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Sep 2, 2009 09:35 AM

Doggy Bag ... sub rosa style. A big "no-no"?

Is it ever ok to take home food secretly without letting the restaurant know about it?

I'm not talking about taking food that you did not order or pay for; rather, I'm talking about food that (1) you've ordered (2) paid for (3) have not finished (4) but the restaurant will not bag it up for you as a matter of policy.

Here's why I ask.

At a recent happy hour at chain steakhouse, one of us ordered the happy hour burger (which was darn good by the way). It was a big burger and could not be finished. Our companion wanted to take the rest home.

Server said could not bag up any food off the bar menu (or for that matter could not order any food "to go" from the bar menu).

Makes sense of course. The bar menu is deeply discounted and a loss leader used to entice people to order drinks -- a high margin item. The "no doggy bag" or "take out" rule prevents abuse by customers.

That said, would you frown on someone who grabbed a stack of napkins, and wrapped up the uneaten burger, put it in their purse, as their own little sub rosa doggy bag?

Your thoughts?

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  1. I'd do it in a heartbeat. I paid for the food; I should be able to do what I want with it. I would draw the line at pouring my undrunk beer into a plastic bottle and taking it home, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: small h

      LOL @ plastic bottle for beer.

      1. re: OCAnn

        And then I'd drink it through a straw, naturally.

    2. I agree - I paid for it, it's mine. The restaurant doesn't want to pay to box stuff up, that's fine.
      On a related note - I've thought about carrying a container along for a doggie bag, in an effort to avoid extra plastic/styrofoam. I mostly think about it when we go places where we don't usually finish what we order (pizza, Chinese food). However, I think I might really be labeled as crazy...

      1 Reply
      1. re: bakinggirl

        I have neighbors who bring their own tupperware, often even to pretty nice restaurants. The restaurant usually just seems happy not to have to use theirs. Nearby tables might look twice, but who cares about them.

      2. Well, I'd frown on it, but not for the "ethical" reasons you're asking about. Rather, who wants a dripping, soggy burger in their purse? Or any loosely wrapped food, for that matter.

        But assuming you just happened to have, say, a zip-top bag available, I'd say it's okay, as long as it's a one-time thing and you're not using the bar menu as cheap take-out. I'd probably act as your look-out if I were with you!

        Me, I'd either eat it or leave it. But that's just me. I wouldn't want a leftover burger, no matter how good.

        1. There's always a ziploc bag or two in my purse. Often that is a better way to transport leftovers than a styrofoam container, which is more likely to leak around the closure. It is usually possible to discreetly slip the leftovers into it if the venue is one in which you would feel uncomfortable being observed. Personally, I would not care if someone saw me. I have no particular reason to be uncomfortable with the food being taken away, then returned in a container, but I am. I prefer it when the server brings the container to the table and either packs up the leftovers there or leaves the task to the customer. I usually do a neater job of it than they do, and sometimes it looks like you're not getting back everything that you left...

          1. I hate wasting food, and so I would be fine with doggy-bagging it in this situation. I tend to agree with Lisavf that I wouldn't want a burger wrapped up in a bunch of napkins in my purse, but if I had some tupperware or a baggie, then sure.

            But I guess here may be some situations where I would be less comfortable doing so. For example, an all -you-can-eat situation, where doggy-bagging is not allowed because of the clear possibility of abuse. In these situations, I would not sneak in a doggy-bag.

            But when you have paid for an item, and you want to take the rest home, that seems fine.