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I know its your Birthday, but......

So about a week ago, a friend invited me (along with about 10 others) to a birthday dinner @ a rather expensive restaurant. The food here is above average, but not spectacular.. does have a very nice unique atmosphere. I would imagine for the evening planned , it would cost around $80+ per person ( do not want to immagine if i bring a date)...

However I just found out the ONLY reason for him having his Bday Dinner at this particular place is he will get a free meal (along with his g/f) and get a portion of the total bill off his next visit. So he plans on selecting some of the most expensive menu items for the only choices available for our party, thus resutling on more gratuity for his next visit.

Now I am not cheap and do look forward to this event, but feel like I am being taken for a ride.... ??? any thoughts?

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    1. dont most restaurants do a free bday meal?
      i know not all do ...but a lot do..but did it matter on the number in the party?what the amount of the bill was?
      if thats the only reason u were asked along..i would be a little annoyed..
      and i've never heard of one giving u a discount for your next visit..
      other than the cards like buy 12 get one free...

      6 Replies
      1. re: srsone

        I see more places out here (San DIego) having the 'celebrate your birthday with 6 or more guests and get a coupon good on your next visit' . (Todai and O-nami pop in my brain right now, but I know there are others)

        I couldn't do that to my friends. Really, only a handful of people are my true friends anyhow. The rest are acquaintances and co-workers.

        I would be 'busy' if I got an invitation knowing what the OP knows is the ultimate goal of the 'birthday party'..

        1. re: Cathy

          hmmm...dont recall seeing anything like that around here (florida)
          and yes i wouldnt do that either...

        2. re: srsone

          I've never heard of a free birthday meal, unless it was a chain, and even then it's not common where I am (Boston area).

          I still stand in the "If you do the inviting, you do the paying" camp. Decline this tacky-assed invite.

          1. re: srsone

            "dont most restaurants do a free bday meal?"

            None that I've ever been to, to include chain restaurants (like Friday's) or higher end. Maybe free dessert, but the whole meal for the birthday person? Not that I've experienced.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              If you join some restaurant programs for points awarded, usually on a dollar per point system, they reward you with a certificate for discount dining after X points have been accumulated. As an added bonus, they will offer you a birthday meal as well. In our area, Charlie Brown's had their *Handshake Club*. In the past, I knew you could register with TGIF and they would send you a coupon in the mail.......arguably, the most famous free meal is the four pound lobster offered at the Palm, unless you are inactive during a six month period where your membership may be cancelled.


              1. re: ttoommyy

                i can think of a few around here that give a free meal including chains..
                but yes some of them are just a free dessert..if u google "free on your birthday"
                whole sites that just list stuff u can get free ..not just at restaurants...

                but like i said in my first reply...ive never seen one give u a free meal AND a discount for the next meal based on the amount of people who you brought with u...

                so answering the op's post...if he was just invited to make up the warm body amount for the free meal and had to order only expensive meals so he can a bigger discount ...then no ..if you know thats what u are getting into then its up to the OP...

            2. You are being taken for a ride, but that in itself isn't reason enough to decline. If you think you'll have a good time, and you don't mind spending the money, you may as well go. His benefit isn't necessarily your loss.

              1 Reply
              1. re: small h

                if the person doing the invite explained this ahead of time i would be better about it...
                but if they sprang it on u when u showed up at the place...i wouldnt be happy...

                so if you know about this ahead of time..and he is a good friend...(and will reciprocate the deal on your bday at least) i would probably go...

                but i wouldnt invite people just for the deal ..no
                like "hey random guy who works in the office- its my bday and i need more than 6 people for me to get a free dinner"

              2. Sounds like a lot of gossip going on. If this person isn't that close a friend, don't go and save the money and the annoyance. If he is a close friend, then why not just ask him what's going on. If he says that's what he's doing, say that you think there should be a less expensive entree for those who are on budgets. If he blows you off, do the same.

                1. we never allow the birthday person pay for hir own meal, when i go out w/ friends anyway. we always divide it up amongst the rest of the diners.

                  the only thing i don't get is his limiting the menu. why isn;t the full menu on offer?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: thew

                    Because in addition to a free dinner for himself and his girlfriend, the birthday boy will get a portion of the total bill off on his next visit. So, the higher the total bill, the greater credit he will receive in the future. That's why he's limiting his guests to the most expensive items.

                    1. re: Whinerdiner

                      that i find troublesome. not that he gets a freebie, nor that he gets something off the next time. neither of those things bother me at all, in fact those are fine reasons to consider a place.

                      1. re: Whinerdiner

                        Unless your and your friends habitually eat at the most expensive restaurants, his plan is obnoxious, to say the least.

                        1. re: Whinerdiner

                          Wow. Some people have NO tact.

                          Did you go to the dinner?

                      2. Who's paying for the birthday boy and his girlfriend? The house or invited participants for the evening?

                        1. If he is controlling the party to the point of limiting the menu offered to participants, that moves things to a different level -- one where he should be paying and guests are just that, guests. Sounds more like a Tupperware (Mary Kay, Papered Chef) party than a birthday dinner. The guy's got brass ones. Do you think he expects gifts as well??

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: PattiCakes


                            This guy is hosting a party. He should pay for the entire thing.

                            1. Around here, I've only seen a free drink or dessert (OK, maybe the drink was just at my usual spot where they know me).

                              As a really picky eater with many digestive issues, if there was only one menu item, I'm quite sure it'd be something I can't/won't eat. Unless it's lobster, which I don't order out because we do it better at home.

                              1. Instead of replying individually I will group everything together. I honestly do not know how he got this arrangment. This is a local high end restaurant (that he does frequent) I would assume it was based on the fact he was bringing a nice table of people. Free meals are not common in my area, maybe desert.

                                IMO, I wish he would not told me about this set up, I cannot help to feel that he is trying to pull one over on the guests. He is also in the 100K+ salary range at soon to be 25yo, so it is not as if money is an issue. He is a close friend ; I just hope the "free" meal was not his sole reason for picking this option for everyone

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Augie6

                                  Sorry but if he is a close friend then you must have seen some of this kind of behavior before. Maybe when it happened before, it did not affect you personally and now that it may, you have a different viewpoint.
                                  Some people can't resist the "deal-making" this seems to be. I suspect you already knew this about him. He probably makes deals" alot.

                                  Personally. since you are obviously upset by the idea of this, I would not attend. Attending might mean you become even more upset about it; especially of you think you see some "gloating" or other behaviors. Take the friend out to a nice dinner at another time.

                                  I agree with other posters here that indicate if he is chose menu selections, he then became the Host and the rest of the party his guests. And we know the Host pays.

                                2. I once had a friend that planned her birthday party at a pretty expensive place. I knew I would have to chip in for her and that was ok. What was NOT ok was that (this was during college - I really had no money and so I just ordered a salad and drank water) when the check came we were all told to just split the bill. I complained but was ignored. I had to borrow money from another friend to pay my "share". Since then I ignore invites to these "birthday dinners", and just take them out to dinner myself.

                                  1. He's in the 100K pay bracket? He should invite his friends and pay for their dinner.

                                    When I was in my early 20s making maybe a bit over $1000/month, my tradition was to invite my 2 closest friends and my sister to a fairly high-end resto in town, letting them order whatever they wanted. The bill often amounted up to $500, and I didn't blink an eye.

                                    What your rich buddy is doing is tacky to the max (and reinforces my opinion about rich people).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Your "friend" sounds like he has an incredible sense of entitlement, to the point where I would reconsider my friendship.I've been to group birthday dinners at restaurants many times and often the spouse or bf/gf pays for everyone.I've never been involved in a situation where the guest of honor issued the invitations,but it seems extremely tacky to me for the birthday boy to ask a bunch of friends out to celebrate and expect everyone to pick up the tab.Throw in the fact that his gf isn't helping to pay for at least part of the dinner and I would then decline the invite. It seems to me the fairest way to pay for the evening would be to split the tab by the total number of people in the party.This way everybody benefits from the two free dinners.The gf should at least pay for her portion if not her portion and his.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        With that kind of salary, I'm surprised the friend didn't offer to take all his friends out. That is what we used to do when we were earning more money. And, when our friends asked us out for their days, we always surprised them by covering the whole bill.

                                        I'm not sure how I feel about this set up. Obviously, there are a lot of great responses here and I find much of them to be spot-on. But, this is a friend, this is what they want, this is for their day. And, you are not losing that much, you just will have limited choices and you know this in advance.

                                        I'll have to read on to see if you've already been and if it was a fun time just the same.

                                        Since it is a friend, there should be nothing wrong with being honest if you do not feel comfortable attending. Since I was laid off, we've declined quite a few invitations. I don't like declining birthday invitations but it is fun to ask people over for a lovely, home-cooked birthday dinner. I know it isn't the same thing as you've stated you can afford fine-dining out, but I do want to point out that a friend will understand if you decline the invitation. I would not, however, tell them why the decline! That would only let them know that you doubted the sincerity of their offer. And, what if there is nothing more going on than "share my day and I've chosen the finest menu options for the discriminating palates of my closest friends"?

                                        Plus, who told you they were hoarding bonus points? Maybe another friend who is not that nice? I'm not sure how I feel about their friend, someone close enough to invite to a birthday, tattling on supposed sneaky tactics.

                                        Oh, now I've really got to see what ended up happening!

                                        If you went, I hope you had a blast!

                                      2. the story - exactly as you've described it - certainly makes it sound like your friend has other motives. but i do not know the normally accepted behaviours in this friendship so it's difficult to comment definitively. would it be normal for your friendship to question your friend's choices (venue, limited menu, etc.)? it would be okay for some friends.

                                        the fact that you already feel like you are 'being taken for a ride" means that you will not feel good if you accept - even if you do end up enjoying the meal. your inner voice is telling you something now, and for the good of the friendship you need an assertive (not aggressive) response that will let this resolve as a partial win for both of you rather than a win for the friend and a resentful loss for you.

                                        how about: "i won't be there for the meal. i'd love to get there a bit later to celebrate over dessert/coffee/drinks." your friend's response to that could reveal more about motives. i'm sure others will have good suggestions too.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: ta0126

                                          You make a good piont Ta0126, I understand his personality and always have. He is a very good hearted person, but woudl not think this is tacky or off center. I know this about him, but the others invited will not be soo accepting , if they found out.

                                          I am in a rare situation, being a hound I am really excited about going to this place to eat drink and have a good time. Personally I think I will not make it to dinner on time , but will go for a drink afterwards.....

                                            1. re: Augie6

                                              Tell him you think it's a great plan, and that you'll be joining him for the free meal.

                                              Seriously, if he's that young and seemingly clueless, you might be doing him a favour to
                                              mention that the other friends might not appreciate this. Do the others also have a high income? You could simply say that you/them can't afford the higher ticket menu items, or even that so-and-so really loves simple pastas, not lobster.

                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                I totally agree with this. The worst thing you can do with people like this is continue to shield them from the consequences of their behavior. Either he is completely socially clueless, in which case you would be doing him a Life Favor by telling him how inappropriate his plan is, or he is one of those people who counts on other people being to "nice" to call him out and will continue to push everyone's boundaries. (Hint: It is door number two)

                                                In either case, you definitely owe it to the other people on his solicitation list to let them know that the point of this party is to subsidize a couple nights out on the town for him and his girlfriend. They are going to figure it out anyway.

                                              2. re: Augie6

                                                I think you should tell him honestly what your thoughts are. If he really is that good hearted, he would want to know that he is in danger of alienating friends. Especially if any included is less financially secure. In that case, it's not only rude, but inconsiderate.

                                            2. This "friend" is using you, your friends, and the restaurant. I would find something else to do: wash my car...wash my hair...wash my car's hair...anything. He has no class, no pride, and eventually, no friends.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                I just burst out laughing in my office at "wash my car's hair." That will absolutely be my next excuse for not going out on a date with someone terrible.

                                              2. He just sounds young and thoughtless. I don't think he's taking you all for a ride, at least not deliberately. He's probably a tad self-centered, which many people are at that age. He'll grow out of it eventually, as most of us do. If you think the food will be worth what you'll have to pay or you think you'll hurt his feelings by declining, then go. Otherwise, decline.

                                                1. personally I've never heard of a high-end or halfway decent restaurant offering two free meals as well as an additional discount. on additional meals.

                                                  I believe as others have stated that if the birthday boy is so intent on have a party that he organizes on himself then h should pay for it.

                                                  If his is making as much as you say he is then he is nothing more than an opportunistic cheapskate.

                                                  1. The kid is clueless, selfish and self-entiled. He is also a schnorrer.

                                                    First, you make a party for yourself, you invite people, you pay. If the friends put the party together, the b'day person's meal is split amongst the friends.

                                                    If this yutz is a friend, you need to have a heart to heart with him and tell him to man-up on this one.

                                                    BTW - I have never heard of b'day person and gf eat for free.

                                                    1. You're not cheap - he is! I wouldn't go to the dinner on principle... suddenly come down ill and cancel on him and leave him to pick up the tab.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                        Tacky tacky. If a "host" "invites" me to be a "guest", it would be the total opposite of what is described. And his limiting the menu to the most expensive items tops it off as exceedingly self-entitled and low class.

                                                        I'm soon having a significant birthday. On my dime I'm holding a party and paying for everything at a neighborhood wine bar. I just started a new career and am making next to nothing.

                                                        I am aghast at the "invitations" received lately, asking me to help foot the party bill for people I haven't spoken to in years. And oh yes, I'll be unavailable for those. If all you can "afford" is to do a shakedown of colleagues/acquaintances/shirttail relations/neighbors/classmates you haven't seen in 25 years, or if you are simply too cheap to pay for something decent, rent out the VFW hall, crank up the boombox, and serve soda with chips and dip. And do it graciously.

                                                      2. IMO, two traditions got confused with the birthday thing. In one tradition, your friends take you out for a birthday dinner. Someone else is the host and they organize an event where people take you out for dinner.

                                                        In another tradition, you take people out for your birthday. That means either you're inviting people out for a normal dinner, where everyone pays for themselves, or you're paying. If you personally issue a formal birthday invitation, you're paying.

                                                        But no, we get the horrible scenario where people issue a formal birthday invitation for themselves, and then expect other people to pay. It's like throwing your own shower.

                                                        And on top of *that* now we have this guy trying to get even more bang for his buck, but given his initial misunderstanding of how the birthday thing works, can you blame him for thinking the whole thing is an excuse to fleece your friends?

                                                        Skip it.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Raids

                                                          your third "horrible" scenario - minus the word formal, is the standard way me and my friends have operated for many decades. It resembles your 1st scenario, only the person whose birthday it is chooses the venue and call the friends.

                                                          all very very informal. not horrible in the least

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            RIght, just like hosting your own shower would totally resemble someone else hosting your shower, only you choose the location and send invitations to your friends and family.

                                                            However, if people hosted their own showers in your circle of friends and had done so for years, who would care? Etiquette rules speak otherwise, but in a close tight group, people should feel free to write their own etiquette. Why not?

                                                            On the other hand, when not-too-close friends tell me they're going out to a bar and invite us to come along for her birthday, and then bait and switch us with a late dinner, after we've already eaten, and then order champagne and oysters while we have a couple of cheap cocktails and the tuna tartare we ordered to split to justify our seats for the server, I don't expect to drop $200 covering their tab. With their three other friends.

                                                            At least when people are up front about it I know to decline. Surely you've read about this being a problem elsewhere? There was Slate article about it here: http://www.slate.com/id/2202646/

                                                            1. re: Raids

                                                              Very good article Raids - thank goodness my friends aren't like that.

                                                        2. Decline, and send him a re-gifted fruitcake, It is exactly what he deserves.

                                                          1. Out of curiosity Augie, how did you find out that this was his intention with the dinner, and that it is his only reason for choosing the restaurant (complete with free dinner for he and his g/f )

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                              Well I knew about the free birthday meal from a previous visit. I found out from his g/f about getting money off thier next meal ( which she did invite to join them; after the fact)

                                                              1. re: Augie6

                                                                At the very least, I hope he lets his guests know that there will be a 'special menu' for this dinner, and they can't rely on the regular menu to determine if they can afford this outing.

                                                                I feel the restaurant management is somewhat to blame here too. They suggested a very tacky scenario to a young, clueless guy. They could at least steer him towards a menu with different price points. It's the kind of thing he could actually lose friends over (or be wondering why no one comes to his birthday next year).

                                                                For the record, in my small circle, the birthday person is free to pick the restaurant and can expect to be treated. We've known each other for years and it's not an issue. So it's not that aspect that bothers me about your friend's party. I'm familiar with the scenario in the Slate article too and that indeed does suck (large groups with different incomes and expectations). I think it is a twenties thing because nobody I know does that anymore.

                                                                1. re: Augie6

                                                                  The only reason I asked really is because it is easy to start getting steamed when someone in a group of friends starts talking about why they believe such and such is happening - not making assumptions saves everyone a lot of grief. You heard it straight from the horse's mouth so you're good :)

                                                              2. I would decline, imo the rule on birthday dinner is your friends invite you to dinner and THEY get to decide where you eat ... though of course they may ask you what you would prefer ... given that they issued the invite, it is expected they will pay for the meal.

                                                                However if YOU issue invites to a birthday dinner at a restaurant that you selected, then it is expected that YOU will pay for everyone's meal.

                                                                The person doing the inviting pays for the meal.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: redfish62

                                                                  Yep with you on that, redfish. If I do the inviting, I am the host(ess), and fully expect to pay. What this person's friend is doing is tacky in the extreme. It leaves a foul taste in my mouth that no amount of birthday cake, free or not, will erase.
                                                                  If he is truly a good friend, you might bow out politely and then take time later to explain your position. This person is not going to win points on earth or in heaven for continuing to behave in such ways - and will probably lose friends in the doing. There is a way to say anything you need to say without being challenging or rude, just, "this is how I feel, and this is why."

                                                                2. Like many others in this thread, it is the norm in our group for the birthday person to choose a "reasonable" restaurant then the friends pitch in for their meal.

                                                                  That said, I think this arrangement is OK (b-day boy's meal is paid for, sweet!) up until the forcing his friends to pick higher priced meals part. I'd say sorry, then stop by for a drink.

                                                                  1. Thanks to everyone that commented, I did not expect to get this much feedback. I wanted to UPDATE on how everything went with this situation. I did end up going to the get together... I did not care for the way my friend handled the invites and set up of this party. However, I do really enjoy this restaurant, very unique tasty food. Not a place I would normally frequent.. To my surprise he did cover the drinks and apps for the evening (which was well over the price of thier meals )

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Augie6

                                                                      That sounds like a good outcome in the end! Glad to hear it :)

                                                                      1. re: Augie6

                                                                        >However, I do really enjoy this restaurant, very unique tasty food. Not a place I would normally frequent

                                                                        Which restaurant?

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          Tamari --- No idea how he got this deal... ( I dont eat sushi ; only reason I dont frequent often )


                                                                        2. re: Augie6

                                                                          Decent outcome and I'm really glad you enjoyed your meal.

                                                                          But... I really feel if anyone is hosting their own birthday party, they really need to pick up the entire tab. Their gift is the company of their friends.

                                                                          I've been in the odd position of throwing my own birthday party as I've had a few big relocations and brand new friends in my life. Never done it at a swanky dinner place, but usually just a bar with snacks. I've always made it clear that it's on me, no gifts needed, and I'd just be happy if people showed up and had fun.

                                                                          But, that's my system--maybe I'm doing it wrong. Who knows.

                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                            I am with you all the way alliegator. In most cases if I invite someone to dinner/party I am picking up the tab.

                                                                            1. re: Augie6

                                                                              I thin it might be a generational thing, since a lot of younger people seem to socialize in "packs." So when one person says "It's my birthday, let's go out to dinner" they do not necessarily mean they will treat everybody--often times that would make in unaffordable--but rather they'd like to spend their birthday with friends all celebrating together. i think that's fine. I'm 60, and when friends of mine say "Want to go out to dinner?" unless they follow it we "Our treat" I assume we'll each be paying our own way.

                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                im 50. we never let the bday celebrator pay

                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                  That's fine. I never let the bday boy/girl pay either but the difference is when the bday person invites you out and assumes you will pay simply because it's their "special day," so special that if you are born in the US, this special, mysterious event will occur an average of 78 times in your life.

                                                                                  There's a huge difference between accepting your friends' generosity and expecting/assuming something and that's where I draw the line.

                                                                                2. re: escondido123

                                                                                  I'm 33 and pay.

                                                                                  Crap. Does this put me in the "old" bracket or the "young" bracket?

                                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                    I thought the same thing! I'm 35 and pay, but I remember taking some new pals out for my 24th and paying. I must have an old soul. :)-
                                                                                    And, yes--people have tried to pay for mine, but everytime I host a group in this situation, I quietly give the bartender or server my card as soon as I enter and let them know that I'm the only person paying.

                                                                            2. re: Augie6

                                                                              Good, I'm glad it was a fun time and that they decided to share in their birthday fun by paying for some of the dinner.