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Charging for cakes

dryrain Nov 20, 2011 05:13 AM

How common is it that restaurants charge you for bringing your own birthday cake to a restaurant where you are eating? I have never done this before but know people who have. In London at St Johns they charge £7.40 per person if you have slice of your own cake. I can see both sides of the argument. Just wanted to see how people feel about it? And how common this practise is among restaurants.

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  1. Peg RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 05:22 AM

    Cakeage make just as much sense as corkage - the restaurant is losing out on selling desserts after all. I've never encountered it myself but then I've never considered taking cake to a restaurant. (I am in the UK).

    1. m
      Muchlove RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 05:55 AM

      £7.40 per person?! That seems horrendously expensive to me.

      I don't think it's the same as corkage for wine. I mean, there are plenty of restaurants that don't sell cake-like puddings so they can't exactly say you are bringing something they can offer. Also, it's a birthday for gods sake. I am sure the party will spend enough extra on food and drink to make up for missed desserts, plus it's not like they are going to bring a cake everytime thy come!

      In the pub I used to work in, if people had a birthday cake we would keep it in the kitchen, put candles on it and bring it out at the end of the meal. No charge, we just liked to do it!

      1. cowboyardee RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 05:56 AM

        There was some heated discussion of both the practice of bringing cake to a restaurant and the practice of a restaurant charging a 'forkage' fee in this thread:

        Personally, I think a forkage fee is reasonable for the restaurant to ask. I also think that the customer should clear it with the restaurant ahead of time that it's OK to bring a cake. And I think that it's in bad taste to bring a cake to a restaurant if they are able to prepare a cake for you.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee
          Muchlove RE: cowboyardee Nov 20, 2011 07:15 AM

          I agree that you should ask in advance, and that if they can make a cake then it would be better to look into that. And I suppose a small fee wouldn't be completely unreasonable. But £7.40 per person? Isn't that a bit much?

          1. re: Muchlove
            cowboyardee RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 03:11 PM

            It's definitely steep. My first guess would be that such a high fee is the restaurant's not-all-that-subtle way of saying that they aren't totally OK with people bringing their own cake - the type of thing I might expect from a place that doesn't want to turn away business but is also sort of pissed that you didn't ask if said restaurant's pastry chef could make the cake instead.

            OTOH, if the restaurant is NOT able to make a birthday cake and they still charge that much for 'forkage' - then, yeah, that price is pretty unreasonable.

        2. mamachef RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 07:30 AM

          The fee is ridiculous in this case, but the practice of charging is not. This place is clearly trying to discourage people from bringing food in. It doesn't say much for their hospitality, though. I'd be happy to pay corkage, and even a plate/fork charge, but that much? Ridiculous.

          1. s
            Steve RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 07:34 AM

            I would expect a fee, and I would be very surprised if they didn't have one. I would not be surprised at a $25 fee for a whole cake.

            1. Withnail42 RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 08:37 PM

              Like others have said I can appreciate a reasonable fee. 7.40 sounds like they're gouging and a real turn off.

              1. h
                hilltowner RE: dryrain Nov 20, 2011 09:22 PM

                I agree with all others. I am in the US, and I don't know the conversion, but my restaurant charges $2.00 (US), and we include a scoop of ice cream. It's really just to cover the costs. I have to wonder if the price to bring your own might be more than the price to eat theirs. I do understand the urge to keep people from bringing their own dessert, but come on - how many people actually do that? And you could keep the numbers down with a much lower forkage price.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hilltowner
                  HoosierFoodie RE: hilltowner Nov 21, 2011 07:48 AM

                  I see problem charging a nominal fee for bringing in one's own food. The restaurant's has costs associated with this practice.

                2. invinotheresverde RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 08:06 AM

                  This is just the restaurant's subtle (passive-aggressive?) way of saying they don't want to SAY you can't bring cake, but you can't bring cake.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: invinotheresverde
                    freia RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 08:12 AM

                    LOL so true...it can't possibly cost 10 dollars a person to wash 1 plate and 1 fork. And you cut the cake yourself! I agree -- and its kind of sad. Its a nice thing when a restaurant is gracious enough to allow you to bring in a cake that has personal meaning for the guest. Especially since often, the guests are from such diverse locations that you can't really meet "off site" for the cake. And a birthday/anniversary celebration where everyone's paid for an appetizer, meal and wine is different from, say, bringing in a Subway sandwich while everyone else is eating off the menu. A minimal charge per person as cakeage would be understandable, but I must eat at different places because its never been a problem where I go. In fact, for my birthday, not only did the restaurant owner say SURE to the cake, he treated me to an Amaretto-laced chai tea at the end of the meal, too. Needless to say, we'll return AND recommend his place highly. AND tipped well. Sounds like the other place is being penny wise, pound foolish...

                  2. CarrieWas218 RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 08:10 AM

                    Here in the States cakeage ranges from $2.50 to $5.00 a person; not only making up for losing out on selling desserts, but charging for the use and washing of their utensils, plates, and service.

                    Reasonable, I think. £7.40? Not quite so...

                    1. Motosport RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 08:20 AM

                      We have done it at Manhattan restaurants where we are regulars and it's a birthday party for a dozen guests or so and have never been charged.
                      I am guessing that if it was a small party and we were not regulars we would be charged.

                      1. e
                        escondido123 RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 09:20 AM

                        Why would you bring your own cake to a restaurant? Don't they serve dessert? At virtually any restaurant I've been to if you tell them ahead of time they are willing to make a fuss--candles and all.

                        45 Replies
                        1. re: escondido123
                          Muchlove RE: escondido123 Nov 21, 2011 09:26 AM

                          Sometimes people want a specific cake for a birthday. It may be homemade or it may be from a specific shop. It is certainly not unusual to do this.

                          1. re: Muchlove
                            invinotheresverde RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 09:35 AM

                            But a restaurant isn't your house. They only offer certain things. Bringing a cake says that their food is good enough for you, but their desserts aren't.

                            If you're that particular about it, maybe a nice dinner at home is a better option. I mean, i don't get to bring the exact ribeye I want to a restaurant, do I? Same thing.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde
                              Muchlove RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 09:47 AM

                              It's a birthday cake for god's sake. Personally I've never been to a restaurant that was bothered by it. I don't get what the problem is here.

                              The one time I was one of the people putting a cake aside at a restaurant for a birthday meal, I know we were not charged and the restaurant was very happy for us to bring a cake. At other people's parties I cannot say for sure what "cakeage" may or may not have been charged but 100% of the time the restaurant has seemed happy to have a birthday party in and in fact usually the staff put the candles on the cake and then come out of the kitchen to sing happy birthday!

                              1. re: Muchlove
                                invinotheresverde RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 10:06 AM

                                "...and the restaurant was very happy for us to bring a cake". Restaurants are not happy you bring a cake, let alone very happy. If they don't serve dessert, they probably don't MIND, but happy? If they do serve dessert, they're losing revenue. It's the hospitality industry, so they put on a happy face.

                                How is a birthday cake any different than the rib eye I mentioned? Can you bring your own soup?

                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                  Muchlove RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 10:20 AM

                                  I don't know why you are reacting so strongly to this. The restaurant were happy actually. Maybe they were human beings who got joy from seeing other people happy, who knows. They were very interested in the cake as it was home made and decorated to look like a caterpillar, iced with my Dad's "famous" mars bar icing which pretty much sets solidly but is at least delicious. The staff thought it was cute and hilarious as it was for my 21 year old brother. We had bought our own candles but they dug around and got some extra ones to get the total number to 21.

                                  Not everyone in the hospitality industry is a complete drone who is unable to have any compassion for other human beings and constantly thinks only about money. Actually, even if they do only think about money, birthday cake seems like an ok thing because the "cakeage" fee seems to be a nice amount of money for washing a few plates.

                                  For the record, my family doesn't always take a cake for birthday meals, but this was a "milestone" birthday so we wanted to do something special.

                                  By the way, more proof that sometimes restaurant staff are nice and want you to have a good time? Well on three occasions when a restaurant has found out that we were eating out for a birthday, our family has received amazing gifts. Once when my brother was 12 a restaurant baked him a cake and iced it with a birthday message and refused to take any money for it. Another time, I got a slice of cake at the end of my meal with a candle in it, again no charge. And on another occasion a restaurant gave my Mum a bottle of pink bubbly for her birthday and once again they would not even dream of taking money for it.

                                  So there you go, restaurant staff are people too.

                                  1. re: Muchlove
                                    freia RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 11:01 AM

                                    WORD to the above. I don't get what the draconian "you are here at MY convenience and you WILL do EXACTLY as I say" type of restaurant! Don't get it at all. Of course you would ask it this is OK. If not, then you can make your decisions accordingly. In fact, I know that if the restaurant we had picked for my birthday said "sorry no outside cakes" we would have taken our 12 member party (and all the cash associated with the wine, appetizers, and main courses, plus tip) to another restaurant. You see, we weren't celebrating the RESTAURANT, we were celebrating a BIRTHDAY and it happened to be at that restaurant, and quite frankly, there are more than enough restaurants out there that will be happy to accommodate. No problem with some cakeage costs, that's expected. 10 bucks each says 'we're charging you for dessert even if you don't have it". Its a freaking cake, that's all. Not the main, not the appetizers. Its a celebration cake. Doesn't happen every day. But I tell you, if the restaurant is doing a TON of birthday business, they'll make up the cost of their dessert loss in tips and drinks alone from the masses of people there. And if the restaurant chooses to not do this, fair enough. I can assure them that there IS more than one restaurant in town.

                                    1. re: freia
                                      escondido123 RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 11:09 AM

                                      I have never been in a restaurant where people brought in their own cake--unless it was in a private room where I didn't see it. I have certainly been at restaurants where a candle was put on the dessert of the birthday person, but never a cake brought in.

                                      1. re: escondido123
                                        freia RE: escondido123 Nov 21, 2011 11:13 AM

                                        Edit: for some reason this went above the post it was meant to respond to! Sorry (shaking fist at computer screen!)

                                        See, that's the thing. Usually it isn't too common, but when its done its usually around a special cake aka handmade or homemade or special for the person. Which is why I'm wondering why it would be SUCH a big deal. If it doesn't happen very often, then why not accommodate a special event? You'd think a restaurant would be happy to get the business. After all, they don't know if you'll order dessert or not in any event as a 'regular diner". It seems silly for a restaurant to turn down the "guaranteed" drinks/appetizers/mains/wine for the sake of a special event cake...

                                        1. re: freia
                                          escondido123 RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 11:23 AM

                                          I just think it is odd. I'd think it would be odd to ask to bring your own "lasagna" that's Nona's secret recipe and think that the restaurant is "guaranteed" drinks/app/wine/desserts. Restaurants make their money serving food. If folks brought their own it would kind of defeat the purpose.

                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            freia RE: escondido123 Nov 21, 2011 11:31 AM

                                            Of course it would be odd to bring lasagne, then you'd stay at home. Dont be silly! A cake as a celebratory item is pretty, well, common. I've really never heard of a birthday lasagne LOL! Maybe it comes down to the restaurants one is choosing to go. There is no pastry chef at most of the restaurants in my town. So for a cake, what I'm buying is a slice of a cake that they have in turn bought from someone else. Not very special, at least, not for a birthday. And we went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, not a cuisine known for its chocolate bombe birthday cakes LOL. Thankfully the owner was amazing and we had a great time. I think a little customer service really goes a long ways. Like I said, you can have a half empty restaurant as an owner with a policy of NO CAKES, or maybe a full one, with some good word of mouth and goodwill and maybe a home cake brought in once or twice a month. I guess it's the restaurant's choice. And heck, it IS a hard market out there this day and age. We can always vote with our feet.

                                            1. re: freia
                                              lyri RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 12:10 PM

                                              I agree with you that if the cake fee is affecting your business then maybe it should be reconsidered or lowered. As reasonable as I think a small fee is, I'm not sure if my workplace is going to benefit or get hurt by it. However, some places have cakes brought in not once or twice a month, but once or twice a day. You should see my workplace on Sundays, I often run out of ideas of where to store the cakes.

                                          2. re: freia
                                            invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 11:25 AM

                                            No, it's usually NOT a special cake. That's part of the problem.

                                          3. re: escondido123
                                            chowser RE: escondido123 Nov 21, 2011 11:50 AM

                                            It depends on the kind of restaurant. If it's one where the restaurant has cake and a pastry chef, I agree that it's odd. But, for a casual place that doesn't? I have quite a few family members who own restaurants, don't really serve dessert, and they have no problems with it and encourage larger parties for celebrations. It brings in a lot of extra business--big parties people don't want to have in their own homes and don't want to invite people to their homes after for cake.

                                            I ordered my own wedding cake from a favorite bakery for my wedding. The reception hall was happy to accommodate and worked closely w/ the bakery. There was a cutting fee which we gladly paid. It's almost commonplace for people to bring in their own wedding cakes and I don't think I've been to a wedding that didn't.

                                            1. re: chowser
                                              invinotheresverde RE: chowser Nov 21, 2011 11:59 AM

                                              Agree that if no dessert is offered, it's not as big a deal.

                                          4. re: freia
                                            invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 11:28 AM

                                            Please explain to me how it's different than taking in your own main or appetizer, please.

                                          5. re: Muchlove
                                            invinotheresverde RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 11:23 AM

                                            I'm "reacting so strongly" because it's no different than taking in any other course. It's a slap in the face to restaurants and especially pastry chefs. And, just my opinion here, but it's incredibly tacky.

                                            Most people don't bring in "special" cakes, they bring in a red dye #5 travesty, complete with loud plastic container.

                                            There's a big difference between the restaurant CHOOSING to give you something to celebrate a birthday and you taking it upon yourself to bring something in.

                                            I know EXACTLY how restaurant staff are: I was one for 15 years. It's nice that you think they thought your dad's cake was cute and hilarious. Betcha I could tell you verbatim what they said out of earshot.

                                            1. re: invinotheresverde
                                              freia RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 11:33 AM

                                              And who really cares what the restaurant staff says out of earshot! At least there was a large group of paying customers having a great time at their establishment spending money and leaving tips. I suppose a half empty restaurant is better for a server? Doubtful...

                                              1. re: freia
                                                invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 11:43 AM

                                                Choosing to patronize a restaurant means you can do whatever you like?

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                  freia RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 12:22 PM

                                                  No, it means you can politely ask if it is OK and if it isn't, I have the choice to find another restaurant. And also to tell my circle of friends and community that the restaurant in question really wasn't very friendly nor accommodating. No one is suggesting that you show up at a restaurant and say "HEY! I have Nona's Festival Insalata Caprese in my handbag, could you serve it up please?". What IS being said that if you make a special request like this, and are turned down, then you can find another place. And pass their non-accommodation on to friends and family.
                                                  Sometimes I think the restaurant industry forgets that they need us, the customer, waaay more than the customers need the restaurant. Lots of very storied chefs have found this out the hard way.

                                                  1. re: freia
                                                    LeoLioness RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 12:29 PM

                                                    So you think a restaurant not wanting diners to bring in outside is "unfriendly"? Really? Or would you feel the same towards any policy you don't agree with?

                                                    The customer isn't always right....

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                                      Muchlove RE: LeoLioness Nov 21, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                      FWIW, if the restaurant we wanted to take my brother's cake to had said no, we still would have gone. We would have done the cake later at home, it would just have been less convenient as some guests lived quite far away from us.

                                                      I'm happy to abide by a restaurants rules. It's just that in this case I don't understand why most restaurants (perhaps not very fine dining) wouldn't say "That's fine, we will charge x per person for this though."

                                                      1. re: LeoLioness
                                                        freia RE: LeoLioness Nov 21, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                        If it is for a special occasion and the request is reasonable and made in advance, and the restaurant says NO, I have the right to find another restaurant. Like I said, restaurants only exist when there are customers. Doesn't mean the customer is always right. But in this instance, if refused for s clearly special occasion, I absolutely would find another restaurant and feel free to tell those around me that for a special occasion, that particular restaurant wasn't friendly.
                                                        You really can't expand my opinion on this ONE specific example (its a cake! for a party! Once a year! Maybe its once in a lifetime!) to broad sweeping statements, such as "in every circumstance the customer is always right". That would be a silly thing to do.
                                                        The question was simple...is 10 dollars cakeage out of line? I say YES.
                                                        I also say that a restaurant that says NO don''t bring your party of 12 here because we won't serve up your homemade cake for Nona's 90th Birthday isn't being particularly accommodating nor very smart. And has forgotten that they need clients more than we as clients need them. It seems to me that given this age of fiscal restraint, it would be better to have that party of 12 spending money on wine and food, with a high possibility of repeat customers and good word of mouth, rather than turning it all down for the sake of a 5 dollar dessert.

                                                        1. re: freia
                                                          invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                          As a side note, bringing ANY outside food into a restaurant is illegal in my state. Some restaurants are willing to bend the rules and some are not.

                                                          BTW, at a "nice" restaurant, it's always a special occasion.

                                                          1. re: freia
                                                            escondido123 RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 12:45 PM

                                                            There are restaurants where the cake, and singing, and presents would all be fine and other diners would be delighted to see and hear it all. And then there are restaurants where diners do not expect those kind of events to occur outside of a private dining room. Nobody is right or wrong, just different places. And if they want to charge a lot for having you bring in a cake, I would bet it's because they're not the kind of place that wants that going on. And yes, they might lose some customers but they also might keep those not interested in being a part of someone elses birthday party. Different strokes.......

                                                        2. re: freia
                                                          invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                          What is the difference between bringing in Nona's Festival Insalata Caprese and a cake?

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                            invinotheresverde RE: invinotheresverde Nov 23, 2011 09:12 AM


                                                          2. re: freia
                                                            Steve RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 02:29 PM

                                                            It sounds to me like you are trying to 'hate' on a restaurant that doesn't want you to bring in outside food. It's not enough for you to be displeased with their policy, but you want to make sure they 'pay' for their insolence by spreading the word.

                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                              freia RE: Steve Nov 22, 2011 03:14 PM

                                                              Not really LOL. I just think that if a restaurant says no to a celebration like this, I reserve the right to say "Hey we have to change restaurants because they won't allow outside cake in their place. Not very friendly, huh..." or if asked for a restaurant recommendation, I reserve the right to say "well, don't go if you want to bring your Auntie's cake, they dont let you do that there:. I think that's kind of how word of mouth kind of works?

                                                            2. re: freia
                                                              invinotheresverde RE: freia Nov 23, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                              So you're going to bad-mouth the restaurant because you didn't get your way? That's not a Chowhound attitude in the slightest.

                                                              A restaurant makes policies knowing full well it may alienate some customers. Those are exactly the customers they want to alienate.

                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                fourunder RE: invinotheresverde Nov 23, 2011 09:30 AM

                                                                Funny....I thought the Chouhound member manifesto was to hold the restaurant hostage....whenever possible

                                                                * I deserve to be comped

                                                                * If they want my business then....

                                                                * the bread should be free....

                                                                * the salad should be free....

                                                                * well, if you are out of the chuck steak, I should be able to substitute the filet mignon without an up charge.

                                                                * and etc.

                                                                You get the idea.....the customer is not always right.


                                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                                  invinotheresverde RE: fourunder Nov 23, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                                  Happy Thanksgiving, four.

                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                    fourunder RE: invinotheresverde Nov 23, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                                    right back at you......

                                                        3. re: invinotheresverde
                                                          Muchlove RE: invinotheresverde Nov 21, 2011 11:34 AM

                                                          You are of course entitled to your opinion and have clearly had different experiences than me. I disagree with you but that's ok. For the record, you have no idea what the restaurant staff "really thought" of our cake. I guess the restaurant staff I have met have just been happier and less resentful. It's also amazing how being polite and friendly to staff gets a positive reaction.

                                                          I too have worked in a kitchen and we would get a birthday or anniversary cake in every now and then. They were probably 75% home made and pretty much all of them had some kind of personal message iced on top. I can tell you know that we staff liked to see people's cakes and had great fun arranging candles and bringing it out, whilst singing happy birthday of course!

                                                          1. re: Muchlove
                                                            pollymerase RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 12:07 PM

                                                            I'll chime in that I've worked in the business for 15 years and had numerous friends/family that have worked in restaurants of various types in various regions of the country, and never once have any of them said they enjoyed having to go and sing happy birthday to a customer. It's quite the opposite in fact. However, it is the hospitality industry, so everyone sucks it up, puts a smile on their face (if they are good at their job), sings, kisses your tush, and acts like they are so excited it's your birthday. I'm sure somewhere, someplace a restaurant exists that truly is happy it's your birthday, but I think for the vast majority it's fair to assume it's just a part of their job that they dislike. I think most of us have that in our job regardless of profession.

                                                            1. re: pollymerase
                                                              freia RE: pollymerase Nov 21, 2011 12:16 PM

                                                              Sometimes think the restaurant industry forgets that they need customers more than customers need their particular restaurant....

                                                              1. re: freia
                                                                pollymerase RE: freia Nov 21, 2011 03:26 PM

                                                                But most restaurants don't forget it, as they come out with smiles on their faces and make you believe that it is the highlight of their night to be singing to you. That's what a good restaurant and its staff does--tries to make sure you have a great meal/night even if it is a hassle or difficult for them.

                                                                1. re: pollymerase
                                                                  Ditdah RE: pollymerase Nov 23, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                  Frankly, I don't think any servers should sing at someone's birthday, unless maybe at a place specializing in/catering to children's parties. The servers have too damn much to do anyway, running around taking care of the rude patrons who order them about like slaves.

                                                                  It always feels awkward to me when the staff comes out and sings to me on my birthday - I don't know them, they don't know me, and I know they don't care it's my birthday. Why pull them away from their actual work just to sing to someone? The whole thing just seems odd to me.

                                                                  Not that I'm saying I've ever felt that from the servers - they always smile and sing as if it's the highlight of their day. It's yet another reason I don't have the attitude or patience to work in the hospitality industry. God bless those of you who do, as you have to have nerves of steel not to dump trays of food right on the heads of some patrons.

                                                                  1. re: Ditdah
                                                                    hilltowner RE: Ditdah Nov 23, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                                    We need more people like you. It is my policy, as a server, to never sing at somebodies birthday, even if singing has been requested. I am a server, not a singer. Singing in public makes me VERY uncomfortable, I am NOT good at it, and I see absolutely no reason why it should be required of a server, so I always politely decline.

                                                                    1. re: Ditdah
                                                                      mjhals RE: Ditdah Nov 23, 2011 03:11 PM

                                                                      Wow, if you feel so strongly (servers compared to slaves, really?), why in the world would you let them know it's your birthday and risk the painful singing? I hate it too, but there's a very easy solution- DON'T mention your birthday.

                                                                      1. re: mjhals
                                                                        Ditdah RE: mjhals Nov 28, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                        I didn't mean for it to come across QUITE that strongly... It's just a sore spot with me, when patrons treat their servers as though they are beneath them. I see it happeneing so often, and I cringe everytime. I'm sorry if my post seemed harsh.

                                                                        And FWIW, I have never mentioned it was my birthday to a server. It's usually family who does so.

                                                                2. re: pollymerase
                                                                  Muchlove RE: pollymerase Nov 21, 2011 12:17 PM

                                                                  Noone "had" to sing happy birthday in the restaurant I worked at. We waitresses liked to because it was a good excuse to get the manager to sing which was always funny. Plus it broke the evening up nicely, and you got to feel a bit warm and fuzzy if it was a very old person or a little kid or something like that.

                                                                  Not all restaurants sing anyway.

                                                                  1. re: pollymerase
                                                                    rockandroller1 RE: pollymerase Nov 23, 2011 11:29 AM

                                                                    +1, including ooing and aahing over the cake, gifts, birthday person, how clever and nice the organizer is, and whatever else is necessary.

                                                          2. re: Muchlove
                                                            Steve RE: Muchlove Nov 21, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                            I hope they are paying royalties on Singing "Happy Birthday"......

                                                            Some franchised restaurants, to avoid royalties, sing their own Happy Birthday song.


                                                      2. re: escondido123
                                                        Motosport RE: escondido123 Nov 21, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                        The last time I did this it was my anniversary dinner. There were 10 of us. I surprised my wife with the same cake we had at our wedding, a Junior's strawberry cheese cake with our original bride and groom on top. She cried, our female guests cried, even the server cried. I guess I am a sentimental guy. No cakeage charge.

                                                        1. re: Motosport
                                                          freia RE: Motosport Nov 21, 2011 11:26 AM

                                                          Aw that's awesome! Woot to that restaurant!

                                                      3. l
                                                        LeoLioness RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 11:49 AM

                                                        I find it strange to bring in food to a restaurant and I don't see why a "birthday cake" gets a pass... If the restaurant wants to charge people for this practice, I see nothing wrong with that.

                                                        1. a
                                                          alwayshungrygal RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                          I've read all the replies (whew! it got a little contentious there) and noted that many respondents said that the restaurant would make money off the appetizers, wine etc ordered by the guests. I can only say that I went to a baby shower many years ago (I posted about this event on another thread about etiquette) where a cake was brought in and it was a LUNCH. No wine, no apps, just a semi-casual lunch. I was not involved in the planning, never saw the check so don't know if there was a cakage charge. But get this--the restaurant is noted for their mile-high desserts, showcased in a deli case near the reception stand. No reason to bring in a cake except that it would have been inscribed to the mother-to-be.

                                                          As an aside, I work for a catering company that is exclusive to a particular venue. Clients often try to bring in food and beverage without our knowledge. It is definitely a loss of revenue for us when this happens, and we do charge corkage when we make an exception to our policy. I think with advance notice, any restaurant could easily replicate (or order in) a particular cake for a party. You might pay more, but that could be done. It is definitely unsupportable for a guest to bring in an item that the restaurant does serve.

                                                          A nominal cakage charge is definitely OK, same as wine corkage, if the restaurant in question serves either. I would not think less of a restaurant that wanted to charge cake/cork-age when appropriate.

                                                          1. Withnail42 RE: dryrain Nov 21, 2011 04:17 PM

                                                            If the restaurant doesn't offer birthday cake then when gauge the customers who want to spend in you establishment. Especially since some parties and be a decent size and rack up a large bill.

                                                            A while back we went to Maz Mezcal NYC no 'cakeage' charges and they could not have been more accommodating. Even got a sombrero out of the deal!

                                                            1. h
                                                              Harters RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 06:12 AM

                                                              "In London at St Johns they charge £7.40 per person if you have slice of your own cake."

                                                              That's St John for you. They're clearly intending this to be a deterrent as it is slightly higher than their dessert prices.

                                                              1. k
                                                                khuzdul RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 10:38 AM

                                                                I think as a restaurant which has been listed in the "Top 50 restaurants in the World" by Restaurant magazine since 2004, also having just earned one Michelin star in 2009 (and trying for a second star), which specifically advertises (including in large print on their window) that they operate a bakery and who also advertises that for large groups that they are willing to make a "bespoke" menu, keeping in mind that their on-menu in-house deserts are £7.20, that:

                                                                1) At 0.20 more for "forkage" fee, it is really their way of discouraging the practice but allowing enough flexibility for people who really really want to bring in their own deserts. (ie it is really not ok with the restaurant management to bring the cake in).

                                                                2) it is reasonable for this specific restaurant to charge a "forkage" fee and one of that amount, not only to recoup costs of not making a sale, overhead costs and table turnover opportunity costs, but also to try to control their dining room environment for their other diners, because the controlled dining experience is the type of place it is that is the type of place they want to be and that is the type of experience/ambiance that a lot of their customers are expecting to be eating in.

                                                                15 Replies
                                                                1. re: khuzdul
                                                                  freia RE: khuzdul Nov 22, 2011 10:46 AM

                                                                  Why don't they just come out and say it? That's what I don't understand. If it really isn't ok with the management to bring in a cake, and they are trying for another star or whatever, then just say "we don't offer a cakeage option". Now, if they allow it in their private rooms so as not to "offend" the other guests (aka out of sight out of mind), then I still think the cakeage fee is outrageous. Preferable to just say no I think rather than the passive aggressive answer of OH YES please DO by the way its going to cost 15 dollars extra a person for a fork and plate....

                                                                  1. re: freia
                                                                    khuzdul RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 10:57 AM

                                                                    To me, for all the things I posted, this specific restaurant is being upfront, coming out and saying that they strongly prefer that customers do not bring in their own deserts, but if they really want to they can.

                                                                    1. re: freia
                                                                      chowser RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 11:11 AM

                                                                      To make sure that people who want it, REALLY do want it. If a restaurant is to capacity, a bunch of people sitting around and not eating anything they're selling is a huge loss of revenue. But, if they're paying what they'd pay to eat the restaurant food, the restaurant can recoup the cost. Most places that charge a large cake cutting fee are fine dining places and having a large table sit for an extra hour is a big loss which many can't afford. Some people might have that special occasion cake, for whatever reason, and be wiling to pay the extra. I think of it like a corkage fee--you'd better bring a great bottle of wine if there is a sommelier who has come up w/ the wine list. They can't specify that you can only bring a certain type of wine, or a certain type of cake. But, if they charge enough, they can discourage you from bringing a bottle of Beringer's white zinfandel or a Costco cake without drawing the line. Anyone want to pay $50 for them to open and serve that bottle?

                                                                      I think it's a different issue when the restaurant is very casual and has room and those often will take the big party for the added revenue and deal w/ the cake as a way. And, there are plenty of restaurants that encourage you to bring your own wine if they don't have service. But, those restaurants that do charge for either generally want to discourage people from bringing their run of the mill stuff.

                                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                                        freia RE: chowser Nov 22, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                                        That's a good point, about extra time. Hopefully those with cakes aren't bringing in a truckload of gifts too, because that definitely would turn the restaurant from a dining establishment into, well, a community center for lack of a better descriptive term.

                                                                        1. re: freia
                                                                          soupkitten RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                                          thanks, Chowser, for mentioning that it isn't just washing a few extra plates and forks, is it? indeed, it tends to all run together-- the homemade cake, the hour of coffee refills, and the gifts. sometimes another birthday party, with a reservation, is left waiting for the first group to finish their celebration... talk about a can't win situation.

                                                                          as others have said, it depends on the restaurant. customers can find venues that are okay with the whole cake ritual. most restaurants are pragmatic enough to recognize that this special request will be a time and staffing hiccup. i think forkage in general is a reasonable and expected charge, like corkage-- to recoup the revenue loss and to discourage outright abuse of the venue wrt outright camping--i like Freia's apt description of a "community center" atmosphere. places that charge forkage are not "unfriendly," it's just their policy-- that's probably designed to benefit the majority of their customers.

                                                                          and, i think that for folks who think bringing a penis-shaped cake into a restaurant for their bachelorette celebration is very "special. . ." well, can somebody make them pay double-forkage?!? ;-P

                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                            freia RE: soupkitten Nov 22, 2011 03:15 PM

                                                                            depends how big the cake is? LOLOLOL now that's kind of OTT LOL

                                                                            1. re: freia
                                                                              soupkitten RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 03:42 PM

                                                                              i thought i would put it out there, actually (trying to be humorous rather than in anybody's face) because some folks (not anybody contributing here, we are all well-mannered and charming) will bring in whatever they like to a restaurant and expect to be accommodated, regardless of whether it's appropriate or obnoxious or offensive to other guests of the restaurant. the penis cake bachelorette party has happened, i assure you. i will leave it to everyone's imagination, but there is a little less mayhem in restaurants that have a "forkage" policy.

                                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                freia RE: soupkitten Nov 22, 2011 03:58 PM

                                                                                See, that's totally out of line IMHO. Gotta call ahead, ask if it is OK, be specific about what you'd like to do, and go from there And if the restaurant says NO then make your decision, and if they YES for X dollars per person and its a bit steep, then you can make your decision. But to just show up with the expectation that the restaurant will automatically be OK with everything is kind of OTT...
                                                                                I can just imagine how tough an evening would have been for all the staff, all around....

                                                                      2. re: freia
                                                                        cowboyardee RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 01:22 PM

                                                                        "the cakeage fee is outrageous. Preferable to just say no I think rather than the passive aggressive answer of OH YES please DO by the way its going to cost 15 dollars extra a person for a fork and plate"
                                                                        I don't find it passive aggressive of a restaurant to charge a hefty fee for a service they don't like to provide and are under no obligation to provide. That's capitalism.

                                                                        In lieu of the fact that the place in question is a nice restaurant that takes pride in it's pastry, I don't find the fee outrageous at all. If you want to eat cake there, call in advance and ask if they'll make one for you, or at least put candles in and make a presentation of one of their dessert options. If your cake is so special or traditional that you absolutely must bring it in, then why shouldn't you have to pay out the nose a little bit for the privilege?

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                          freia RE: cowboyardee Nov 22, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                          Key words there: "pay out the nose"... I rest my case! Sad to think that this is how restauranteurs would view their patrons. Unfortunately, if a patron feels that they are looked down in this manner, they will and do vote with their feet.
                                                                          And didn't you find Motosport's story just a little bit touching? Cases like that are so great to hear, and represent moments that you can't get the usual pastry chef to replicate easily if at all. And to think that his story was viewed as a cash grab opportunity for a restaurant with the POV you detailed? Kind of sad I think...

                                                                          1. re: freia
                                                                            cowboyardee RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                                            Disagree 100%. It's a business deal. They decide what it's worth to them for a patron to publicly snub their pastry chef. You decide whether that's worth it to you. If it's not, there are plenty of other restaurants. No reason to go all sour grapes and think hate on the restaurant for it.

                                                                            And as I pointed out above, there are plenty of people, both restaurant workers and laypersons like myself, who think that bringing a cake to a place with a good pastry chef is in poor taste, esp when people think it's their right to do so AND decide what's a fair price to pay.

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                              invinotheresverde RE: cowboyardee Nov 22, 2011 02:45 PM


                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                                freia RE: invinotheresverde Nov 22, 2011 03:17 PM

                                                                                I guess I live in a different part of the world, huh. I still think Motosport's story was nice, even though the restaurant didn't charge through the nose for the privilege and didn't make its maximum possible profit that night. I wonder how we quantify the "nice things" that are done for us at restaurants...must lie solely in the amount of money made at the end of the day.
                                                                                I like my part of the world...

                                                                                1. re: freia
                                                                                  cowboyardee RE: freia Nov 22, 2011 08:40 PM

                                                                                  I think motorsport's story was nice too. But not because I think restaurants are under some obligation to bend themselves to a customers every whim.

                                                                                  It's not necessarily about the bottom line either, though even if it were, that would be a perfectly good reason for a restaurant to enforce a policy. In this case it's probably more about limiting a practice that is sort of insulting.Try the house's pastry - if they care enough to try to steer customers into ordering it, it's probably really good and worthy of a special occasion.

                                                                                2. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                                  babette feasts RE: invinotheresverde Nov 22, 2011 04:18 PM


                                                                                  You DO NOT want to publicly snub the pastry chef!!! Haven't you seen Top Chef just Desserts? Don't you know we're all crazy? ; )

                                                                      3. l
                                                                        lyri RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 12:02 PM

                                                                        The place where I work started charging a $15 flat fee for bringing in a cake. I think it's more than reasonable, especially considering how much goes into the whole ordeal. It's not about the singing, that's irrelevant. It's everything else. On average, a table with a cake will stay 30 to 45 minutes longer than another table, that's money right there, especially considering we are a high-volume restaurant with a constant waiting list. Not to mention the washing of dishes, and the loss of the dessert sale.

                                                                        Most people have been quite understanding about the new fee, but for some, it means "there goes your tip". We've had more than one customer say that to one of our servers, even when we are instructed (and usually follow-through on) telling the customer about the fee as soon as we see the cake. As a hostess, I let the person know outside, during their wait, in case they want to run with the cake back to the car, or decide just to not cut the cake and keep it in the box, or heck, choose another restaurant.

                                                                        I think £7.40 per person is absurd, but overall, a "cakeage" or "forkage" fee makes just as much sense as a corkage fee.

                                                                        1. Ditdah RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 01:12 PM

                                                                          I've read all these posts, and even though we certainly don't need more opinions here, I thought I'd share mine. (What's a discussion board for, if not to discuss?) I think it really depends on the restaurant as to whether or not they should allow you to bring in your own cake (or if you should even ask.) A fine-dining establishment with a pastry chef or baker onsite? It's tacky and rude to even ask, and should be highly discouraged. (I also don't think of these as the type of places where the servers should be singing to you, regardless of where the dessert comes from. That's not appropriate for this atmosphere.)

                                                                          A more casual restaurant, who either has very few desserts or none at all, where it's common to see families with children dining, and a birthday celebration would not be out of place or disruptive? I don't see much of a problem with it. But it needs to be pre-arranged, and whatever fee is asked for by the restaurant (even an 'unreasonable' one) is acceptable. If the patron doesn't like it, they should go elsewhere. If the restaurant doesn't want to allow it at all, they should say so.

                                                                          We celebrated a birthday for three family members this past weekend at a local family-owned pizzeria. It's not a delivery type place; it's a sit-down, order off menus, casual family restaurant. For dessert, they only serve cheesecake and chocolate cake by-the-slice, purchased frozen from a restaurant supply store. They say they only have those on site for people that insist on dessert, but they let people know they aren't homemade, as the rest of their food is.

                                                                          We wanted to bring in a birthday cake, and asked them if it was ok. They said it was no problem. We did not ask them to hold the cake for us somewhere, we placed it at an empty seat at the table. (Which we included in the original guest count.) We did not ask them to cut or serve it, and certainly not to sing for us, all we asked was that we be allowed to have some plates and silverware to use when we ate it. We offered to pay them for the trouble, and they refused any fee. However, we did tip well - the bill was a little over $500, and they got a $150 tip. (To be honest, we would have still tipped this much with a "forkage" fee - we always tip 30% on the bill when we have a large gathering, unless the service was just horrific.)

                                                                          I don't have a problem with what we did. But, I wouldn't have batted an eye if they said "no, you can't bring in that cake." I would have said "I understand, thanks!" and still had my dinner there, and then gone home or elsewhere for the dessert. It was easier to stay where we were, and I appreciated them letting us do so.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Ditdah
                                                                            Missmoo RE: Ditdah Nov 23, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                            Great response! I totally agree with you!

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            smartie RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 03:21 PM

                                                                            just out of interest, who do you sue if one or some or all of your party get sick at a restaurant where you had brought in your own cake? Does the restaurant have the party sign a disclaimer prior to eating? How would anybody know if the cake was to blame or the restaurant's own poor practices?

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: smartie
                                                                              invinotheresverde RE: smartie Nov 22, 2011 04:02 PM

                                                                              I dealt with an issue like this personally. I'd mentioned it in another post, but it was deleted.

                                                                              A table brought in a whole cheesecake to the restaurant I worked at (even though we served cheesecake). When I opened the box, the cake had a 1" thick ring of mold around the bottom of it. The host freaked out when I showed her and blamed us (it was in our walk-in for all of 90 minutes). She made a huge scene, yelling loudly enough for other tables to hear about how unhygienic, etc. the restaurant was. They bought one of our cheesecakes instead and basically stiffed their waiters. Even though the fault wasn't ours, it was an uncomfortable situation that could've been completely avoided.

                                                                              This is just another example (in the long line of many) why I think it's unacceptable to bring your own food to a restaurant.

                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                                khuzdul RE: invinotheresverde Nov 23, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                                                I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV....

                                                                                As invinotheresverde mentioned, consumption of outside food and drink items in restaurants is in violation of health regulations in many areas, in part due to the difficulty of tracking down food illnesses, and other issues such as potential cross-contamination.

                                                                                As for who you sue, that depends on the type of person you are, the type of lawyer you hire and where you file the suit. In the US, it is easy to add people to the paperwork before you file a suit. It becomes much harder to add someone after the suit is in progress. It is easy to drop someone from an ongoing lawsuit. For this reason, in the US, attorneys tend to sue everyone up front so as not to worry about any statue of limitations and so as not to have to try to either add someone to a lawsuit or file a new lawsuit altogether. Then as they get more facts, the plaintiffs can drop people they agree have no liability (though the people dropped still can be facing a hefty legal bill for their defense up to that point).

                                                                                A thorough lawyer at the very least would probably sue the cake maker, the place that the cake was bought from, the person who bought the cake, the restaurant where the cake was consumed, any servers who handled the cake. The restaurant and server can then go down two different paths.

                                                                                1 - They can challenge the facts of the case and deny all responsibility. (the party did not really get sick, the party did get sick but it was not food poisoning, the party did get sick but not from anything consumed at the restaurant but from items consumed at other establishments before or after)
                                                                                2 - They can put forward an affirmative defense where they accept the facts of the case but limit their liability. In the affirmative defense, they could use the third party cake. (the party did get sick and from eating at the restaurant, but because the item that got them sick was a third party cake that the party brought in and visibly looked fine, the restaurant and the server'ls liability is limited to 0)

                                                                            2. Veggo RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 04:27 PM

                                                                              7.4? Brings new meaning to pound cake. How much is charged across the channel for Euro cake?

                                                                              1. f
                                                                                fourunder RE: dryrain Nov 22, 2011 05:49 PM

                                                                                Can someone please explain.......

                                                                                Why is it okay to bring your own food into a restaurant where you have to pay to eat....but it is not okay to bring food to a house when you are an invited guest in someone's home where the food is presumably free? Based on recent discussions here on CH.......the practice is considered rude for the latter, so why is it okay to do so in a restaurant, as opined by some.

                                                                                44 Replies
                                                                                1. re: fourunder
                                                                                  pollymerase RE: fourunder Nov 22, 2011 09:54 PM

                                                                                  Brilliant observation!

                                                                                  1. re: fourunder
                                                                                    viperlush RE: fourunder Nov 23, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                                                    Simple. Because in the former you are a PAYING CUSTOMER. The restaurant wants your business, you are paying to eat at their establishment, therefore you can bring what you want. Remember the customer is always right. In the latter you are a GUEST. And as a guest it is rude to imply that your HOST can't provide ample/adequate food by bringing your own.

                                                                                    Personally I think that it is stupid to bring a cake to a restaurant that serves great desserts. You are limiting yourself to just one dessert. Have dessert at the restaurant and then have the cake at home.

                                                                                    1. re: viperlush
                                                                                      fourunder RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 09:51 AM



                                                                                      With due respect,

                                                                                      I don't think so, and I couldn't disagree with you more on everything in your first paragraph You most certainly cannot bring in anything you want into a restaurant....by policy, and or, state or local statute.....and I definitely do not believe the customer is always right..... By your view, a customer could walk into a restaurant when dining with others, order a beverage and pop out his or her own salad or sandwich without ordering anything else since they are a paying customer.

                                                                                      With regards to being a guest.....food brought to someone else house is also a gift, along the line of a bottle of wine. The host can choose to serve it or not. I've had many guest to my home where they brought something to share with everyone else. Not once did I view it as an implication I couldn't provide for my guests.......Are you telling me its rude to bring a dessert or a tray of cookies too.....or does that fall into an exclusionary category.

                                                                                      1. re: fourunder
                                                                                        viperlush RE: fourunder Nov 23, 2011 10:24 AM

                                                                                        <Can someone please explain.......>

                                                                                        Just trying to give you an answer based on the impression that I got from the posts on this thread and on those recent discussions that you mentioned. Guess I need to work on being more sarcastic. Personally I agree with what you wrote.

                                                                                        1. re: viperlush
                                                                                          fourunder RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 10:35 AM


                                                                                          Thanks for coming back with that. Enjoy the holiday.

                                                                                        2. re: fourunder
                                                                                          gaffk RE: fourunder Nov 23, 2011 10:30 AM

                                                                                          I once started a thread which the mods pulled . . . but I'll tell the bizarre story again and see if it sticks this time.

                                                                                          This past spring I took my mom to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This show is huge in the city and brings in a lot of visitors (and as a result, all restaurants in the area of the convention center are packed). We had reservations at a very nice restaurant. A group of four women were seated at the table next to ours shortly after we arrived. The odd thing though, was that only three place settings were provided. Then I noticed the fourth woman had a McDonald's cup with her. The three other women ordered wine, appetizers and entrees while the fourth repeatedly dove into her discretely placed McD's bag to pull out burgers.

                                                                                          It made for an interesting evening, but to this day I cannot understand: 1) what this woman was thinking bringing McDonald's into a fine dining establishment; 2) why the three other women tolerated it (I would have been mortified); and 3)why the restaurant tolerated it.

                                                                                          I guess some on this board would say the restaurant tolerated it because the other three were ordering wine, appetizers and entrees (and maybe dessert . . .we left by then). But I don't know that I would have allowed it if I were running the restaurant.

                                                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                                                            viperlush RE: gaffk Nov 23, 2011 10:41 AM

                                                                                            Funny that it was McDonalds. The one time that I ate outside food in a restaurant it was McDonalds. Hotel restaurant in London early 90's when I was 10. My parents were heading to the restaurant to eat while my bro and I were heading towards the elevator to go eat our McDonalds in our room. Maître de waved us over and said that we could eat w/our parents. Even gave us a place setting and brought catsup. Unexpected, but nice.
                                                                                            Another story that I've shared on Chowhound involves my cousin and McDonalds. They were visiting us in London and we were heading to a dim sum place that my mom found and wanted to take us to. I was excited because she had been promising to take me. My teenage cousin decided that he wanted McDonalds instead. Since they were the guests, guess where we went for lunch. So for those ladies tolerating the McDonalds might have been their only option if they wanted to eat at that restaurant.

                                                                                            1. re: viperlush
                                                                                              gaffk RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 10:46 AM

                                                                                              If that McDonald's woman was 10, I may have understood.

                                                                                              Then again, maybe not. At 10, I was expected to eat at the same restaurant as my parents . . . and like it.

                                                                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                viperlush RE: gaffk Nov 23, 2011 10:59 AM

                                                                                                Don't worry, we gladly ate at the same restaurant as our parents w/out eating of the kids menu. But after weeks of carry out while packing the house and weeks of eating hotel food we were probably just sick of it and wanted a reason to leave the hotel. Apparently I made a good impression on workers at that hotel by my ability to eat vast quantities of caviar as a snack and the damage that I did to the raw bar at brunch(?).

                                                                                                She is probably "that friend". And it wasn't worth the time or energy to fight the McDonalds. Or, they are use to her quirkiness and love her so much that the McDonalds truly didn't bother her. As the restaurant I would just hate having the smell in the dining room.

                                                                                                1. re: viperlush
                                                                                                  gaffk RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                                                                  I suppose after weeks of hotel foods, McDonalds would look like an oasis to a ten year old.

                                                                                                  Oddly, even though we were at the next table, I didn't notice the McD's smell . . . maybe because there were no fries.

                                                                                                  I just related the experience to underline that idea that as a paying customer, you can bring in anything you want. Although admittedly bizarre, it didn't interfere with our enjoyment of the wonderful food and wine in front of us.

                                                                                            2. re: gaffk
                                                                                              chowser RE: gaffk Nov 23, 2011 01:21 PM

                                                                                              My daughter had a tea party at the Ritz Carlton one year. One of the moms packed a special bag for her daughter--cheetos, juice box, etc. in case she didn't like the food. I didn't know what to do since I didn't want to tell her it was rude as it was her mom approved. I ordered her a kids tea (close to $20) which, sadly, sat untouched while she ate her cheetos. She was also the only child who didn't sit still and was trying to dance all over the floor (which I put a stop to). She's also the only child whose mom brags about how easy she is to bring to restaurants and how well behaved she is.

                                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                                gaffk RE: chowser Nov 23, 2011 01:51 PM

                                                                                                I suspect this mother knew her daughter wouldn't eat the "fancy" Ritz food. She really should have just declined the invite (I would have happily taken her place).

                                                                                                I have a friend whose son will eat nothing but hot dogs, chicken nuggets and french fries. I have another friend who won't eat any place she deems "fancy"--that seems to include any place with table cloths or "strange" ingredients like arugula or duck. I suspect she was raised on hot dogs and fries.

                                                                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                  chowser RE: gaffk Nov 23, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                                                                  The thing is the kids afternoon tea is kid friendly food--hot chocolate, peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, little cakes. Nothing unusual but it was her immediate assumption that her daughter wouldn't eat it and should be coddled that bothered me. I agree that she should have declined but I think she thinks it's perfectly fine to do that, not that it's rude. I suspect that's just normal practice when they eat out, just as it's normal practice for her daughter to dance all over the floor, or at least try.

                                                                                            3. re: fourunder
                                                                                              escondido123 RE: fourunder Nov 23, 2011 01:04 PM

                                                                                              I stopped by the local French Bakery for a croissant to go at 11. It wasn't busy but people were beginning to order lunch. The man ahead of me ordered a couple of sandwiches--maybe $20 tops for the two--and then asked for a mug of hot water. "I brought my own tea," he said. Staring him in the face was a sign listing the many teas they carry.....I thought it was gauche for him to bring his own rather than pay the $1.50 for theirs.

                                                                                              1. re: escondido123
                                                                                                chowser RE: escondido123 Nov 23, 2011 01:22 PM

                                                                                                If it had been a woman, I would have thought it might be my mom. I've tried to explain she shouldn't do that but she says they have no idea what she's doing. Yeah, you order a cup of hot water, they know what you're doing, they just don't say anything.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser
                                                                                                  Kitchen Imp RE: chowser Dec 4, 2011 10:16 PM

                                                                                                  Just for the record, I had a friend in grad school who often ordered a cup of hot water, and would proceed to sip it -- plain -- while the rest of us had tea or coffee. She just liked hot water. I thought it was bizarre, but to each her own. The thing that irked me was that she didn't offer to pay for it , and yet she was using their cup and, often, their tiny teapot of hot water, which they would have to wash after we left. I guess this is sort of the anti-corkage (since she wasn't bringing anything in and it was something that was apparently free), but it seems to me that they should have charged her *something* for it.

                                                                                                  1. re: Kitchen Imp
                                                                                                    chowser RE: Kitchen Imp Dec 5, 2011 04:37 AM

                                                                                                    There were people who did it when I worked at McD's when I was in high school. I honestly couldn't have cared less if they added their own tea bag or just drank the water but yes, the company is losing money. I guess as long as the person is ordering something else, they are probably not losing money? I know someone who was selling little packs of coffee for her kids and her spiel was that you'd save $3 at Starbucks if you just asked for a cup of hot coffee w/ a biscotti. It seemed wrong to me.

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                      freia RE: chowser Dec 5, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                                                                      I recall going to a coffee shop with friends for takeout coffee/tea. I wanted hot water for tea -- I had my own brown rice/green tea bags that I prefer at work. Since we have no (clean) microwave and since going out was a social thing, I thought I'd order a tea, with the teabag on the side, take it to my office and pop in my own teabag. But it wouldn't occur to me NOT to pay for the water/cup. So I ordered a large tea with the tea bag on the side. Quite happy to pay for it all. I'd take the teabag (packaged one, as in Earl Grey's single packs) back to the office or home or leave it there or whatever. And that's how I ordered it: "one large tea please, teabag on the side". Server says "we can't do that". I said "why not?". And server says "Its not tea if there's no teabag in the cup". I said "I want to put the teabag in when I get to my office". She says "Oh...would you like the teabag on the side?" I said "yes, please!" and the server says "well, then its not tea, its hot water and a tea bag". I said, "i'll pay for the tea. Its no problem. But I'd like to dunk my own teabag". She says "But you have to order tea:". So I say "OK, I'll have large tea please". She gets the cup and the hot water and the sealed tea bag serving, and I say "Wait! Can you just leave the bag closed? I'd like to put it in when I get to my office". She says "SURE!". So I get the hot water, takeout cup, with the teabag on the side, pay for it, and get to have my tea the way I like it. I wouldn't expect free hot water and a mug. But it was funny that having the bag on the side made no sense to the server!

                                                                                                      1. re: freia
                                                                                                        JReichert RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 07:37 AM

                                                                                                        I doubt I would have been that kind.

                                                                                                        Years ago, I worked somewhere that only allotted 30 minutes for lunch. One day my husband was waiting to take me out and we sped down the road to Taco Bell, where we ordered that 10-taco/burrito deal. We had it very plainly split up, 4 hardshell, 3 softshell, 3 burritos (or something like that). The lady taking our order was elderly and she couldn't comprehend how 4 + 3 + 3 equaled 10. I even resorted to holding up my hands, as I would to a child, to tick off what we ordered. She kept insisting the quantity was 11 and not valid for the deal and argued with us. I broke down crying, because she was wasting my paltry lunch time and just frustrating me in general. She finally said, "Oh, it is 10." !! Gah! Wouldn't the computer show that 10 items had been entered, even??

                                                                                                        That's perhaps the angriest I've ever been at a fast food employee.

                                                                                                        1. re: JReichert
                                                                                                          alkapal RE: JReichert Dec 5, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                                                                          so sad that a lady with dementia has to work in a freaking fast food place.


                                                                                                          let's take a step back when we go to these places. these people need their jobs. i'm not excusing any instances of stupidity, but i do expect some grace from everyone.

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                            JReichert RE: alkapal Dec 5, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                                                            I get what you're saying, but she seemed competent in everything else she was doing - just not with the numbers. Didn't mean to make it seem like I regularly blow up on old folks. I would have been equally pissed had it been some teenager or anyone else -it was simply the situation as a whole.

                                                                                                            In retrospect, I would have just conferred privately with my husband about how silly the situation was, were I not working within such time costraints and for such a heartless corporation where I truly could not be late. Plus, I was a lot younger then - I've mellowed some with age. : )

                                                                                                            1. re: JReichert
                                                                                                              alkapal RE: JReichert Dec 5, 2011 11:57 AM

                                                                                                              no, JR, please don't take it personally; it was not directed at you… i just feel like our culture is a little quick on the trigger to jump on people who are a little less "with it" than we think they should be.

                                                                                                              please excuse me if i sounded like it was about you. it really wasn't that, but more about a general issue in our culture. sorry, jreichert. (and i am not saying that it isn't frustrating at times. yo!).

                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                JReichert RE: alkapal Dec 5, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                Not at all, just wanted to clarify - I'm having a grumpy day and I think that shows in my writing. : )

                                                                                                                1. re: JReichert
                                                                                                                  alkapal RE: JReichert Dec 6, 2011 03:13 AM

                                                                                                                  been there. done that. LOL

                                                                                                        2. re: freia
                                                                                                          Muchlove RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 07:38 AM

                                                                                                          Most cafes I have been to have had a small fee for a cup of hot water. I have made use of this many times when going out with people, as there are particular herbal teas I like that aren't widely available.

                                                                                                          At our college cafe, the lady stopped charging me after a while, just out of friendliness.

                                                                                                          1. re: freia
                                                                                                            Missmoo RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 10:27 AM

                                                                                                            That is hilarious! Similar to the Jack Nicholson bit;)

                                                                                                            1. re: freia
                                                                                                              Missmoo RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 10:28 AM

                                                                                                              That is hilarious! Similar to the Jack Nicholson bit;)

                                                                                                              1. re: freia
                                                                                                                chowser RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                Funny. Try ordering a burger, only cheese, no meat or sides on it. Really--it's not that hard but I can't tell you how hard it is to get straight. It's been years but my daughter went through a vegetarian stage and I'd say, "I just want a cheese sandwich but you don't have one so I want a cheeseburger, with only cheese." You wouldn't believe the variations we'd get.

                                                                                                                1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                  freia RE: chowser Dec 5, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                  I remember going through a drivethru at McDo's years ago, and I was with 2 other people. The conversation went like this, and I'm not exaggerating nor making this up...
                                                                                                                  McD: Hi can I take your order?
                                                                                                                  Me: Hi! We'd like one Big Mac, one Fillet O Fish, and one Quarter Pounder, 3 large fries, 3 large Cokes please
                                                                                                                  McD:OK that'll be..
                                                                                                                  (friend in the passenger side now changes her mind)
                                                                                                                  Me: Wait! So sorry, can we have the Fillet O Fish without tartare sauce?
                                                                                                                  McD: OK, so that's one Big Mac, One Fillet O fish, one Quarter Pounder, One Fillet O fish no tartar sauce, 3 large fries...
                                                                                                                  Me: NO! So sorry! That's One Big Mac, One Fillet O fish no tartar sauce, One Quarterpounder, 3 large fries, 3 large cokes
                                                                                                                  McD: OK, so thats 2 Big Macs, Two Fillet O fish's no tartar sauce, Two Quarterpounders, 6 large fries, 6 large cokes
                                                                                                                  Me: NOOOOO! Lets start again! Cancel it all! I'll have One BigMac, One Fillet o Fish no tartar sauce, One quarterpounder, 3 large fries, 3 large cokes
                                                                                                                  McD: OK, so ONE Big Mac
                                                                                                                  Me: yes!
                                                                                                                  McD: ONE Fillet of Fish
                                                                                                                  me: NO! One Fillet of Fish no tartar sauce
                                                                                                                  McD: ONE Fillet of Fish no tartar sauce
                                                                                                                  me: Yes!
                                                                                                                  McD; One Quarterpounder
                                                                                                                  me: yes!
                                                                                                                  McD: One Fillet of Fish
                                                                                                                  Me: NO! Only One Fillet of Fish no tartar sauce
                                                                                                                  McD: OK 2 fillet of fish no tartar sauce...
                                                                                                                  Me: NOOOOO!
                                                                                                                  At that point we said "forget it", drove around, parked the car, placed our order inside for takeaway.
                                                                                                                  That was 20 years ago and it still cracks me up....

                                                                                                                  1. re: freia
                                                                                                                    Ditdah RE: freia Dec 6, 2011 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                    My father prefers his coffee to be half-caf, and he loves McD's coffee. He always orders "large coffee, half regular and half decaf, with cream." Recently he did so at the drive through, and they asked him "which kind of coffee do you want on top?"

                                                                                                                    He said later if he'd been quicker to it, he would have responded, "It doesn't matter, but can you put the cream in the middle?"

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ditdah
                                                                                                                      rockandroller1 RE: Ditdah Dec 6, 2011 11:49 AM

                                                                                                                      Love it!

                                                                                                                  2. re: chowser
                                                                                                                    Veggo RE: chowser Dec 5, 2011 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                    Reminds me of a buddy years ago in a nice place:
                                                                                                                    "I'll have a hamburger."
                                                                                                                    "Sir, we don't serve hamburgers."
                                                                                                                    "Well then make it a cheeseburger."

                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                      PegS RE: chowser Dec 6, 2011 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                      Heh. I used to order breakfast at a cafeteria type place that had breakfast sandwiches for breakfast and considerably more expensive grilled cheese sandwiches during lunch. When I was craving a grilled cheese sandwich during breakfast, the smarter cashiers would charge me for toast and cheese, but with other cashiers I had to order a "breakfast sandwich with no egg, just cheese" to avoid paying the lunch grilled cheese sandwich price.

                                                                                                                    2. re: freia
                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt RE: freia Dec 5, 2011 08:09 PM

                                                                                                                      My wife, who is from the Deep South, encountered something similar in New England. She ordered "ice tea," and was told that "ice tea" was out of season, and only hot tea could be served. She then ordered hot tea and a glass of ice, and just poured the hot tea into the glass with the ice. The server was totally flabbergasted, that someone could do that.

                                                                                                                      As MissMoo commented, it was right out of "Five Easy Pieces," without the anatomical reference.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                        LeoLioness RE: Bill Hunt Dec 5, 2011 08:48 PM

                                                                                                                        Didn't that just leave her with lukewarm, watered-down tea?

                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: LeoLioness Dec 5, 2011 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                          Well, it depends on the temp of the tea, the thermal coefficient of the cup, then the amount of ice - it is relative.


                                                                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                            escondido123 RE: LeoLioness Dec 5, 2011 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                            Well yes and living in New England for decades I never came upon a place that couldn't come up with a glass of ice tea upon request.

                                                                                                                            1. re: escondido123
                                                                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: escondido123 Dec 6, 2011 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                              In wife's case, this was in Kennebunk, ME, and about two weeks after Labor Day (apparently when the "season" ends), but then again just off the Dartmouth-Hitchcock campus in Manchester, NH. She assumed that it was rather a NE thing. Maybe not?


                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                escondido123 RE: Bill Hunt Dec 6, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                                                                                                I was always amazed that ice tea was a year round drink in my neck of New England. Maybe not the same in Maine where hot tea is more appropriate for most of the year.

                                                                                                                                1. re: escondido123
                                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: escondido123 Dec 7, 2011 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                                  Now, I grew up in a semi-tropical environment, so was used to ice tea being available year-around. However, there were days, when I would not have ordered it, as a mulled wine would have seemed more appropriate.

                                                                                                                                  Still, imagine a warm Indian Summer day, when dining al fresco with the Autumn sun shining brightly, and maybe an ice tea WOULD have tasted good.

                                                                                                                                  I am a big fan of Port (wine), but I would not want a glass, on the upper deck in the AZ Summertime, even with the misting system going full-tilt. I think of it more in cooler weather, but would never deny a guest, who wanted a copita of Taylor 1985, even on a Summer night.


                                                                                                                2. re: escondido123
                                                                                                                  cowboyardee RE: escondido123 Nov 23, 2011 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                  I had a friend who was thrown out of a Friendly's (East Coast ice cream chain) many years ago for taking out his own gallon of ice cream and eating it with obvious enjoyment.

                                                                                                                  Then again, he was a bored and mischievous high school student at the time, and he was trying to be a dick.

                                                                                                              2. re: viperlush
                                                                                                                invinotheresverde RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                Those first few sentences are a joke, right?

                                                                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                                                                                  viperlush RE: invinotheresverde Nov 23, 2011 10:45 AM

                                                                                                                  Unfortunately some will agree with it. But yes, I intended for it to be a joke.

                                                                                                                  1. re: viperlush
                                                                                                                    invinotheresverde RE: viperlush Nov 23, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                    Sorry. Hard to tell sometimes.

                                                                                                            2. rockandroller1 RE: dryrain Nov 23, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                                                              I agree with others - the fee is steep and is sending a message. If you don't like that message, don't bring in cake. I think restaurants have every right to ask for a "cakeage" fee.

                                                                                                              I've probably waited tables on 30 or 40 parties with cakes and of the ones that brought in cakes from outside, every single time, it was a cheap grocery store cake. Yes, maybe it had the person's name on it, but it's not like it's Nonna's special recipe or the mars frosted caterpillar or whatever. People don't want to pay for dessert at the restaurant, they think it's too expensive, so they but a super cheap cake made with super cheap ingredients and then expect the restaurant to furnish the plates, silverware, additional water, additional 45 mins to an hour of service from at least 2 servers, loss of more of that time's revenue from those tables involved in the party, sometimes singing, candles and fawning, and the loss of the dessert sale.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: rockandroller1
                                                                                                                JReichert RE: rockandroller1 Nov 25, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                I agree.

                                                                                                                A restaurant is a business, first and foremost, and if you're dining somewhere nice - anything beyond the TGI Applebee's and whatnot - there will/should be a proper pastry chef who concocts delicious treats that beat the heck out of your grocery sheetcake. If it's really so important to have a cake to share, make the request of the pastry chef - politely, of course.

                                                                                                              2. Veggo RE: dryrain Nov 28, 2011 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                Days of old: "Let them eat cake!"

                                                                                                                Modern times: "Let them pay for cake."

                                                                                                                How boringly mercantile we have become.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: Veggo Dec 4, 2011 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                  Now, if the restaurant wants to charge me "cigarage" for a few Cubans, even if I offer one to the chef, the owner and the sommelier, I might look elsewhere!


                                                                                                                2. Bill Hunt RE: dryrain Dec 4, 2011 07:39 PM

                                                                                                                  Hm-m, just like the few times that we have done a BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine), for a special event, we have also brought a few cakes.

                                                                                                                  In our cases, these have been special restaurants (frequent diners), and wines, and cakes, that are not on their menus. In each case, we have talked things over with the restaurants, and have then offered a taste (wines and cake), with the staff. None has ever charged use either a corkage fee, or a "cakage" fee.

                                                                                                                  Unless it was way off our normal restaurant choices, I would never even think of doing so, and then, only if we had discussed the full details, well in advance.

                                                                                                                  I know that does not help you, but reflects my complete experience with such things.

                                                                                                                  Good luck,


                                                                                                                  1. e
                                                                                                                    escondido123 RE: dryrain Dec 4, 2011 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                    Obviously, my experience yesterday at California Pizza Kitchen did not involve special restaurants, and wines, and cakes, that are not on their menus. But it did involve a dozen people for very late birthday lunch at CPK and my brother and his wife had a cooler with her chocolate sheet cake (homemade), paper plates and plastic forks. I have no idea if they called ahead to ask if this was ok, and since they were paying I just kept my mouth shut--for once. But I certainly wanted to ask if their tip took into account the cost of dessert on the menu, but given that they'd paid for 2 bottles of wine for the group when they don't drink at all, I just said thank you and wondered about it all the way home. (I must admit the staff at CPK didn't bat an eyelash and were gracious about the whole thing.))

                                                                                                                    1. j
                                                                                                                      JudiAU RE: dryrain Dec 4, 2011 09:31 PM

                                                                                                                      I think it is reasonable to charge. You need service items (plates, forks) and you occupy the table for more time. More than seven pounds is just a way for the restaurant to tell you that they really, really don't want you to bring your own cake. Which is reasonable too.

                                                                                                                      1. alkapal RE: dryrain Dec 5, 2011 06:02 AM

                                                                                                                        wow, that is high! they clearly don't want you to do it. their own most expensive dessert is £7.50

                                                                                                                        i've found in the suburban washington, d.c. market, the charge is around $1.50-$3.00 per person -- if they allow it. this is in my experience with planning group functions where typically the venue is preparing a set menu meal -- usually a luncheon --- for @40-50 persons and not an a la carte menu. typically also we have agreed to and confirmed a minimum amount of guests a couple of days before.

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