Would a Restaurant Really Make You Wash Dishes If You Can't Pay the Bill?

Imagine the embarrassment…….You’re out with friends at a fancy restaurant, the food was delicious, the service superb, but when you hand your credit card to the server to pay the (pricey) bill, it’s declined. You have zero cash, so now what? In the old days, you might have been forced to work off your debt in the kitchen by washing dishes or dragging trash to the dumpster, but what would happen today? In most modern kitchens, an untrained worker is more of a liability than a help. Hospitality professionals say they make sure the person who can’t pay feels like it’s okay, and that they will work with them to make the situation go away. In 99% of cases, someone else at the table will step up and cover the bill. However, in extreme cases, where the person is alone or no one else can or will help out, there are other things that can be done. If the meal is cheap enough, restaurants will simply comp the meal. The management team is more concerned about saving face and doing the right thing that going after the money. If, however, the diner has consumed a porterhouse steak, washing it down with a top-shelf bourbon, the conversation can change. In most cases, they send the embarrassed diner off with a friendly “IOU” and the expectation that they will settle up ASAP. Calling the police for an unpaid check is the “nuclear option” and should be avoided at nearly all cost.