat it and prepare it for her because she was on a strict diet. Restaurant owners believe that if you choose to dine in their establishment, you should eat their food and drink their wine.
Split charges aren’t universal, although they’re very prevalent. The $2-$3 split charge should not deter most diners if the restaurant delivers on service, food, experience, and value.
Restaurant Corkage Fee
Most restaurants charge a wine corkage cost in the same way that they charge a split plate fee. Many servers and owners interpret it as an attempt to save money by not allowing the restaurant to profit from the sale of wine. Restaurant corkage fees are unlawful in some states.
Bringing your own alcohol into a restaurant is illegal in some states, including:
- New Mexico
Please tell us if you agree or disagree with restaurants charging for shared plates. What about corking expenses for wine?