My Experience of Restaurants in Europe, Check Please!

If you follow me on any of my social platforms you would have seen not too long ago I took a trip over to Europe for a little family time and research intermixed.

I visited some of the best hotels and restaurants, Italy and Croatia had to offer. I had a goal in mind when making these visits,  and that was to observe the customer interaction of those around myself and my family. Then document our experiences.

While Europeans are warm and inviting, they don’t like tourists (or they don’t have any customer experience training). I must admit that I am generalizing right now. However, the majority of my experiences speak to the fact that the servers at restaurants either lost their smile on their way to work or forgot how to smile all together!

Other than the lack of smiles being a trend that I saw and experienced for myself, there was another trend that (at home) I hadn’t paid much attention to; who is given the check at the end of the meal when a male and female are dining together?

Let me explain this further.

The first few restaurants we visited, I noticed that our server would give my husband the check. He then passed it to me, and I then paid for it. But, I was not putting any thought into it.

Until, one evening our family was walking down the picturesque alleyways of Venice searching for the right restaurant that would serve the best pizza, carbonara, and rose with an outside table for people watching.

My kids hopped from restaurant to restaurant yelling “this one?!” of course one of them would disagree, and onto the next, we would go. Finally, we landed in a restaurant that suited everyone’s particularities, and we sat down. Our menus were passed out in the typical old fashioned ‘kids and ladies first’ fashion (Ela, Riley, Noah, me, then Marcel).

Our order was taken in the same way; the waiter was looking to Marcel for the decisions in what wine we were going to order and confirmation that the order was correct. With all the logistics out of the way, we patiently waited for our food. Let me tell you that the food was fabulous! I mean, it’s Italy! How could it be anything but fabulous?

The service, again, was decent (still no smiles), but what came next was my ah-ha moment!

My husband and I were seated at each end of the table and the kids were between us (easier to control them this way!) As the waiter approached with the check I put my hand out, he looked at me, and continued to hand the check to my husband. At that moment, ALL check giving moments came flooding back. Without fail, every check drop has been directed at my husband. Now, I was on a mission!

I had to find out why the waiters feel they must give the check to the man at the table, assuming the woman wouldn’t be paying.

I talked my husband’s ear off the rest of the trip and at every restaurant going forward. I watched, each time, to see who the check would be dropped with. Without fail, each time, it was given to my husband. As I was on a mission, I started asked the waiter at each restaurant,

“Why do you choose to give the man the check over the woman?”

Some responses I got:

“That’s the way it is; the man should pay.”
“The man usually has the credit card.”
“I assume women don’t pay for the meal.”
“That’s the way I have been taught.”

I must say I am ALWAYS the one who pays for dinner, and I genuinely believe it is not cool for anyone to assume that just because a man and a woman are dining together that it is the man’s responsibility to pay OR that the woman is not capable of treating her dinner partner. If it were two ladies or two gents dining the waiter would ask how the check will be settled (split, Dutch, one bill?). So, why is this not done when a man and a woman are dining together?

This is another small example of the many ways that a woman’s influence gets overlooked. If she has a say in the restaurant, why wouldn’t she have the ability to pay for the meal or at least be treated like an equal?

I challenge you.

The next time you are out for dinner with the opposite sex, take notice who the check is automatically given to. If I were a betting woman, and after the experiences I have had, I would say, the man will be given that little black folder.

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