restaurants should do the math for you // 03 Oct 2008

So I can't believe I haven't blogged about this before, because every time I'm out with a group of friends for lunch or dinner I'm reminded of this idea...and then proceed to bore my dining companions with it. But here it is.

Problem: Deciding how much everyone owes for a group meal -- especially when there's a gratuity calculation is involved -- is hard. Well, not "eliminating our dependence on foreign oil with nucular energy" hard, but you know, hard in the way that "math" is hard....especially when said mathemeticians have had a few.

Solution: Restaurant checks should do the math for you, in a simple and straightforward way.

Imagine a restaurant check that looked like this:

Subtotal:         $210.00

Tip:          ___________

Total:        ___________

A 20% tip would be $42, for a total
of $252.  I counted 4 people in your
party, which would come to $63 per 


Look, simple math! Isn't this what the future's supposed to be, fancy calculating machines doing the hard work for us? (And I'm not talking about that tip calculator iPhone app you paid $0.99 for.)

Two more things to note...

  • There's no need to get too clever, and attempt to provide an exact accounting per diner based on what they order. This is already clever enough.
  • There's potential upside for restaurants and their staff. Take the example above, where the tab with a 20% tip comes to $63 per person. Which means that some will inevitably just round that up to the bills they have on hand. If all four diners here leave $65 instead of $63, that's an extra $8 in gratuity, raising the tip from 20% to almost 24%).

OK then, got that idea out of my head. Now when I'm out with folks I can annoy them not only with the story, but also with the tagline "And oh! I blogged about this...didn't you read that post?"