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Nov 30, 2010 12:22 PM

Bringing birthday cakes/desserts to a restaurant? [moved from Boston board]

I've seen people bring in their own birthday cakes to a restaurant. I personally think it's a bit rude, especially if the restaurant in question has a dessert menu. What do you think?

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  1. I think if you call in advance to let them know, there's no harm. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate a special request like a birthday cake.

      1. re: HDinCentralME

        Thank you for your responses and especially for pointing out the previous thread. I've looked at threads here for a bit but I'm pretty new to posting/searching on the board.

        I should have given a bit more information as to why I was asking the question. I work at a restaurant and about 20% of the customers, who bring in their own cakes, are considerate enough to call beforehand to check. Most others will walk in with the cake and expect that it is alright. As this happens all the time and we do make special desserts upon request, the restaurant instituted a plating charge. This is where it gets awkward. Most people are fine with it but others balk at it and make it seem like the server/restaurant is getting away with armed robbery. In the meantime I can't tell you how many times it gets me or the other servers in the weeds because we often present the cake, wait for the person to blow the candle and cut the cake... then take it back to slice the cake and plate it ourselves, carrying over 6-20 plates and new silverware to the party. I get the grouse that if you are spending a lot of money on the food, shouldn't the restaurant forgo the comparatively paltry plating fee but on the other hand, if you are indeed paying that much for the meal, how is the plating fee breaking the bank? This doesn't even take into account the extra time at the table and delayed flipping of tables.

        1. re: bbdb

          "I get the grouse that if you are spending a lot of money on the food, shouldn't the restaurant forgo the comparatively paltry plating fee "
          actually, i don't understand why anyone gripes about the fee - it's for a service the restaurant staff is providing, not to mention the use of extra dishes & utensils. i think some people just like to complain ;)

          1. re: bbdb

            plating fees are completely OK with me.

            1. re: bbdb

              I agree that a reasonable fee for plating is not inappropriate. Seems to me that it is completely analogous to the corkage fee that most restaurants will charge if you bring your own wine. Both the corkage fee and a plating fee for serving a cake compensate the restaurant for the service and material (dishes, glasses) consumed by the customers involved in serving the food/wine that the customer brought, as well as the restaurant's lost opportunity to sell it's own wine/cake to the customers.

              1. re: bbdb

                I think people don't understand why it's a big deal. You'll see that on chowhound, the general consensus is that it makes sense for a restaurant to charge a plating fee if they even let you bring in the outside cake, because chowhounds generally have an idea of the time and effort involved in serving the cake. Do you just tell customers the plating fee is $X/slice? If so, it might help if you give them a brief explanation like, "In general we serve our own desserts here and are happy to prepare special desserts with advance notice. Occasionally we allow people to bring in outside desserts, but because of the extra time and effort it takes our servers to present the cake, and the extra plates and silverware that need to be used, we do charge a fee of $X/slice." And if you have room and are willing to store their cake, you could always say, "If that's not acceptable and you'd rather bring the cake home and serve it there, we'd be happy to keep your cake in the fridge during your meal."