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Happy Birthday Too You....While Dining

There is little I hate more when dining than an eruption of waiters singing Happy Birthday...it irritates me to no end. I assumed this was something found in ice cream parlors, chains and lower end restaurants. But lately I've noticed this trend in fine dining establishments.

Why is this necessary and what adult would ever want this???
Does this bother anyone else as much as it does me??

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  1. it makes me cringe. even worse, on the rare occasion that i'm dining out with my folks and the restaurant does it for someone, my father always feels compelled to join in. ugh.

    when i was a kid that was the big thing at Bennigan's - the restaurant employees would form a line and dance throughout the restaurant, singing their version of a Happy Birthday song and banging on makeshift instruments & tambourines. it was *appalling* and the one time my friends made me the target of that horrific display in junior high, i tried to crawl under the table to hide.

    my family & friends now know that if they pull that on me, i'll get up & walk away from the table.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I truly wish I had walked away when this last happened to me.

      My best friend did this to me at a restaurant at which we're regulars about 4 years ago....and this was done years after we had agreed NOT to arrange for something like this for each other! The restaurant's staff always does this for birthdays and marriages (they hate it as well), and they had known for several years that I didn't want any fuss made....regardless, my friend convinced them to do it - despite my asking the staff that evening that they were NOT to do anything.

      Some of her family was with us as well, and really - only one of them knew I was angry (the one who wasn't drinking). The rest of them (and my friend) were too drunk to realize it. We weren't at our seats at the bar where we usually sit - we were at a table in the back - so there was nowhere to run. Afterwards, the staff *knew* I was royally pissed. Some of the staff apologized on my way out; but I didn't go back there for about 5-6 weeks - they thought I had forsaken them forever they realized I was *that* ticked off. And they've promised to never, ever, EVER do it to me again, no matter what anyone says. They've kept that promise the last couple of years. Now, the various waitstaff just come up and give me a hug and quietly give me birthday greetings. That, I can deal with. :-)

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Being a regular has its advantages, eh? At least you got your point across by “forsaking” them for a month or so. Most customers are anonymous to the staff and the impact of that happy birthday crap doesn’t faze them a bit.

        I have been adamant about this with my friends and it hasn’t happened to me yet, and I hope it never will.

    2. (Gnashing teeth...) Grr!! I abhor this!! When I owned my resto., the waiters were NOT allowed to do this, even if asked by a guest. We'd do the candle thing, and usually comp the treat as well, but NO SINGING EVER!! (unless, it was to ambush one of our employees and embarrass the bejesus out of them ;) ) adam

      1. I would be mortified if it happened to me, but it doesn't bother me at another table. Though I've only seen it at burger-type joints; I might feel different if I witnessed it in a fine dining setting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

          Don't let it happen to you at Hooter's.
          They make the poor sap stand on a chair while the waitresses are dancing around him singing.

        2. If you pay attention in some restaurants they don't sing "Happy Birthday" because it's a copyrighted song. So they may sing some other type of birthday song. This Chinese restaurant I go to plays a tape of some birthday song because the help doesn't speak English.

          I notice at a higher end places they don't do it, just bring a dessert with a candle. I notice though on cruise ships everynight there's someone celebrating a birthday and the waiters are singing Happy Birthday.....everynight !!!

          I'm one of those that pre-warns my family I don't want that kind of fanfare at any cost.

          6 Replies
          1. re: monku

            I'v always wondered if there's some devious "happy birthday copyright police" that rushes in (ala the Spanish Inquitision sketch by Monty Python) if this gets sung by Applebees or Outback or whatever! I mean, WHO would know/care about it being sung by a place?(Hey, I get it, if it's used in TV/film/radio, somebody's gotta get paid)

            I had it happen to me only ONCE, and I think it was done by my beloved family, to watch me squirm and literally HIDE under the table! When you are 14, in San Diego and eating at an Old Town Mexican resto on the actual day- AND there's a 5-piece maraichi band to boot? It was just too much for them to pass up.

            UGGGHH..Just mortifying!

            1. re: Honeychan

              Funny as it may sound but there's ASCAP and BMI out there and you open a restaurant and they're there the day you open to check if you've got a sound system of any kind playing music and make sure you have a license.

              1. re: Honeychan

                I'm sorry but your embarrassment is not complete until you are at a Mexican restaurant celebrating your birthday with the servers singing with the mariachi band AND a sombrero with "Happy Birthday" painted on the brim stuck on your head. It happened to me......trust me the embarrassment is not complete until there are pictures involved.

                  1. re: FoodChic

                    Trust me, I'm way ahead of you!

                  2. re: lizzy

                    Oh, the sombrero coulden't POSSIBLY get on my head, as I was under the table in2 seconds flat!! They were very miffed that I ducked out of it's way! *LOL* At least I don't have pics of my avoiding that lunch in -any- way, shape or form. My own crystal-clear memory will have to suffice.

              2. The only place where I don't mind it is at hooters.