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taking over restaurant and CHARGE for CAKE CUTTING? Thoughts?


I'm taking over an entire restaurant /loungefor my birthday. I'm meeting their minimum fee for the night (being charged $15/pp for passed apps AND paying on consumption bar (up to a limit).

Their desserts are 12/pp - kind of high -- so said I can bring my own cake. Now, at contract time, they want to charge $50 for cake service? Something they never said before.

Thoughts? I think that's crazy - considering I'm bringing 70-80 people, meeting the $ minimum $$ made that night can offset my bill or go to them. Am I overreacting and thinking this is penny wise pound foolish?

  1. No, this is pretty common. Like a corkage fee.

    1. So will you be bringing your own plates and silverware for the cake? Will you be serving the cake and cleaning up after the 70-80 finish their cake? For that many people, $50 is a bargain, less than a dollar per person. Someone posted here awhile ago and it was the equivalent of the cost of the restaurant's dessert multiplied by the number of people.

      1. They're losing the revenue from being unable to serve their own dessert to your guests. They're making up for some of it by charging you a service fee....like a corkage fee.
        For 70-80 people? I'd consider myself lucky.

        1. Seems very reasonable to me (if not downright cheap).

          1. Color me crazy....$1500-2000 to close a restaurant for a private party is not something I would do normally.. I think you should be grateful you found a place willing to work with your budget. Many people will not have more than a drink or two., so I really do not see a big profit for the restaurant and probably why the cake charge was implemented at contract time. I'm sure they do this for everyone and did not institute it strictly for you. As others have noted, it's pretty standard today for restaurants who allow you to bring in your own cake.

            For the record, if you did a search on this topic, many will cite in their home state outside food is not allowed by code..If you look to the right on related discussions, in *charging for cakes *, it notes the restaurant charges 7.49 /Sterling per person..

            1. The whole party sounds amazingly cheap to me! As escondido says, they are serving the cake, supplying the dishes, washing the dishes, all for less that $1 per person. And $15 per person for passed apps sounds incredibly cheap!

              1. $50 flat fee for cake service fee for 80 people is really reasonable. Well below average. You should feel lucky.

                1. note the min they are charging is $4000 -- I'm only spending 1/2 of that in food, rest in drinks. But spending $4K fo night -- seemed petty to then charge $50 for cake.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: rswrsw

                    this is not meant to be personal, so please do not take it that way.....but this topic has been discussed before ....and the fact you are spending 4K does not change my view. The restaurant is there to make money plain and simple.

                    The idea that it seems petty for a restaurant to charge a nominal fee for the cost of supplying labor, plates, utensils, napkins and etc......all while not generating any income from serving desserts they have available in house.......it actually seems petty to me that a customer should expect it for free.

                    1. re: rswrsw

                      As Donnie Brasco says....

                      Forget about it. It's a night to celebrate.

                      1. re: rswrsw

                        So how much do you feel is reasonable to charge for the cake service, out of curiosity?

                        1. re: LeoLioness

                          that is not the issue -- it's advising of costs upfront!

                          1. re: rswrsw

                            I see. then my original answer stands (that this is not only reasonable but inexpensive)--I would never assume that there *wouldn't* be a cake-cutting charge if I brought in my own dessert instead of purchasing what the restaurant offered.

                            1. re: LeoLioness

                              I agree with this. A cake-cutting fee is standard. Although, if you told them during your first conversation that you were planning on bringing a cake and they did not inform you that there is a fee, then I can understand your frustration - they should have told you that when discussing all of the other costs. But if it just a matter of cake never being mentioned at all until just before contract, then I see no bad on the restaurants part. Either way, if there is a fee...there is a fee - and there almost always is.

                      2. Sorry, but the others are right. What you're paying for this, that and the other does not equal a discount just because you are spending a lot. If they charge $50 for cake service, then they charge $50 for cake service. Maybe the amount for cake service depends on how many people, because that fee takes into account all the cutting, serving, plating, the whole cake service and dishes and extra flatware, how many servers are needed to handle serving and cleaning up those dishes, etc., but as others have said, it's a legit fee that many restaurants charge.

                        This is NOT a nit on you, but I have found that your POV is seeming to be more and more common. At a retail job I recently held, I'd often encounter people who, for example, bought several pieces of expensive luggage and then were extremely mad at me when I wouldn't "throw in" a hand-held bag or give a big discount on another item they were purchasing because they "spent all that money" on the luggage. I also had this with people shopping for wedding gifts - I spent "all that money" on 2 place settings, can't you "give me a break" on the cake serving set? It's not a bazaar, it's a business and everything has a price, and that's what you pay, or agree not to pay and go elsewhere. Restaurants are the same. I chalk that mindset up to articles I've seen in magazines suggesting people "haggle" for things in stores and restaurants, which is most unfortunate.

                        Combine it with the hassle of ordering, procuring, and bringing in your own cake, maybe it's better if you just go with the restaurant's desserts? Many people skip dessert anyway, so it might not be $12PP unless you are contracted to buy dessert for everyone.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          LIsten, have no issue if I was told upfront about the fee. Then perhaps maybe I would have ordered a cake from the establishment. They just never said anything, that 's the part making me upset.

                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            in addition-- i'd never ask for extras when spending for wedding gifts or anything at retail. i just like to know upfront the cost and agree or not agree to it. that's all. Yes, they would mandate dessert pp. Just like an hummas is $10/pp.

                            1. re: rswrsw

                              You asked for opinions and got them, almost unanimous. You just don't like them.

                              Also, what's "an hummas"?

                              1. re: thegforceny

                                sorry -- passed hummus on pita at $10/pp

                                1. re: thegforceny

                                  i agree -- got opinions. I just think NYC prices are crazy. And, guess that is what happens when you make a party in NYC vs. NJ.

                                  1. re: rswrsw

                                    I am rather of the mind that it is standard in NJ as well. You bring the cake, expect them to cut and serve it, you pay for the service.
                                    Your party is no different than a wedding, and those are pretty standard, with cakes brought in. Cake cutting service fees are usual. Here is a link to a Google search about such cake cutting fees: http://tinyurl.com/cakecuttingfee

                              2. re: rockandroller1

                                I chalk that mindset up to articles I've seen in magazines suggesting people "haggle" for things in stores and restaurants, which is most unfortunate.
                                We've discussed this at work numerous times and we've all concluded that it's not the public actually but the information provided to the public and the perception over tv freebies, deep discounts news segments, reporters getting people "justice" on air, a world of daily sales and specials. Haggle is passe, going in and asking for freebies or something for nothing or something MORE for a sale to be made is what happens today. We see this all the time.

                                On topic, $50.00 is a bargain, you'll be smart to pay it, enjoy your party (very generous of you) and wind up being even more of a smart cookie the next time you plan something. I no longer leave the asking to the "person in charge" when I'm the customer because like you I like to know what I'm paying for and how much to plan for $$-wise and sometimes people are just to busy or lazy to bother making the customers life easier.

                              3. If this is a place that charges $12/dessert, then it sounds like $15/pp for passed apps is a STEAL. Most places I am familiar with charge at least that amount and limit it to one hour.

                                I understand the feeling that tacking on $50 to a $4000 bill seems petty - but it goes both ways. As others mentioned, there is cutting, serving, plates and forks to wash, etc. Plus, they may have given you a good deal on the apps assuming they would also receive revenue from desserts purchased by your guests. In any case, a cake cutting fee is very standard and, from my experience, usually a "per person" charge. Last party I threw it was $4/pp - which in your case would add up to a lot more than $50.

                                23 Replies
                                1. re: Justpaula

                                  The $12 for dessert of chocolate covered strawberries and a few cookies seemed excessive. I don't need them to cut the cake or plate it. it;'s not a wedding --- just a low key bday party. just tell me the fees upfront, not later in the contract. I don't like surprises.

                                  1. re: rswrsw

                                    When did you tell them that you were bringing in your own cake? At the time of contract?

                                    1. re: lbs

                                      when they told me, over phone, dessert would be $12/pp, then I asked what that includes -- she said maybe chocolate covered strawberries, some cookies. I said considering passed apps are $15pp per hour, that seems high. She then said you can bring in a cake as well, but never mentioned any fee. That's my frustration. Last minute items that seem /feel to me like nickel and diming. Despite that is what restaurants do, i don't often make parties -- i just like to know all costs upfront. Not surprised at time of contract.

                                      1. re: rswrsw

                                        So, when they said you could bring in a cake, what was your response at that time? Did you say you'd think about it and get back to them? Did you say then that you would be bringing a cake in?
                                        $50 seems kind of piddly to be making a big deal. Did you ask about their cake service once it was mentioned? DId you tell them that you'd be bringing in all of your own cake servers, plates, etc? The paper product alone, let alone dishes and the serving, would cost at least that. and then some.

                                        1. re: rswrsw

                                          I agree with you. The restaurant should have brought up dessert when you discussed booking. A simple, "Are you interested in dessert, we have a couple options to offer or if you are bringing something in, there will be so and so charge..." would have prevented any misunderstandings and hard feelings. That was IMHO, shortsighted on the part of the restaurant. However it is not unreasonable for them to charge extra for the cake service, which you seem to agree with.

                                          1. re: rswrsw

                                            Do you think your actual food and drink costs will hit the $4000 mark? If yes, then I agree w/ everyone else and $50 is a massive bargain. (I saw lots of $4/person cake cutting fees when I was planning a 50th) BUT if your actual costs will be less than that and you think you will be paying extra just to hit their $4000 miniumum...then I would feel rained on.

                                            I know what you mean about feeling nickel and dimed after you've spent a lot. Like dropping $400 on a hotel room and then they want to charge you a $15 "resort fee" for free local calls and a coffee maker in the room. Or want to charge you by the minute to use the internet in the business office. Seriously?

                                            1. re: rswrsw

                                              Well, she certainly should have mentioned the cake cutting fee if she was the one who brought up the possibility of you bringing in your own cake. That said, your original post makes it seem like the biggest bone you have to pick is that you are paying $4000 and they are *still* charging you $50 for the fee - in a later post you deemed that petty. That is why everyone gave you their opinions on cake cutting fees. And I think everyone has made it clear that cake cutting fees are OK. You just, unfortunately, seem to have dealt with a less-than-thorough event coordinator at the start. Sorry. I am not a tattler-type, but the only thing that may make you feel better is to advise the owner/manager (if you weren't already dealing with them...or even if you were) about what happened - just so they can make sure no future clients experience the same frustration as you.

                                              ETA: I'd like to think that this info was not intentionally withheld from you until you were ready to sign on the dotted line. As I said, the person on the phone neglected to tell you and it likely got caught at contract signing time because there is probably a spot on the actual contract where info about dessert is indicated.

                                              1. re: rswrsw

                                                "She then said you can bring in a cake as well, but never mentioned any fee. That's my frustration."

                                                Personally, I would be frustrated too, but I would take it as a learning experience so you know to ask about a plating fee. Also, the restaurant hostess didn't mention it assuming you knew about such fees.

                                                Does your negotiated price include the "tip" for the event?

                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                  no tip is 20% on top of minimum spend.

                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                    Exactly. While they are not obligated to outline every possible fee prior to contract, it is within reason that when *you tell* a customer that she can bring in her own cake, especially during a discussion of dessert prices, that you should also mention the fee attached to bringing in her own cake. If this were, say, a networking event instead of a birthday party, I could buy the angle that a cake cutting fee would be a "what-if" that may not need to be covered. But, the fact is that they were talking about bringing in a cake and it is weird that they didn't also mention the fee. Definitely a customer service failure, that probably was not even done intentionally, but definitely did cause frustration which could have been easily avoided. Certainly a learning experience for the OP, and something I would bring to the attention of the owner/manager, to ensure they learn from it too. I would hate to be a business owner who lost a party because an employee pro-actively suggested the customer bring her own cake but neglected to mention the fee.

                                                    1. re: Justpaula

                                                      I can see that, totally. It's just that the OP in several posts seemed to indicate because she was spending so much money on the evening, they should just throw this in. I get the frustration she's expressing if it's only because they didn't tell her about the fee until the last minute, which it seems like they did. But citing again and again how much she is paying for this, that and the other part of the meal seems to indicate that she is saying because she is paying so much, they should just throw it in, that they are "nickel and diming" her.

                                                2. re: lbs

                                                  no when we discussed dessert

                                                3. re: rswrsw

                                                  70-80 guests and $4000 for the night is just a low key bday party? Wow, I should be so lucky!

                                                  1. re: iLoveUni

                                                    not low key -- but -- it's not a wedding or something like that. I
                                                    t's a BIG birthday/ milestone -- and since I'm not married, have no kids, and life is short --h throwing myself a party. However, I am freaked a bit as I'm nervous about having/making a party and spending $$.
                                                    Thank you all for your opinions. Shocked at how many respond on this site!!
                                                    THANK YOU!

                                                    1. re: rswrsw

                                                      Great health and happiness....
                                                      You are celebrating a great milestone, as you say, and it's wonderful.

                                                      1. re: rswrsw

                                                        I am also unmarried, with no kids. I was just teasing. Must be nice to have 70-80 guests celebrate another year's passing with you. They must all love you very much. I don't even know that many people. I'd be lucky if 5 people showed up at my party. Plus no one ever responds to my posts here except, "use the search function". :rolleyes: BTW congrats.

                                                        1. re: iLoveUni

                                                          Holy moly. I was also thinking, "Damn, if I could get fifteen people together, I would be lucky!". And, being that I am married, and a stay-at-home-mother of a two year old, I was also thinking, "How can I score an invite to this party?"

                                                          Anyway, I guess a lot of people feel that if you have four grand to throw yourself a birthday party, don't complain about a measly $50 more. But, I get that is not the point. However, take it as a lesson learned (and one to be shared with your friends) and just enjoy yourself and the company of your friends, and what I hope will be some very delicious appetizers and drinks.

                                                          1. re: Justpaula

                                                            Would you discuss the cost of your party with your guests? Your (and one to be shared with your friends) comment surprised me.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              No. The OP said she hasn't thrown many parties so maybe her friends haven't either. I wouldn't need to share the cost to say to a friend during a casual conversation, especially if the subject of throwing a party comes up, "Hey, did you know places charge cake cutting fees?" or a general advisement to make sure to ask about everything up front.....you get the idea. I am not suggesting she stand up make an announcement to all the guests at her party about what happened when planning the party, LOL.

                                                              1. re: Justpaula

                                                                It's not like they added the charge after the party. It is my understanding that when it was brought up at the contract signing, that she was bringing her own cake, they told her about the cake fee. She could have said, "no thanks" and purchased their desserts, or just pay the $50, which is much lower cost than purchasing their desserts.
                                                                The restaurant is a business. They have costs. and fees to cover those costs. Cake cutting fee is normal.

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  I agree with you on cake cutting fees. They are standard and perfectly okay with me (but there are probably a lot of people who don't know this is a normal fee). The OP did mention somewhere on this thread that during an earlier phone conversation with the establishment, she was discussing desserts and when she commented that she thought the cost was a little high, she was told that she could bring in her own cake, but NOT told about the fee. Which was definitely a failure in customer service, but still doesn't make there any reason why they shouldn't charge the fee.

                                                                  1. re: Justpaula

                                                                    But that was told to her when she told them that indeed she was bringing her cake. It was not charged after the fact, it was told to her before she signed the contract.
                                                                    I don't think that a restaurant has an obligation to cover every fee for every "what-if." But when they were told that she was going to bring the cake, they informed her of the (measly for that number) fee.

                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                not sure following? No i won't share cost with friends, but to manage costs, and maybe help contribute to my costs, I'm giving everyone two "birthday dollars" pink for mixed/wine, and green for beer /soda. I then pay rest. a set price per type of drink ($10 mixed/wine & $6 beer/soda). With two for everyone -- should hit limit. anything beyond 2 drinks, guest would need to purchase -- and $$ taken in by restaurant should go towards my min. hope that is clear.

                                                  2. This would be a bargain at twice the price for reasons stated in several posts above -- labor, dishes, loss of revenue,

                                                    1. I seem to be completely alone here in my point of view so am slightly wary of saying it!..but hey, I'll wade in anyway: I would DEFINITELY think the worse of a restaurant that tried to charge me a cake cutting fee in these circumstances - it would probably put me off booking with them at all. The fact is that they are guaranteed a 'full' night, with related guaranteed takings which I presume they set at a level which made it worth their while shutting to other customers, when quite possibly they would otherwise have spare capacity. They also have a captive audience for the night in terms of the bar which is where restaurants make a high mark-up. I believe that this is where they (rightly) make their profit. If you choose to bring in a cake that should be perceived as a personal item which would not be replaceable by standard restaurant fare - it might be decorated specially for you or homemade by you or someone you love.

                                                      I don't see the 'sling-in-something-for-free-in-a-shop' analogy (which I hate and would NEVER expect) as the same thing, for this reason - allowing a cake to be cut and passed round is intangible and without a fixed concrete value, unlike an object. The restaurant should be pleased to have you spending a large, fixed amount as their customer, saving them from the uncertainty of filling their tables that night, and surely it's not too much to expect them to lend you a knife without charging you $50 for the privilege! It's all about good will and customer service once the fixed price has covered their overheads and allowed them to make a profit.

                                                      31 Replies
                                                      1. re: flashria

                                                        Good will doesn't pay employees who will be working the party, flashria. I can respect that you have an opinion but this scenario is employment not volunteerism.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          But the staff costs have already been covered by the price they're charging her! when they set the price, this must include covering their overheads plus making a profit, surely, or they wouldn't do it. No one is volunteering.

                                                          1. re: flashria

                                                            I was referring to bringing in her own cake; not a cake provided by the restaurant. This is unusual and the restaurant and the OP have discussed policy on it and said that $50. would cover the cost to serve her dessert to guests. Seems reasonable to me. Not paying the $50.00 would be asking them to volunteer the dessert service. That was my point.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              there must be something I'm missing here but I can't see what that is! I'm not being deliberately obtuse but....in what sense is anything being 'volunteered' when she's paid $4000? unless we're suggesting that the staff would have gone home otherwise and they're staying specially to deal with the cake....

                                                              As pointed out below by Caroline1, she's 'leasing' their building, equipment and staff in the agreed charge, so why should it cost extra to get them to hand round a bit of cake in the time that they would be there anyway?

                                                              1. re: flashria

                                                                No not at all, flashria. My reference to volunteering is as it relates to the staff providing service to this private party. The dessert service as pointed out by others here involves more than bringing in a cake from a diff source. The party will require dessert service. The price, regardless of the actual figure the OP is spending, was based on what the restaurant was supplying and while the vagueness of the dessert discussion came later or not the restaurant has said what they intend to do and that it will cost more $50 more to have their staff cut, serve and provide it. The birthday gal has the right to say no thank you or okay. She can discuss the bill again with the restaurant before the party, she can change her mind about dessert, she can pay the 50. But whatever she decides, she's going to need to deal with the restaurant.

                                                                Frankly if this bothered me I would have called the restaurant back, met with my contact there and shared by concern and confusion over the issue. Why let it fester and bug the party girl who's spending the time and money on her guests. I don't see 50.00 an issue at all but if I did, I would deal directly.

                                                                1. re: flashria

                                                                  Did you read all of C1's point? She doesn't see the issue with 50.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Yes, I did, and I know I hijacked it slightly because she was actually arguing against my POV, but I still thought that that particular phrase really reflected what I meant. I do see what you mean, and of course the OP still has the right to negotiate/opt out, but I still think it's mean-spirited of a restaurant (given the benefits they gain from a private party as I set out above) not to just slap it on some plates and hand it round as part of the deal - or lend the birthday girl a knife and let her get on with it. I have been to many parties where this has happened so it's not *just* me being freakishly unrealistic! ;)

                                                                    1. re: flashria

                                                                      Oh more than understood there, flashria. Things don't always go the way we want for all of us. What's realistic varies, right. But talking to the restaurant before the party is still possible...

                                                                      I hope the OP has a blast.

                                                                      1. re: flashria

                                                                        "They also have a captive audience for the night in terms of the bar which is where restaurants make a high mark-up. I believe that this is where they (rightly) make their profit"

                                                                        Actually dessert has a much higher markup than liquor. This is why restaurants charge for corkage and for cake fees. I just costed out a new dessert menu with a friend and nothing cost more than 75 cents to make and nothing sold for less than $9. The $13 souffle had a food cost of 32 cents! The liquor and dessert sales are what allow restaurants to not have to charge RIDICULOUS amounts for savory food.

                                                                        Corkage/cake fees really have nothing to do with the labor, its about the lost revenue.
                                                                        The OP's decision to brong her own cake cost the restaurant about $700 in profit, a $50 cake fee is nothing.

                                                                        1. re: flashria

                                                                          flashria, the OP had 3 options, buy the restaurant's dessert at $12/pp, bring in their own cake, $50 plating fee, or no dessert. To expect to have the cake plated free is also like asking if they can bring their own chips and salsa and asked for those to be passed with the other paid ones...
                                                                          Staff does a service = a fee.

                                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                                            Thank you Quine. That was a perfect analogy.

                                                                            1. re: Quine

                                                                              but only if each task the staff does is charged separately. If the overall cost she pays is to cover the staff being there, why shouldn't they pass the cake round? what are they going to be doing otherwise? Are we saying that the $4k covers serving up to the end of the mains and then the staff stop working? I don't see how you can have that kind of a cost to cover your use of the restaurant and ALSO have each serving task charged separately. If she'd had people taking their own canapes from a buffet would they have deducted $50?

                                                                              Of course the OP had the 3 options you mention, there's no problem there, I just cannot see why it's too much to ask the staff she's already paid for to deal with the cake. Although twyst's figures above are an eye-opener.....

                                                                              1. re: flashria

                                                                                also, i do realise that she doesn't have a *right* to expect this service, and that the restaurant would be stretching a point by providing it. I'm just surprised by the sheer consensus of opinion that they wouldn't happily do this in recognition of the value of her custom when she's paid quite a large sum already. Hopefully she would think 'what a great service they've provided', give them repeat custom and spread the word among her friends, and all they've lost maximum is perhaps one run of the dishwasher. As it is they've left her thinking they've been pettily penny-pinching.

                                                                        2. re: flashria

                                                                          Flashria, you are completely missing my point! The OP is hiring a COMMITTED restaurant for the birthday party. In all areas of the U.S. that I am aware of, it is AGAINST HEALTH CODES and LAWS for a restaurant to allow food to be brought onto the premises and served to people eating there that has not been prepared in that or another HEALTH DEPARTMENT INSPECTED COMMERCIAL FOOD HANDLING establishment

                                                                          On a smaller scale, we do find that many "Mom and Pops" do allow customers to bring their own birthday cakes simply because they would rather risk being busted than offend a regular customer. Personally, I consider anyone who asks a restaurant for permission to bring their own cake to be either inconsiderate or ill informed.

                                                                          That said, in this specific case, the restaurant is barring all non-birthday party invitees from the premises for agreed-on time period. In this case, I find the $50.00 fee EXTREMELY nominal since the restaurant will most probably be setting itself up for possible fines greater than that amount if they're "caught" serving an "illegal" birthday cake.

                                                                          The OP does not name the restaurant, but I doubt it's McDonald's. The OP states there will be 70 to 80 guests, and that he is splitting that fee between food and drinks. Averaging the guest list to 75 people, that comes out to $53.33 per person for food AND drink. I have no idea if it includes tip, but I would doubt it. In this day and age when I go into sticker shock when I read the prices quoted in on-line menus for white table cloth restaurants, that sounds like one hell of a bargain to me and I have NO QUALMS about another fifty bucks for the restaurant using their china, their silverware, their premises, their risk factors for a fine, and everything else involved in return for allowing the OP to bring his/her own birthday cake.

                                                                          Personally, if I wanted to serve my own cake, I would have had the party catered at home. It's a LOT less bother, probably no more expensive, and there would be absolutely no hassle with transporting birthday presents back home with a slight buzz on after the party. But if I gave myself a birthday party (I never have), I would undoubtedly pull out all of the stops and do the cooking AND the baking myself! That would give me quality control, because I have had very bad food in very good restaurants. If you doubt me, check out my profile page.

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            But, if the OP had it at home, they would not be "taking over" a restaurant. Seems like a power trip to me, the way it's coming off here on the board. Just my opinion.

                                                                            1. re: wyogal


                                                                              To assume it's "a LOT less bother, probably no more expensive" is speculative.
                                                                              In my experience it's quite the opposite. The preparation involved in having large parities in homes is unbelievable. At the end of some of mine I'm wondering why I just didn't go to a restaurant or a hotel.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                We had a big graduation party last weekend at our house, and I was thinking the same thing.

                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                              I don't doubt you, why would I?

                                                                              If it's fear of legislation that's dictating their policy, how does having $50 help?

                                                                              I'm genuinely only arguing this from an academic point of view - it couldn't matter less in the grand scheme of things! - but it seems to me that everyone is united in thinking this is a fair charge BUT some people think it's to cover washing the plates, some people think it's for paying the staff, some people think it's in recompense for not being able to charge for puddings, and now it's in return for breaking the law! This at least implies to me that the purpose of the fee is not clear-cut. (SORRY WYOGAL THAT WAS MEANT TO BE A REPLY TO CAROLINE1)

                                                                              1. re: flashria

                                                                                and it's not really that important. When the OP said they were bringing a cake, they told him/her about the fee. Before the contract was signed. Big deal.

                                                                                1. re: flashria

                                                                                  "I'm genuinely only arguing this from an academic point of view" Oh yes, we get that, possible arguing from the academic field of English Lit.?

                                                                                  But this is the Food and Hospitality business. Many who have replied here, are or have been in this industry. I know that restaurants are sorta "magic" to people who have never worked or had detailed times of working with one (such as planning a significant event). Such people think things can happen, so easily with the mere wish, or "should be" on their part. When they find those things are more complicated , they feel let down and cheated. Sure the idea of "Taking over a restaurant" is heady stuff, ego building, even. But there are many a detail and fee on the road to that dream, ask any bride. I am sure the OP is finding that out now and it's isn't all that they expected.

                                                                                  The more the reasons are explained (and there are more than one) the more frustrated and confused the let down person becomes. We are seeing that here.

                                                                                  "Taking over a restaurant" is in all actually, renting a space with a built in caterer, catering staff and pre-existing supply of all other rentables such as glasses, chairs, tablecloths, silverware, etc. The illusion of "well If I hadn't planned this event on this day, the place would have been empty, so they should be glad and give me extras", just doesn't fly. That is why their are such things as party and event planners, to know about , plan, negotiate and check each detail.

                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  "If I wanted to serve my own cake, I would have had the party catered at home"

                                                                                  Caterers, many of them, even in a private home (I've had this experience) will not touch a cake brought from another vender.
                                                                                  The bakery delivered it and the caterer did not want to be responsible for damaging it so the bakery left it in the appropriate place and I paid an extra catering fee for them just to handle the cake.

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    I agree with much of what you said, Caroline. I just want to point out that it is just going to be passed apps and drinks. My guess it is more of a bar/lounge that offers small bites, than an actual restaurant. OP said $15/
                                                                                    pp for the apps. Which would mean guests are entitled to about $38 worth of drinks. After the drink cap is
                                                                                    reached, guests are free to buy their own - something I
                                                                                    am sure the proprietor is banking on. I know it may sound unusual to many, but I experienced many parties like this, here in NYC like the OP, when I was in my twenties.

                                                                              2. re: flashria

                                                                                Staff is there and being paid. It's a restaurant/lounge -- casual place. How hard is it to provide a knife. I think they should be happy to have my biz. I was there last friday and there were maybe 20 people there. The Friday night of my party -- they'll have 80. and 80 drinking! Beyond what min is. I guess this is in addition to my visit last friday -- had a drink at bar and we tried out some apps -- since I will have party there. They've never let me taste anything -- at comp. I totally trusting that food is okay.

                                                                                1. re: rswrsw

                                                                                  Why are you having the party there, again? It sounds like you have found fault with a number of things already.

                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                    I'm fully expecting to hear after the party.......short pour.

                                                                                  2. re: rswrsw

                                                                                    "How hard is it to provide a knife." I imagine you're expecting the restaurant to provide you with plates and forks as well. So think of it this way: you have to pay to have them washed. It's a small charge to cover additional costs the restaurant will incur as a result of you bringing in your cake. And they did tell you up front, before you signed the contract. So just forget about it and enjoy your night. Don't let the little things get to you.

                                                                                    1. re: rswrsw

                                                                                      I'd be more concerned with a place that has only 20 people on a Friday night than $50 cake fee.

                                                                                2. re: flashria

                                                                                  my thoughts exactly. they are charging me
                                                                                  -$15/pp for passed apps PER HOUR -- i'm doing 1.5 hrs for $22,50
                                                                                  - then balance is for bar -- i'm using ticket system
                                                                                  *pink ticket- wine/mixed (and begged to include smirnoff- as that certainly is not top shelf) - $10 for redeemed tickets
                                                                                  * green ticket- beer/soda (they charge $6 beer/$4 soda - but to make things easy -- giving $6 for each green ticket redeemed) -- so they make extra money here and yet still had plate fee
                                                                                  and $6 for beer/soda -- totally making a huge mark-up. I'm using tickets -- $6 for beer & soda -- soda is usually $4 if someone pays at bar, but i've agreed that on soda/beer ticket- i'll pay $6 -- so they are making

                                                                                  1. re: rswrsw

                                                                                    I just think NYC prices are crazy. And, guess that is what happens when you make a party in NYC vs. NJ......

                                                                                    i just like to know all costs upfront........

                                                                                    I have no idea where you are throwing this party, but I can tell you the restaurant is not making a lot of money off your party considering the cost of their overhead to operate in NYC.

                                                                                    With regards to your frustration.....consider this. You made your original post and you received responses and opinions that differ from yours. In each of your follow-up responses you provided more details.....which you neglected to provide in your initial post. As a result the numbers keep changing and you make assumptions on what the restaurant will actually make for the evening. As I indicated in my first reply, most people will not have more than two drinks.....the number which you are providing with your birthday dollars.. My point is simply this. You are upset they did not disclose the fee upfront.....but then, you did not disclose the full details upfront for this discussion.

                                                                                    Giving the benefit of doubt to both of you....you both made simple mistakes in disclosure....and as someone else noted above, at time of contract, you had the option to decline signing..

                                                                                    Like others have said....it's time for you to look forward to your party and have a good time, not dwell on this issue any longer.

                                                                                3. I hate added charges but I think I must have missed something that made you so upset. I take it that when you were going to buy dessert from them there was not a cake fee because they were making money on the dessert. When you decided to bring your own dessert they added a cake cutting fee.

                                                                                  It doesn't sound like either of you did anything wrong, but when the terms changed, so did the charges.

                                                                                  1. Would you be upset if you took your out-of-warranty car to a garage for a tune-up, then be pissed if they wanted to charge you a usage fee (premises and tools) for changing your brake shoes yourself while they were doing the tune up? Fundamentally, it's the same thing.You're leasing THEIR building, their equipment, their front/back of house staff, their food in an exclusivity contract that states they will be barring all others from the part of the restaurant you are going to be using, and now you're questioning whether they are making appropriate demands?

                                                                                    If you want a birthday party where you have that much control, you should have hired specific caterers for specific courses to be served at a non-restaurant location. And good luck on doing that for under budget!

                                                                                    1. Have Cupcakes!


                                                                                      At this point it is best to just let it go, Communication could have been better and you will be better prepared for future events.

                                                                                      Have a great birthday and enjoy your evening!

                                                                                      1. Try to think of it as ala carte.

                                                                                        There is a fee attached to each item you requested:

                                                                                        Private room for the evening.

                                                                                        Passed apps.

                                                                                        Bar service as agreed upon.

                                                                                        Staff to handle app & bar service.

                                                                                        You chose not to serve their desserts and so dessert was not included in your price.

                                                                                        If you now choose to add another service, there will be a fee attached.

                                                                                        You added on cake serving and there is a small fee charged for that.

                                                                                        Totally understand being annoyed that they didn't mention it when first discussed. But to charge for the added on service is fair and right.

                                                                                        By the way, happy birthday!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: AnneMarieDear


                                                                                          It's not unusual for the host to pay for an additional staff person to cut/serve the cake.

                                                                                        2. Folks, we've removed a few posts from this thread that are getting pretty judgmental about the original poster, and speculating about their life and history, and that's really not necessary or appropriate. There's been a pretty clear answer to the question of whether the fee was appropriate, so we're going to lock this now.