DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am baffled as to why, when dining out with a friend or a group, it is often conveyed as bad manners to ask for separate checks. If I were to draw an analogy: When I go shopping with two friends, the cashier never asks if we want separate receipts. It is understood that each person will pay for their own items and will have their own receipt.
Why are the expectations different in restaurants? When we eat out, no matter who we are with or the size of the party, I always ask up front if we can please have separate checks. I say it quickly, before orders are taken, and always with a smile. I can only remember a time or two in the last decade when the staff didn’t happily comply.
GENTLE READER: You are not the only person who is baffled. A restaurant may choose not to allow this, but that is purely for its own convenience. Miss Manners hopes that no such objections are coming from your fellow diners, because there is nothing rude about this.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)