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Are you a server’s worst nightmare without even knowing it? We’re here to help. The Salty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.

Dear Salty,

My wife and I for years have attempted a little portion control when it comes to our meals and usually split something when we dine out. It really isn’t a money thing, as we’re just as likely to share something at Chez Quis as a local diner. Unless the menu has a split plate charge, we usually just order the meal and ask for an extra plate. We even tip a little extra since you may not be bringing us two meals, but you’re still serving two people. Most servers don’t seem to have a problem with this, but we’ve definitely noticed an eye roll a time or two. What are your thoughts on food sharing customers?

Thanks for your time,
Perfect Portions

Dear Perfect Portions,

I commend you for trying to eat in moderate portions—I ordered ribs at a barbecue chain the other day and I think they came from a wildebeest. Ordering only the amount of food you need also helps reduce food waste. I can’t tell you how bummed it makes me to scrape half a medium-rare filet mignon into the garbage, really.

That aside: Splitting dishes, especially entrées, is mildly tacky in my book. Especially if you have the money to cover two entrees, there are other ways to go about sensible portioning. I wouldn’t roll my eyes at a customer—well, not over splitting dishes, anyway—but I can see why other servers are less than thrilled by your order. I have a calculation that I do for each table, which helps me figure out about how much money I’m going to take home at the end of the shift. If you suddenly cut that equation in half, it’s a kick in the heinie.

Here are some potential solutions.

Solution one: Order two entrées and take home leftovers. I never understood some people’s aversion to doggie bags. Who doesn’t want a free next-day lunch that they don’t have to cook?


Solution two: Order two appetizers as your entrées. This is still not ideal, but at least in my book you’re ordering two $12 plates instead of one $18 plate.

Solution three: Go out to eat less frequently, but indulge a bit more. Again, not ideal, but if you’re treating a meal out like a special occasion, maybe you could fudge on the diet a little bit. (I always fudge my diets with actual fudge, by the way.)

Solution four: Tip as you would if you’d ordered two entrees. I still have to serve and clear two plates from your table, so tipping on a full two-person would help me out.


At the end of the day, cupcake, it’s a free country, and of course you’re paying for your (single) meal, so you’re welcome to behave however you’d like. More restaurants should institute the split-plate charge, I say.

Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or are you a server/bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Email us: