Business Dining Etiquette Tips and Table Manners Advice Q & A

Q. Who is supposed to pay the bill at a restaurant? The host or guest?

Dear Terry, I was invited out for a business lunch the other day. We had a nice meal but when the bill arrived, the person who invited me made no move to pick it up. It sat there so long that I ended up paying it. I thought the person who invites you is supposed to pay the check?

– Sally Stukwitbil

A – Dear Sally

Dining Etiquette - tip advice - Who pays restaurant bill - photo of check

You’re right, the correct dining etiquette is that the person who issues the invitation, as host pays for the meal (or check as it’s known by Americans). Unfortunately, not everyone seems to know this simple table manners rule.

Benefit of the doubt

In our business dining etiquette classes Dining for Fun & Profit, we advise making it clear in your invitation that they will be your guest. “Why don’t we get together? I’d like to take you for lunch.” Let’s give your “host” the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just forgot. Here’s my advice so you don’t get stuck with the bill again.

Subtle dining etiquette tip 

Next time it happens try this; if they don’t reach for the bill, you say “Why don’t we split this?” A nice, polite Canadian style, gentle reminder and no feelings are hurt. Then either your host will come to their senses and remember to pay the bill or at worst you will only have to pay half. This is a little classier than the old “Oops, I left my wallet at home” ploy.

If they still don’t get the hint you could casually bring up an interesting website they should visit to view our easy to swallow Dining For Success online video training.

Or come to an upcoming Complete Professional public seminar Oct. 25 in Edmonton where we cover business dining over lunch.

Posted by Terry Pithers – Canadian Business Dining Etiquette Expert and non-bill-welcher

About the author 

Terry Pithers

Canadian speaker, humorist and business etiquette expert. If you are interested in booking me for a presentation, keynote or workshop, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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