Why is it that many diners in city expect patrons to pay for the check at the cashier, rather than dealing with the waiter/waitress? So you get the check from the cashier, then walk over to the cashier and pay; then you have to return to the table to leave a tip. Any light you can shed on this tradition?
According to the staff of a local greasy spoon in Ask Gothamist's neighborhood, having one person man the register is a lot more efficient than having three or four members of the waitstaff come up to the front each time they need to make a transaction.
Also, since most typical New York City diners are small, sometimes with fewer than 20 tables, paying at the front shaves off some of the time that patrons might linger at their tables waiting for change. The quicker turn-around means more business per table, which is especially good for diners on the busy weekend mornings which can account for a majority of their profits.
Ask Gothamist can't help but theorize that it also protects the diner against theft. If customers left money on tables, there would be a greater risk of theft if they didn't ask people to pay at the front.