Readers: Split on the issue of charging for split plates

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Laura Shunk just served up the "five things that should always be free at a restaurant," including the glass of water she requested after ordering a round of drinks. And while some readers added a few she'd missed -- chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant, tea at a Chinese restaurant -- most were in agreement with her list.

Except on the issue of the dreaded split plate.

Here's the view of Keithr0jas:

The biggest asset for a restaurant is an occupied seat. A split plate cuts the value of that occupied seat in half. So if the operator takes a 50% loss, I think it fair to add a 25% charge to meet the loss half way. Plus I've worked at places that increase the portions on split plates, in sake of a decent presentation.

That inspired this from Bagwhan:

I disagree, the biggest asset for a restaurant is customers, customers ordering food. So what if we split our order, we're still ordering drinks and other stuff Would you rather have us be "customers", ie people who enjoy your establishment and return, or just have us order once and never return.

The split plate charge always bugs me, and is proven silly when you go to other restaurants that do it happily and successfully.

Where do you stand on split plates? And what's really a restaurant's biggest asset?

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