Splitting a check at the end of dinner is a very common occurrence in New York, but should it be? You want to make sure that you're sticking to common customs when living in a foreign country and this is an important one to get right for both the people you're dining with and the restaurant and its staff.
People will do [split checks] for you, but it is a GIANT pain for the staff (and takes up valuable time/energy) and is frowned upon. It also leads to people shorting the staff, generally, on tips. If you must do it – please, no more than 3 cards per check – and always split a check three ways – not the “14.00 on this one, $22 on this one…”
I will fully admit that a lot of the content on this site is straight from my own experience and from making many new friends along the way. Nothing on this website is perfect, so I'm always striving to find out what I could be doing better and any advice that might be a little off, so thank you so much, Kari J (the original post has been updated)!
One thing that we can take from Kari's comment which I completely agree with is that if you are splitting, it should be even across all the checks; and The Gothamist agrees.
The Gothamist article also agrees with Kari in her recommendation to “bring cash” as this is always going to carry favor with your servers as they can take your tip straight home with them (and they're not subject to tax).
So with Kari, a “NYC native (married to an Aussie, and splitting time between both countries!) and hospo lifer” and many other supporting articles, it certainly looks well founded.
The most important thing to remember when dining out
When dining in groups in general (again, especially in NYC) please be kind and polite. People work hard and they work fast, and with a little bit of co-operation from you, you can ALL have a great night out.
So I'd love to know your experience. Have you come across the same? Do you agree?
P.S. One thing to note is that while this is definitely the case in New York City, my personal experience in Atlanta, Georgia, for example, was very different and staff insisted on bringing separate and itemized checks for every member of the group (even when we insisted they don't). While this is definitely only a personal anecdote, it was interesting seeing the difference in the status quo from state to state!