Paying the bill for someone else, particularly a friend, at a restaurant, cafe, etc. is quite common in Turkish culture. People of eastern Turkey may get too pushy when wanting to foot the tab for their guests. A restaurant in Kızıltepe town of Mardin province had one too many patrons insisting on paying the bill for others before it ordered an outright ban on the practice. The restaurant's owner Murat Bozdağ furnished the place with signs warning patrons not to pay for others and "do not insist." Bozdağ aims to put an end to familiar scenes of customers almost having a brawl on who will pay the bill. "There was a guy who simply wanted to drink a glass of tea. Then, he saw friends dining here and joined them. In the end, it was he who paid the TL 600 bill," Bozdağ says about one of the things that motivated him to put up signs for the good of his customers. Customers are surprised when they see signs but they understand as it can sometimes be a burden for those with little cash to observe the custom of paying others' bills.
Kızıltepe is a small town where many residents know each other, so, it is highly likely that you will run into some friend at any eatery. "Everyone wants to foot the tab for other party and sometimes, there are even lines in front of the counter as people argue with each other on who will pay," a frustrated Bozdağ explains. For a region where traditions related to generosity is deeply entrenched and any violation of this unspoken code is frowned upon, paying for others can spell trouble, especially for the poor. "Our clients now can come here without having to think they have to pay for others out of their own pocket. It also saves them from the trouble of having to feel ashamed when someone else pays their bill," Bozdağ added. The ban mostly works though he cites occasional arguments between insistent patrons.
Fırat Oktay, a customer, says people of Mardin are known for their generosity and he himself was raised by his family with this strict code of generosity. "It is an honor to foot the tab," Oktay says, criticizing the ban. Nezir Yiğit, a guest from the nearby city of Gaziantep, says it was impossible to end this custom no matter what ban you impose. "You cannot restrict the freedom of a person to pay the bill of his friends," Kenan Türk, another customer, said.