A visit to a restaurant or a cafe is no longer a unique or special occasion, unlike a visit to the opera, for example. People hold business negotiations, dine, celebrate birthdays, or just meet friends there. Restaurants have become a regular part of our life, but some features of their work still remain a mystery to us.

At Enlighten, we decided to find answers to some of the “why” questions that restaurant guests usually ask.

Why don’t waiters like separate bills?


When a group of people finishes dinner at a restaurant and it’s time to pay, it turns out that everyone wants to pay their bill separately. At this moment, a range of conflicting emotions can be seen on the waiter’s face. This wouldn’t have happened if the guests had warned the waiter in advance that they would need separate bills. Because now the waiter will have to recall the order of each guest, to form pre-checks in the program, and to make several transactions instead of one. It takes a lot of time and increases the chances of them making an error.

  • Some computer systems make it nearly impossible to create separate bills. With those systems, it usually involves creating a new ticket and transferring individual items to it. For us, making 2 or 3 separate bills is doable, but something like 8 separate bills could take up to 15 minutes, tying up that server and every other server needing to use that computer. If you do want separate checks, it’s always good to let the server know before they take your order. Hufflepuft / Reddit

Why are plates so big, and portions so small?


There are several reasons why restaurants tend to use big plates. Food on these plates looks like it won’t satisfy you, so you’ll be tempted to order more food. Besides, small portions on huge plates let the guests know that they are eating refined food.

Why do they serve free bread in a restaurant?

LAWJR / pixabay

If you receive free bread and butter before ordering, this is by no means a broad gesture, but rather a pragmatic calculation. In fact, restaurants are much more interested in regular customers, than in one-time visitors, even with a bigger bill amount. Free bread demonstrates care and hospitality that increases guests’ loyalty. Besides, with some cuisines, bread is an integral part of the serving, for example in French cuisine where it is used to dip into sauces on the plate. Finally, bread gives the staff some extra time.

  • The bread contains carbs, which trigger the blood insulin levels higher. The job of insulin is to make you feel hungry, and you are more likely to actually order more food to eat. Rohit Malshe / Quora

Why is it so expensive?!

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York / Twentieth Century Fox

The pricing policy of restaurants is often criticized. But the price of a dish should be at least 3 times higher than the cost of the food. The remaining 2/3, in theory, go to wages, taxes, rent, depreciation costs, and, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll still have net profit. Or not.

Why is it not allowed to serve 1 portion on 2 plates?

Chef / Aldamisa Entertainment

When guests ask to put one portion on 2 plates, you can hear the chefs cry somewhere in the kitchen. And it’s not about the fact that it brings the restaurant less money, although, of course, this factor also plays a certain role. The problem is that this order, especially if there are many guests in the dining area, destabilizes the work of the kitchen, leading to additional operations with scales, appliances, and checks. Besides, half of the portion on the plate looks unpresentable, so a chef has to add a side dish or salad, or something else. Therefore, many restaurants charge additional fees for these orders.

  • When I was a waiter, my restaurant had a split charge. We made the guest pay an extra $5 to split a $15 salad. The chefs prepared it as 2 individual salads, so it kind of made sense. Mr_Bear99 / Reddit

Why is a business lunch cheaper than the same dishes separately?


There is a common belief that business lunches are made of ingredients that would otherwise go into the trash bin. This way, a restaurant tries to make at least something out of them. Fortunately, this is not the case. The low price can be easily explained. Bootstrapping has become more and more common among businesses and people arranging the lunches search for as cheap a deal that they can find.

Why do they stop taking orders before closing time?