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When you’re part of a large group of hungry people there are a number of frustrations that often arise. It’s usually pretty reliable math that more people in a group equals an increased difficulty of getting anything done. And, when personal dining preferences and peculiar dislikes for certain foods enter the mix, getting everything to go smoothly can quickly become a lost cause. Here are 7 reasons why eating in a large group usually sucks.

1) Most Groups are Indecisive

The first problem you’ll usually face is that once the group hits a tipping point of more than 6 people, everybody starts to put their own preferences aside for the sake of politeness. The result is a bunch of people standing around making suggestions prefaced with “I guess we could…” and “Maybe we can…” instead of putting forth strong opinions and forcing a decision. So, if you’re planning on dining out with a large group and you haven’t already decided on the restaurant, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be about 45 minutes before you come to some sort of agreement on where to go.

Trust me, this is totally scientific.

2) Getting Seated Can Be a Pain in the Ass

Once you’ve finally selected a restaurant, you’re still at the mercy of the large table crapshoot and pretty much just crossing your fingers that you’ll be seated in a reasonable amount of time. No one can really expect a restaurant to be able to accommodate a group of 8 or more at the drop of a hat, so waiting patiently or going somewhere else are about the only options you have. And, if you decide to go somewhere else, then you can plan on spending another half hour back at square one.

3) Some People are Way Too Picky

Almost every large group has at least one person with some sort of bizarre restrictive diet. Sometimes it’s a self imposed quirk like not eating anything that comes from the ground, and other times it’s a food allergy that has everyone at the table a bit on edge–constantly wondering whether there’s a chance the chicken rubbed up against some fish and Mark’s death is going to be on everyone’s conscience. This can also be one of the major roadblocks to selecting a restaurant in the first place, leading to conversations like the following:

You: “Maybe we can get Chinese.”
Frank: “I don’t like Chinese food.”
You: “What about Greek?”
Frank: “I’ve never had Greek, but I don’t think I’ll like it.”
You: “How about Red Robin?”
Frank: “Yes!”

4) The Conversation Radius is Limited

One of the seemingly trivial annoyances of group dining can actually be a major cause of awkwardness, as it becomes nearly impossible to maintain one conversation across a large table. So, splinter conversations begin to take place and you’re stuck in a constant battle between which conversation you’d rather be a part of. On the one hand, someone is making eye contact with you and talking about their recent divorce, but on the other hand it sounds like the other end of the table is discussing why the entire “Oceanic 6” needs to go back to the island. Decisions, decisions.

5) Family-Style is a Lost Cause

All of the aforementioned difficulties of group dining are amplified ten-fold as soon as your actual entree becomes subject to the will of the group. Now all of a sudden you’re stuck with the most watered down, vanilla options on the menu for the sake of pleasing the picky eaters in the bunch. You can bank on the fact that your family-style Italian dinner is going to include spaghetti and meatballs along with chicken parmesan, instead of the calamari and risotto you were lobbying for.

Wow. What a unique thing to order.

6) Your Dessert is at the Mercy of the Group

When you’re with a smaller group it’s not as painful to be the outcast. But, this is another scenario where you need to sit back and assess the situation rather than just thinking about yourself. The server comes over and asks, “Would anyone care for dessert?” And before you have a chance to mention you’ve been fantasizing about that chocolate lava cake since you sat down, one of your asshole friends says, “No, I think we’re ready for the check.” You frantically look around the table expecting everyone else to protest and realize you’re all alone on this one. Not only have your friends betrayed you, but you’re cakeless to boot.

7) Someone Gets Screwed with the Bill

Probably the biggest reason eating out with a large group is a pain in the ass would be splitting up the bill. There are two possible things that could happen once the check arrives at the table. One option is that someone benevolently offers to pick up the tab for the entire table, but this becomes increasingly rare as the number of people in the group goes up. The second option is the much more likely, and what happens here is everyone starts going into “group dining math” mode, making bizarre calculations like, “My meal was $18.95, I had a glass of wine, so that’s another $5, and with tax and tip, here’s $25.” Then the person throws money in the middle and disappears. Leaving the one or two people who noticed the automatic 18% gratuity (conveniently added to groups of 6 or more) stuck picking up the slack.

It’s an ugly business eating in a large group, and arguably not worth the effort. Groups of no more than 6 are the way to go, but if you absolutely must eat in a large group, be sure you throw your $25 in the middle right away and hit the road before anyone knows what hit ’em. This will give you ample time to stop and grab a piece of cake on the way home.

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