HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


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??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

                1. I hate it, to see it and Oh please NO!, have it done to me.

                  However some people dearly love it. And if I am taking, or with one who does out one the B-day, I make sure it happens. Arg! What one does in the name of friendship. :-)

                  1. When I was serving, I taught fellow servers to sing the following to the tune of "Tara Ra Boom De Ay":

                    This is your birthday song,
                    It isn't very long...

                    And all the waiters would immediately leave and return to their stations.

                    Most servers don't like making a big, long deal of someone's birthday, either; it distracts from one's duties to one's own customers and is a pain in the butt.
                    The people who insist on it are the friends and/or family of the birthday person who, unless they're a kid, would really rather not go through the ordeal. I had one person slip me a $10 bill to NOT do the birthday song and just bring him the cake with the candle.
                    Okay with me.

                    1. MY Ex=wife pulled that shiz on me once will we were married even though she new it tweaked my melon, I walked out of the restaurant and grabbed a cab. I hate that deal it is even really annoying when the table next to you does it uuuugggggghhhhhh!!!!!!! not for me ever.... Now at home with people I know awesome ,great and fun

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pikiliz

                        I had to laugh about you walking out. My family and husband's family are very well aware that I will walk out if I become the target of the public HB song. I hate it and hated it as a child.

                      2. Too much sour grapes, amici. Firstoff, the whole ASCAP BMI bit is misunderstood by pretty much everybody (including a lot of musicians)- having been an "enforcer" of this type when I ran a music publishing company, there is no copyright problem with assembled guests and staff singing HBD- it becomes illegal only when played through the restaurant's own sound system and only if a certain quorum of people are there. (Interestingly- churches/religious organizations are BY FAR the worst infringers...they somehow think that their proximity holiness exempts them from paying the publisher...always gave me wicked pleasure to catch them in the act using our music, illegal photocopies and all, and ask they compensate the starving artist).

                        Secondly(-off?)- I agree that forcing the dining room to participate makes me gag a little bit. But life is short, and people feel the need to do this even if it is not planned. Sure I feel like a mouthbreather when singing this in public- but in my opinion, it's muzak that is the true enemy. Makes my souffle taste like a lead balloon without fail. Somehow I'm hearing it even in fine dining establishments these days- soft porn soundtrack to go with my cutlet is a severe and painful violation. Makes the velouté taste like dreck, somehow. Celebrate your birthday, just don't expect me to share your joy. And help bring an end to the dining soundtrack.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SaltyRaisins

                          Interesting info. about the music rights issue.

                          I have to second you on the muzak in a dining room; for me a full dinner of bad music is a lot worse than a few seconds of happy birthday.

                          1. re: SaltyRaisins

                            I actually have to disagree with you on this a little bit. I worked in copyright law for years (for BMI), and was directly involved with licensing restaurants, clubs, etc., that play copyrighted music. The song "Happy Birthday" is not yet in the public domain, and when it is sung by staff it can be considered a "service" the restaurant is providing to its patrons.

                            Certainly, no establishment is going to get sued for singing Happy Birthday, as there are always bigger fish to fry, and despite the reputation of BMI, Ascap, etc., the licensing departments are much more reasonable than what is commonly believed. But it does remain a bit of a grey area as far as the actual copyright law goes.

                          2. OMG YES!!!! Not to mention it's the most embarrassing ever! And way to disrupt my meal!

                            It's so tacky and I hate it.

                            1. It is my birthday tomorrow and my hubby is taking me out to a new restaurant here in AK. I am absolutely keeping my lips sealed that it is my birthday though, and I know he respects me enough to keep it quiet too. I have had many establishments sing to me though and was always so embarrassed. I did sort of welcome it as a child though for the free cake. =)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: DishDelish

                                i'll just get it over with for you here instead...

                                Happy Birthday to you,
                                Happy Birthday to you,
                                Happy Birthday DishDelish,
                                Happy Birthday to you!

                                seriously though, have a happy one, and a Chow-worthy celebratory meal :)

                                1. I hate it with a vengeance - even when I'm only a spectator (except, of course, if a child is involved).

                                  Last night we were at an upscale restaurant celebrating and staying overnight at the hotel (my birthday is today). In between one of the courses, my wife had gone to the toilet and I was staring blankly into space (thinking about the next course, of course)). Server asked if we were celebrating. I mentioned the birthday and thought nothing more of it.

                                  When the dessert arrived (three courses later), the side of the plate had been inscribed "Happy birthday" in chocolate sauce. I want nothing more ostentatious than that, thanks very much. Ever!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I also got that treatment at a very fine dining establishment here. They brought a panna cotta with Happy Birthday in the most beautiful calligraphy, written in Chocolate, around thhe rim of the bowl. Perfect!

                                    When my youngest daughter graduated high school a bunch of her friends and family took her for a celebration at a casual italian place. Her older sister thought she needed to be taken down a couple notches (thought she was the bomb - oh yes she did!) so she slipped away and told them it was her birthday and they should make her stand up while they sang to her. It was a scream! Being with a bunch of drama majors made it even funnier. She turned 4 shades of red, but I think she enjoyed the attention!

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      A few years ago my parents took me to our family-favorite French resto for my birthday. My parents are semi-regulars, it's to expensive to go often, but they go enough that the owner knows them and always asks about the occasion. They mentioned it was for my birthday, the owner was wished me well and showed us to our table. We enjoyed the meal without further mention of the birthday, which was fine with me. The owner stopped by during dessert to ask how the meal was, he looked a bit concerned after seeing my dessert plate. He returned a few minutes later with a single macaroon on a plate adorned with a candle and happy birthday written in chocolate. The message to decorate my dessert hadn't made it to the kitchen, but the owner wanted to make sure I got the full birthday treatment. There's a reason we love that place...

                                    2. Go ahead, color me tacky. I kinda like the celebration. Our restaurant isn't really "fine dining" so we think it's okay if parties sing "Happy Birthday."

                                      However, if someone lets me know, I sing the jazz tune "You're Nearer." They lyrics can be found here: http://www.mp3lyrics.org/p/perry-como...

                                      It's short and very, very sweet. A lot classier than "how old are you now?!!"

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: shaogo

                                        Like a lot of things, there's a right way and a wrong way. Last Friday, we were at Caterina d' Medici at CIA. We overheard people at the next table saying it was one of the guest's birthdays. No fuss, no singing waiters, just a quiet, dignified "Happy Birthday" from staff. They did bring out a little dessert without fanfare, again, a quiet celebration. When we left, we quietly wished the guest a Happy Birthday and she was very appreciative.

                                      2. I hate the whole singing thing. I don't even want it done in the privacy of my own home by my own family.A simple Happy Birthday is enough.

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: MrsT

                                            I am SO with you there! My DH and I have a pact never to notify a resto of our birthdays, and my parents have learned NOT to call me and sing off-key (they think it's funny) to me because I'll hang up on them! A simple verbal greeting is plenty - oh, and lots of presents and chocolate! :)

                                          2. My favorite birthday song story involves me and my bf at the time showing up at a chain restaurant, late, hungry and miserable. We wait at the door only to be seated after a couple who walked through the door a few minutes after we did. We were shown to our table and our server came over and asked us if it would be okay if she took our drink order after she sang Happy Birthday to another table. Then she asked us, and I quote, "Have you ever been to a restaurant where they sing Happy Birthday?" We should have gotten up and left right then and there, but we stayed for the mediocre food and the funny story. Btw, the couple who was seated 1st was treated to an up close and personal view of the floor show, and by floor show I mean singing and dancing, luckily we were seated in the back so we could laugh and mock.

                                            1. Although I'm not a fan of being in the spotlight. I do enjoy watching others sing HB. I find it makes me smile and I absolutely appreciate that. These days, people don't smile as often and it's such a loss.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: gourmet wife

                                                I'd smile much more if they didn't interrupt my enjoyable dining moments with my DH.

                                              2. This takes me back to restaurants in Miami where the non-English-speaking staff would sing incomprehensible words with an economy of notes that was truly breath taking.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                                  A few years ago I was dining with a friend at one of the many Indian restaurants on 'Indian Row' on 6th street in Manhattan. I unfortunately don't remember the name of the restaurant (the food was not memorable in the least), but I will never forget the Birthday experience given to a patron at a table next to us. Important note- This restaurant is very narrow, and had mirrored walls on both sides. in the middle of our meal the lights go off (leaving the glow from Christmas lights that were hung on either side of the room), a bhangra-esq song starts blaring over the speakers, and 8 or so waiters start gyrating to the music in two straight lines down the middle of the restaurant. The best part was watching the waiters stare at themselves gyrating in the mirror walls, seemingly happy with the performance. I'm sure a Birthday dish of some sort was given out, but I was trying too hard to suppress my giggles to notice what it was. I'll never forget that one!
                                                  My nicest Birthday experience was at a high-end NYC restaurant, where they tastefully wrote 'happy birthday' in a nice script on the dessert plate. I was also given a small box of house-made candies as a gift.

                                                  1. re: twiggles

                                                    Oddly enough, I would have enjoyed your Indian experience provided I was not the recipient. I always like 'hippy' dancing.

                                                2. I don't like it for my birthday, don't care much if it is for someone else's. What I do object to is this: A number of years ago it was my daughter's birthday which she mentioned to the waitstaff. No problem. They sang the requisite and even brought her a cake. My birthday surprise was that I was billed for the cake!! Yes, I paid, but the story is one I have told so many times, it was worth the price.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Sinicle

                                                    Wow! I have never heard of that happening. For the sake of your daughter though it is good to read that you just paid it. ;)

                                                    1. re: Sinicle

                                                      Maybe when your daughter mentioned it to the waitstaff they asked her if she would like a cake and she said sure? I've discovered that anything that involves a "yes" to a server usually costs.

                                                      If they brought it out without asking first and charged you for it that would be tacky.

                                                    2. As teenagers we always got a kick out of telling the waitress it was the band director's birthday (even if it wasn't) whenever we stopped for lunch on band trips. We always made sure the cost of the dessert went on one of our bills and tipped well for the entertainment. At the time we thought it was hilarious. It never occurred to any of us that the teachers with 20 years of experience traveling with geeky kids knew exactly what was happening.

                                                      1. Some people enjoy being the center of the spotlight, some don't.

                                                        Is it necessary? No.

                                                        Is your pique regarding it necessary? No.

                                                        Your are dining in a public space. That space is not expressly tailored to your and DH's tastes.

                                                        We are talking, what, two minutes of time for the singing and such?

                                                        The option of reserving a private room, and controlling the experience to suit your taste, is always there. Of course, you will have to pay for that luxury...

                                                        Part of the pleasure and aggravation of dining out are the unexpected rub-ups with humanity. Birthdays, babies, drunks. On the upside: sharing appetizers with strangers, meeting new friends, and generally connecting with others, and compromising for the sake of the shared experience.

                                                        Otherwise, might as well stay home.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: LicketySplit

                                                          I agree! Bday songs are not for me personally, but life is too short to be offended by them if others enjoy it.

                                                        2. Wow...Simon Legree meet Buzzkill Betty.

                                                          Jfood loves the HB at his tables and tables around him. He always tries to chime in when itis sung and always applauds when completed. With all the bad things people complain about jfood hangs his head that the singing of HB is included in things that disturb people. Celebrating with friends and family over a good meal and having that 30 seconds of "you're appreciated" is one of life's little pleasures.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Atta boy, jfood.

                                                            I sing along, too, loud and off-key. And clap like hell. Maybe send a drink over if I see that they are drinking.

                                                            Since when has dining become like church? Or a courtroom? Please check all signs of sloppy humanity at the door, thankyouverymuch. No disruptions allowed!

                                                          2. <Why is this necessary and what adult would ever want this???>

                                                            It's not necessary, but I'm an adult & I kind of like it. When it's my birthday, it makes me feel just a little bit special. When it's someone else's birthday, it costs me no money and very little time to make him or her feel just a little bit special as well. Corny? Sure. Harmful? Nah.

                                                            17 Replies
                                                            1. re: small h

                                                              I don't understand people who say that they'd be so embarrassed to receive a birthday song that they would walk out of the restaurant - walking out of a restaurant is something I would be embarrassed to do and certainly would embarrass the other diners and the staff. That does not seem like an appropriate response to something done with good intention.

                                                              I guess I don't understand the fuss. Even at the goofiest of chain restaurants I doubt I've heard more than two songs in an hour. If the it is done in kindness and celebration I think it is a fine thing.

                                                              1. re: Jitterbug

                                                                As one who doesn't wish HB to be sung to them, especially after expressly asking that it not be sung in a public setting (and having been previously agreed upon by my friends not to do so), it's really quite simple - I don't wish it to be sung to me. I don't wish to be the center of attention in a restaurant.

                                                                The "good intention" in my case would have been *not* singing the song to me. I look at it as it's *my* birthday, and if I don't want the HB song sung to me in public and force me to be the center of attention, then *that* should be what is respected. And in my case, my wishes weren't respected, which is what made me unhappy and angry. I wanted to dine out with friends; I did not want the song sung to me. Plain and simple.

                                                                1. re: Jitterbug

                                                                  Though I have been embarrassed when sung to in the past, I would never walk out! To me that would be much more embarrassing, and personally I think I would be ashamed of myself for it. I usually am embarrassed for about 3 minutes and then I get over it ... if I walked out in an angry huff I would not only ruin the day for my friends and family, but also for myself. Though I prefer that my family doesn't sing to me in public, I love them enough to not hold it against them if they did. Hey, life is to short to go through it angry with the ones who love us. I think if a friend threw a selfish and child-like tantrum by storming out I would not have as much respect for them in the future. I keep thinking about what this would look like to a person from a third world country who doesn't have riches. Completely ridiculous! What a thing to protest! Me, me, me, I, I, I! We Americans can be so inflated with ourselves and our pride. There are better things to be prideful about. I am not innocent of this either ... but I do appreciate being reminded occasionally what I do have to be thankful for. I have so much!

                                                                  1. re: DishDelish

                                                                    Without going into the varying personal reasons as to *why* I don't wish the song sung to me, I would say it's not a tantrum - it's a matter of my wishes being respected if it is not sung. As the birthday person, shouldn't I at least get that?

                                                                    Each person has their personal reasons as to why they do or don't want something. In my particular case, this is not an American "I, I, I - me, me, me" situation, at least for me. Quite the opposite. I don't wish all focus to be on me. It's not an inflation of self. It's a matter of a simple request being honored - that the song is not sung.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      Sorry!!! I was specifically thinking about the guy who walked out on his wife at the top (and ended up aiming at everyone), and I just keep thinking that even though it was wrong of his ex-wife to do this it was almost more wrong of him to walk out on her ... almost child-like. Sorry about my little rant.

                                                                      1. re: DishDelish

                                                                        Fair enough, DD. But again, to each his own - especially if a spouse (or ex-spouse) or friend knows you don't want it / like it and they STILL do it. I think that's what tweaks some of us the most - when wishes aren't respected.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            given all the horrific things that could happen in a day - having people wishing you a happy birthday and celebrating you seems pretty far down the list of isht to get upset about

                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                              And I will repeat, thew - without you knowing the personal details regarding that date for me, you have absolutely *no* idea why I don't wish anything to be done. So while it might be far down the list for you, it isn't for everyone.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                that's true for everything and every conversation is a medium such as this. i assure i preface everything anyone says to me with an unspoken "seems to me." and you will note i explicitly stated this is how it SEEMS to me

                                                                                but given a choice between the mildest sort of embarrassment, and say a broken bone, death of loved one, collapse of a society, debilitating disease, or serious economic woe, i'll take the happy birthday every time..

                                                                                and i will repeat - if these are the problems one needs to worry about, as opposed to, say, having enough food for your children to survive, your life is probably better than a great deal of the planet's, and it behooves us to appreciate and celebrate that our problems, as such, are such.

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  I hate this type of argument because it presumes that everyone in relatively good situation should be happy with every situation, every time, because somewhere else, someone is in a worse situation. People have a variety of reasons for not wanting friends/family to bring attention to them at a party, and in many cases the guest of honor doesn't feel like he/she needs to fully divulge those reasons. I have plenty of friends who don't like specific holidays for very personal reasons. Perhaps someone had a twin who passed away and birthdays remind her of her lost sibling. Maybe something traumatic happened on a past birthday. The point is, if someone says that s/he isn't into huge celebrations, I think it's a good idea to respect her wishes.

                                                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                                                    i don;t think i presumed, or even said that. I just said that if my biggest problem was people wishing me happy birthday, i'd (emphasis on me) accept that as a pretty damned god day, week, month, year, or lifetime

                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              And that is just me ... cause I asked my hubby so as to get the male perspective and he said he would be pretty ticked (if she did know better). I still think it is pretty disturbing that he would brag about it though cause I am thinking about how she felt sitting there in the restaurant with everyone watching her as he stormed out.

                                                                              1. re: DishDelish

                                                                                Some people need that smack upside the head for things to really sink in, DD. And perhaps the storming out of the restaurant was the chosen two-by-four. ;-)

                                                                                And considering it's an ex-wife, perhaps that particular poster no longer cares what she thinks.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Your probably right. =) It just made me sad when I read it, don't know why. I'm weird in that way. After asking hubby though I am trying very hard to see it from his perspective as well.

                                                                    2. re: small h

                                                                      Yes, it's a little embarrassing for the honoree, but it comes from a place of love - somebody cares enough about you to want to honor your birthday. As a person with no family at all, I am a little envious. Friends arranged for the candle/cupcake/waitstaff serenade for one of my birthdays - the mortification was overshadowed by the thoughtfulness.

                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                        I think each person is different. Not everyone likes the focus to be about them or is into celebrating her own birthday. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think a lot of people go with this generic idea of what is appropriate based on what people are supposed to want. I wouldn't walk out of a restaurant if my friends had someone sing happy birthday to me, but I can understand if some people might feel very embarrassed and unhappy about it.

                                                                    3. I am with jfood, but I wished I had of beat him to it with "Debbie Downer" so others would have joined in the positive chorus over my comment. Naw, they would still wait for Jfood... It's almost like someone was waiting to see who would stick out their neck and say they liked it.

                                                                      The Happy Birthday routine is over pretty fast. It's not too painful and sometimes it's cute and fun. Is it really going to ruin your expensive meal? Is it going to hurt to let others revel in it? I don't like a noisy restaurant, but this is different. I met my last wife at a birthday dinner party thrown for me at a restaurant. She was our waitress...
                                                                      I understand that some people HATE attention and HATE to have their picture taken and don't want to recognize they are getting older. Try and get over it. People are trying to pay some attention to you and be nice to you. They might even like you. Have fun... life is short.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Scargod


                                                                        jfood was waiting for your post on them singing HB while you and Passa were in some drive-in on the Great Tour and they gave you some homemade whatever because the two of your were now part of the family.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          I think Mark told them it was his birthday or it's just good ol' BJ's hospitality. I think we were singing.
                                                                          BTW, it was my Mom's hallmark and tradition to call us and sing Happy Birthday to us. All five of us, religiously, till she died at 92. I sure do miss that creaky, off-key voice singing to me on my birthday!

                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                            I was just about to post about my dislike of my mom singing to me on my birthday (dreading that call in 2 days) and my husband "hates" it as well. Then I read this and, well, now I'm placing it in the category of sweet, harmless quirk that I will most probably miss.

                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                              What a sweet memory! =) I love when my Mom and sis do this for me, and now my kids.

                                                                        2. I am against it.

                                                                          It takes service away from all of the other guests as their server is required to participate.

                                                                          It is obnoxious and overbearing.

                                                                          1. I don't mind a low-key rendition -- but recently I was in a restaurant where the music went on full-blast and the lights started strobing. I bolted until it was over -- and then it happened again, for another birthday. Good food. Not going back.

                                                                            1. There was a NYC thread in which NYers universally expressed their absolute horror at the idea of some restaurant making people wear hats. Now many here express their loathing of "Happy Birthday" as an invasion of their precious privacy.

                                                                              Folks, don't ever leave the US!! In many other countries, bits of public participation in society and in social events is normal, the norm. In many, many countries people don't take themselves so seriously that they can't be a part of the larger group and share sonmething like a birthday.

                                                                              1. Why is this necessary? Nothing about a restaurant is necessary.
                                                                                What adult would ever want this? Clearly plenty of them. To each their own.
                                                                                Does this bother anyone else? Clearly plenty of people. Plenty of people clearly need to chill out.
                                                                                I hate being the center of attention, and I hate having my picture taken. But I love being surrounded by happy people having fun. If everyone else is having fun, why not join in?
                                                                                The only thing that bothers me about it is that we got stuck with such a lame birthday song in this country. Nothing beats the Venezuelan version of "Cumpleaños Feliz" accompanied by the ukulele, but I'd even settle for "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".

                                                                                1. i'm not so sure when being mildly embarrassed became worth this much vitriol. birthdays are cool. goofiness is cool. i always sing along , even when it's a strangers birthday. Life is short - embrace the absurdity and move on.

                                                                                  1. It's the only time I feel awkward in public, when strangers (wearing flair) crowd around me and sing.
                                                                                    That said, when it goes on around us, we usually chime in and clap at the end.

                                                                                    Once a guy I was dating had the crew bring out tiramisu on a plate that they had dusted with cocoa powder. Guess what happened when I blew out the candle? I still wonder if they did that on purpose as revenge for him making them sing...