HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Some Restaurants To Start Charging For Doggie Bags?

I've heard that some restaurants in LA are going to start charging for doggie bag packaging for leftovers. Has anyone else heard anything about this? What do you think? This is one trend whose wings need to be clipped before it gets off the ground.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. charging for doggie bags = 1* yelp review. Probably stiff the server too while I'm at it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      Probably stiff the server too while I'm at it.

      How is this relevant to the service you received from the wait staff?

      1. re: HDinCentralME

        They could eat the dime and give me a free doggie bag, or they could quit their crappy establishment and work at a place which does not charge for doggie bags.

        I'm about to drop you a 15-20% tip and you're going to nickel and dime me (literally) for a doggie bag? GTFO.

        1. re: ns1

          or they could quit their crappy establishment and work at a place which does not charge for doggie bags.

          finding and keeping a job in this economy is hard enough without such a ridiculous standard.

          I want a free refill of soda but this restaurant doesn't do that...waiter, you should pay for it.

          I want free bread with my meal but this resto doesn't do that...waiter, it's on you, right?

            1. re: ns1


              "or they could quit their crappy establishment and work at a place which does not charge for doggie bags"

              You would stiff a waiter out of his/her income because their boss makes a business decision to charge for take-out containers?

              A sad day for humanity.

              1. re: joe777cool

                a sad day indeed when we're charged for take out containers.

                1. re: ns1

                  Agreed, but that's not the WAITERS fault. It's the tight-*assed managements fault. Blame the manager/owner and take it up with him, but WHY would you blame the waiter if he didn't do anything wrong with your service or food?

                  1. re: Midknight

                    What would be the difference between not tipping and never going back to the establishment because of the charge? Not that I advocate taking it out on the waitstaff, but having been in the service industry for 9 years, one learns quickly that if the customer isn't happy with the management/owner then you (the server) are guilty by association. And, certainly the quickest way to get management to change policy (or lose a ton of money) is having the staff complain and hint at quitting or walking out.

    2. do you think this may have some sort of tie-in to the new law that is going to require that grocery stores charge for bags?

      3 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        The bag law only applies to stores, although somewhere down the line I wouldn't be surprised if some municipalities sought to expand the prohibition on single-use plastic bags to other businesses (e.g., restaurants) as well.

        1. re: Jack Flash

          Two years ago I was in DC for a conference and had lunch at a restaurant that does a lot of take out business. The styrofoam containers were free, but they had a sign posted at the register notifying customers of the new 5 cent charge for plastic bags due to the city tax on them.

          1. re: mpjmph

            Can't remember if it is here or in Italy, but some supermarkets charge for plastic bags as well.

      2. What's next--four squares of toilet paper for a dime???

        2 Replies
        1. re: KSlink

          Yes, like in some places in Europe. I once lined up to use the facilities and was told it would be x amount for 3 squares. I walked away.

          1. re: chefathome

            I ran into this many times in Portugal and Spain in the early 1970s. There would be an 'ancient' lady all dressed in black sitting on a chair at the entry door to the restrooms (restaurants, museums and other public places) vending Toilet paper as there was none provided in the stalls. After the first trip, we bought some of the interfold toilet paper (non-rolls) and packed a sleeve or two in our suitcase before leaving the states. This was particularly helpful in some of the former Communist countries such as Bulgaria and Roumania where toilet paper was a luxury not easily obtained.
            My sister was an exchange student in Paris in the early 60s and on her first visit to the lavatory in the home she was assigned could not find the toilet paper, instead on a small shelf next to the toilet was a stack of cancelled checks. Seemed this French family believed in recycling and repurposing, My sister quickly asked for a change of housing assignment.

        2. It would be good to get some confirmation and/or understanding of this before we start reaching for the pitchforks.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Vetter

              If you read on I've been asking the same thing over and over, Vetter. No one seems to care about the authenticity of the claim; they all just want to debate what if... Oh well.

          1. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. If the customer doesn't take the leftover food home, it's going in the trash, right? And a customer enjoying the food enough to want to take the leftovers home is a compliment to the restaurant, right? And enjoying those leftovers at home is just going to remind the customer how good the food is/was & will have them going back to eat there, right?

            But some restaurants want to try to make a sly buck off of throwing leftover food into a box?

            Should be a no-brainer for any restauranteur with a few brain cells.

            18 Replies
            1. re: Bacardi1

              If it is true, I will start bringing my own containers! I already paid for the food - ALL of it!!

              1. re: WildSwede

                Agreed. Even if this is as bad as it sounds, I refer you to the thread over here:


                1. re: WildSwede

                  i already do take my own containers sometimes.
                  i'm not such a fan of having my food stored in styrene products.
                  i'll bring my own glass pyrex ware if it's a restaurant at which i'm a regular.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I do that too, particularly at Asian places where we are eating family style, as it provides another benefit: I can pack my own leftovers the way I want them packed and I don't need a plastic bag at all as I bring sealable containers. Win win. I've never had any restaurant complain about this maneuvre on any basis. Doesn't work so well in a "fancier" establishment but then I usually don't have doggy bag requirements in such places.

                  2. re: WildSwede

                    +1- Fackers can't charge me twice for food I bought if I use my own containers. I"m not surprised to see somebody trying this, but if nothng else there'll be a waiter revolution when restaurants start trying this shit because the waiters will bear the brunt of the managerial greed. Some things just need to be a part of doing business, and providing containers for uneaten food is one of them.It's not a big expense.

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      I've been told that it's unlawful for a restaurant to put food (even your own leftover food) in a customer's own container - health code issues. Moreover, even if there is no law against it, I can see a lot of businesses being wary of doing so out of fear that a patron's container could be contaminated and not wanting to get sued when someone gets food poisoning.

                      1. re: Jack Flash

                        > I've been told that it's unlawful for a restaurant to put food
                        > (even your own leftover food) in a customer's own container

                        Interesting -- never come across this one. But then again, the sort of places I get takeout from are content with `B' heath codes.

                        1. re: Peripatetic

                          This actually affects me a lot, since I've had gastric surgery, I can only eat about 5-6 ounces at a time. Almost all restaurant portions are larger, so I always have more than I can eat in one meal.

                        2. re: Jack Flash

                          Except, often YOU are putting your leftovers in the take-out container. They aren't doing the shifting. It's your food now.

                          1. re: GreenDragon

                            You're missing the point. It has nothing to do with WHO is putting the food in the container. It's the fact that an outside container.

                            1. re: Jack Flash

                              Exactly how are they going to stop you? Call the police?

                              1. re: Jack Flash

                                Sorry, but that's incorrect. I've worked in the food industry and the health code (not law) that you are talking about applies to the restaurant staff. The diner can do whatever he wants with his food, including wrap it in a napkin (assuming it's not a cloth napkin belonging to the restaurant) and stuff it in his pocket.

                                1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                  I don't know that there is a universal health code. It's different in every county of every state, as far as I know.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    and in far smaller geographic subdivisioons than counties. Connecticut has 8 counties, but NO county government. There are 169 towns and cities who may choose to have health districts/codes. Smaller towns often combine to save money. Bridgeport, a city 6 miles from my home has its own health district and code. Trumbull, where I live combines with the next town (Monroe) and has a joint health district/code/inspector. Not enough work for a full timer in each town.

                                  2. re: KitchenBarbarian

                                    FYI....The health code of any government jurisdiction IS LAW. Law need not be statutes enacted by a legislature, it can be judicial decisions, administrative codes or regualations.

                                    Disclosurer I am an attorney.

                                    That said, in every jurisdiction I klnow of the patron is free to pack his/her own leftowners into his/hger own containers and remove them from the restaurant. The patron NOT the restaurant is the owner of the food as soon as it is served. Passing of title does not wait for payment of the bill, the patron becomes an owner of the food and a debtor of the establishment simultaneously upon service.

                                    Each health district may have its own rules as to whether or not a restaurant employee may pack leftovers into a patron's container, BUT from a liability standpoint, the restaurant should never allow employees to handle containers or utensils not provided by the restaurant.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      So probably the restaurants that claim this "law" have had issues previously, or heard tell from associates that own other restaurants. I know I occasionally run into it here, not often though. Doesn't matter either way to me.

                                      1. re: coll

                                        Businesses often use the excuse 'it's the law' to explain why they won't do something a patron wants.

                                        My favorites: Swimwear, underwear, and pierced earrings are NOT returnable due to health laws.

                                        I have sucessfully challenged this lie in our jurisdiction, as no such health law exists. In fact, jewelry stores allow customers to try on pierced earrings, merely wiping them with an alcohol swab after each try on. The same would work with a return.
                                        Restaurants sometimes tell me it's against the law to make me a rare hamburger, when it may be against their insurer's directives but not the law.
                                        Most Americans are not knowledgeable enough about the law to challenge these pronouncements. This attorney dares the management to produce the code, statute or regulations, they fail, I win.

                            2. re: WildSwede

                              Better yet, I'll just order my sit-down meal to be served in takeout containers.

                          2. I guess I will just have to order less to make sure I do not need a doggie bag.

                            1. I have a different take on this and I don't think the idea is based on restaurant owners' greed. As a result of rising costs, owners are frequently faced with the option of raising menu prices, reducing portion sizes or possibly charging for items that were traditionally free. In this case I think the last option has some merit because those take-out containers aren't free and diners who don't use them are subsidizing the those who do.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: Sam D.

                                True, but they're not the least bit pricey. It's greed, pure and simple. They could use cheap plastic bags instead.
                                Don't even start about the subsidizing part, that's just pure nonsense.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Actually, it's not at all absurd. A restaurant is a business. As such, the owner takes all overhead ito account when setting menu charges. To go containers are definitely part of the overhead. The good ones can be quite pricy. The Styrofoam ones - not so much. Honestly, no restaurant I have ever worked in in 15 years has ever said, "Hey, let's try to make money off our customers by charging them for to go containers". In reality, it sounds something like this, "Costs are rising across the board. I don't know if we can continue to provide so many things for free without raising prices. Maybe we should charge for to go containers instead of giving them away for free. So many people forget them at the table anyway, and I'll bet many more don't even eat their leftovers."

                                  Honestly. When will people stop thinking restaurants are greedy/shifty/dishonest/hiding their profits? It's a tough business. The place needs to be full every night; not just on weekends. These businesses are just trying to protect themselves from menu changes - which everybody hates.

                                  1. re: hilltowner

                                    The good containers cost at least 50 cents, or more, so what are the restaurants talking about charging? Either they raise all their prices 50 cents across the board, or just charge those who want this extra service accordingly. Bet they won't try to make money off it, just cover the extra expense. If you don't consider every cost, you will quickly go out of business anyway.

                                    1. re: hilltowner

                                      And here we go with the 'up charges', just like on airlines.... Really? I am taking a trip and have to take CLOTHES with me, and I have to pay for a bag to check?

                                      Please, resto's, do NOT take the airline model; if you need to raise prices, do it. Don't charge me for a doggy bag. Train your staff, cook well, keep the decent lighting and enough host staff to clear seating graciously and give me a good experience.

                                      Let me LEAVE happy, not getting 'doggy-bagged' at the exit. Charge what you should, give me an exellent experience, and I will return.

                                      Enough said?

                                    2. re: EWSflash

                                      Re: cheap plastic bags

                                      One restaurant used to put you meat into a small thin plastic bag for leftovers. All the rest of the food was served family style so you didn't order it they would just dole out what you wanted sO you could take anything home besides the meat. They had aluminum cOntainers for their sticky buns which came before dinner but since you could order them by the tray they had those on hand already.

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        I think what a lot of people are missing when they say to go containers aren't pricey is that while not pricey, they aren't free. Sure one container for $0.50 isn't expensive. But 5000 of them is $2500. At $0.50 I can see the customer getting miffed they have to pay. As a business owner, I can see wanting to save $2500. Apparently many people don't know what is all involved in running a business. Paper towels are really inexpensive when you price them out per towel. Now trying buying a $30 case or two per week . . . things that are "not the least bit pricey" add up in volume. Walmart doesn't get rich selling you your weekly groceries. Walmart gets rich selling millions and millions of people their weekly groceries.

                                        1. re: Rick

                                          If they are going to sell me a martini for $14 that cost them maybe $3 to make I think they can afford to give me a take home container for my food.

                                          The $11 dollar profit on all of those martinis adds up as well.

                                          1. re: Fowler

                                            It's this type of thought process that just shows how few people know the ins and outs of running a business. Sure it might cost them $3 in alcohol, but what about the bartender making it, the stool you're sitting on, the free drink the bartender gave to a buddy off the books, the glass you're drinking it out of that will likely get broken at some point, etc. The business owner just may be at the point where that "$11 profit" is no longer enough of a margin to give away containers for free. Should they just raise the martinis to $15 then? The free bread, the free take away containers, the free mints, the broken martini glasses, they all have to be paid for with profit from somewhere.

                                            1. re: Rick

                                              There is a significant difference between making a profit and gouging.

                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                If most of the restaurants in the area are charging $14 for a drink chances are that's the going price and the cost of doing business, not gouging. Customers can and do speak with their wallets. With all of the competition in the restaurant business unless a place has a captive audience with no other choices (think sports events etc) any place that is truly gouging is likely to lose market share fast. Remember, if there wasn't a nice profit to be made, there would be no incentive to go into business for yourself with all of the risk, work, and insecurity that goes along with it.

                                              2. re: Rick

                                                Then the restaurant should post extra charges, such as doggie bags, for the patrons to see. This would be fair and probably very appreciated.

                                                1. re: David11238

                                                  David, according to this post it seems what you are recommending would be very much NOT appreciated.

                                      2. would you all really object to paying $1 for the container (if you don't bring your own)?

                                        7 Replies
                                          1. re: smartie

                                            Not at all. I don't see what all the hoopla is about.

                                            1. re: smartie

                                              Yes, for GODS sake! Add 15 cents to each menu item and don't bother me with the 'doggy bag' what a load of crap!

                                              This is like taking apart my meal... here is the charge for 'grilling your steak', here is the charge for you table cloth... why should any resto patron particpate in the details of the cost basis of a meal at a restaurant? If you know what your doing, charge enough on the meal costs to cover things like take out containers.

                                              For heaven's sake, any restaurant software can monitor how many meals are 'bagged up partially' at the end of the meal/night., so a resto can know how many take out's they get versus plates being cleared with no leftover bag requests. Use your software, chefs/owners, to do the due dilligegence, and price accordingly.

                                              Do NOT nickel and dime your dinners. They are there for wine, food and relaxation. BE a host, and understant your role.

                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                I never take away food. Why should I have to subsidize someone else's takeaway container?

                                                1. re: kurtt

                                                  I don't demand free bread or water if i'm drinking something else, why should I subsidize your free bread and water for everybody at the table demands?

                                                  See where that could lead?

                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                    I'm all for the charging of bread. There are some restaurants that do it already.

                                              2. Call me a one percenter ,but I have noticed an appreciable difference in how establishments handle this. I would pay for it.

                                                1. I wouldn't mind paying for slightly more expensive but more eco-friendly containers- like cardboard rather than polystyrene. Where I live, clean styrofoam containers can be recycled, but I'm sure that's not the case in many areas. Either way, it's not something I really like for my food to contact. Some kind of disposable liner could be a possibility as well so that the rest of the container whether polystyrene or cardboard could be recycled- some places use foil, which isn't ecofriendly either. I've always wanted to bring my own containers but have been afraid of violating restaurant or health code policies. We generally order more than we can eat so that we have leftovers for the next day's lunch.

                                                  However, if this topic is really true, I'd be concerned about an increase in food waste if people are resisting the charge. Tons of food is probably already wasted at restaurants- I can't decide if it's worse for people to use the wasteful polystyrene containers (and a certain percentage of the time, not even end up eating the food anyway) or to just abandon the food in the restaurant up front.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tinnywatty

                                                    I actually agree with you regarding paying exra for eco-friendly containers, but I have no idea how a waiter would broach the subject without inciting a riot, given the emotions (mine included) demonstrated just in this thread.

                                                  2. One thing I like about this idea is that it would make people think twice before having things wrapped to go, and we'd all be less inclined to waste numerous pieces of plastic or styrofoam on those occasions when there are barely any leftovers to save, anyway.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                      So in your opinion it's better that the leftover food go into the trash?

                                                      I'd much rather waste the plastic than the food.

                                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                                        It would depend on how much food is leftover. If people only have a couple bites left, it's pretty harsh to throw away a ton of plastic just to save it, and they wouldn't want to pay to save a tiny amount of food. But if they have a near-full meal left, it's a much better reason to pay for the materials to bring that home.

                                                        1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                          What's next? An extra charge to rent the plates, glasses, silverware, & napkins?

                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                            Bacardi, they already do that in some countries---a charge for the "cover", meaning, all the stuff on the table that you use when you eat.

                                                      2. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                        You'd be surprised, Miriam. If you have just a little Chinese food left and you think it's not worth taking home, it is---add it to chicken broth to make surprisingly good Chinese Soup.

                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                          I never thought of that, but it sounds delicious.

                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                            Yup - I've done that too. It's terrific added to a cheap package of Ramen noodle soup, or just a package of plain Ramen noodles - in broth or drained. Leftover Chinese food is also good tossed right into a brand-new vegetable stir-fry. Waste not, want not. :)

                                                        2. Some places have always charged for take-out.

                                                          I don't see how this is any different.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            what, they charge EXTRA for take-out? I've never ever had that happen. If I order take-out, it's the same cost (or less) as if I sit down and dine. Some places, you even get a little more food in the take-out - a restaurant owner told me it was only fair, since you weren't taking up space, creating dirty dishes, or requiring the services of the wait-staff.

                                                          2. well first off it's not usually for my doggie :)))))
                                                            second, the portions are often so big that you can't possibly eat it all then at the resto.
                                                            the cost of the meal is a factor also because if you spend $16 on the child's chicken fingers and they eat one finger and 3 fries, you don't feel really good about leaving $13 worth of the meal on the table for them to dump in the trash can.

                                                            I'm all for doggie bags and if they start charging, it'd be too bad because I'd say just add a bit extra to the bill in the food prices and that'll make up for what the resto is spending on the boxes/bags

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                              You are paying for it one way or another. I would rather they kept the food price the same and gave me the option.

                                                            2. That should not affect me, as I very seldom ask for one, however much of that might be because we travel so very often, and a "doggie bag," to a hotel room, is not worth that much.


                                                              1. The "debate" still goes on even though the OP has not provided any evidence on the subject or even bothered to come back and explain himself. Why is everyone still arguing this point? Has anyone actually been to a restaurant that charged them for a "doggie bag?"

                                                                14 Replies
                                                                1. re: mangiare24

                                                                  I have not, but as we dine out most often "on the road," it would not be uncommon to never experience such.


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    It would not be uncommon, but you have never experienced this and you dine out often. Huh? Again, why the debate over something that does not, as far as I can tell, exist? Please, someone who has been charged for a doggie bag please post and tell us about it. All this speculation and no evidence in writing or practice.

                                                                    1. re: mangiare24

                                                                      Well, I have not idea of whether it exists, or not. The OP posted of it, and many have commented on it.

                                                                      As one, who spends more days in the air, than on the ground, that I do not do "doggie bags" should not surprise you. I does not surprise me.

                                                                      I think that I have done ONE doggie bag in the last five years. For that one, there was no charge.


                                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                                          Actually, I have two. However, neither has ever tasted "people food," and likely never will. For us, if there is a "doggie bag," it really a "people bag." My critters do not even get real bones.


                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                            Thanks for the reply. From reading your posts for a while, I get the impression you're the kind of guy who would have a dog or two, but I can't recall you mentioning them. Right about "people bags" -- very few so-called doggie bags ever make it to the dogs!

                                                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                                                              Yes, two lovely dogs, but as I mentioned, they are on special diets.

                                                                              We often dine with another couple, and if there are some large bones, they do ask for those for their Lab, who is on a totally "open diet," and seems to just love all bones, especially if "mommy and daddy" bring them home! They get my bones too.


                                                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          Sorry Bill, I read you comment in a totally different way. My mistake.
                                                                          I still contend that just because the OP posted this does not make it true and I find it silly that people are getting upset over something that does not exist.

                                                                          1. re: mangiare24

                                                                            No problem. As to the veracity of the post, I have no clue. I have not encountered this, but am probably one of the last people, who might.

                                                                            If it IS true, and comes to a restaurant where I dine, it will be 1:1000, before I am likely to encounter it.

                                                                            While I like to know about "trends," I do not see this one affecting me, at least not any time soon.

                                                                            Others? Well possibly. But WHERE is it being implemented? What are the details? I cannot comment on those.

                                                                            Matter-of-fact, I often grade restaurants down, when their portion sizes are too large. I order for us, or for the table, and not to have multiple meals later, and especially as we are likely on a plane, the next day. Some diners, however, feel that any restaurant should provide enough food, to feed a large neighborhood for a week. I am just not one. While I have zero problems with "left-overs" from home, I do not wish to take anything away from a restaurant, but a big smile - even if they wrap it in foil, that resembles a swan. Maybe I am just in the minority?


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Maybe they should go back to the swans crafted out of foil for leftovers. What was that an 80's or 90's thing?

                                                                              It would seem that most restaurants would have foil on hand, so they wouldn't have to stock special containers. Just saying. ;)

                                                                              1. re: pamf

                                                                                What a blast from the past!!!! I so remember those foil swans - especially from a small local Spanish-Mexican restaurant we used to frequent at least once a week back in the '80's. They'd do swans with little handles - so cute. What was cuter was that at the time we owned a Doberman who LOVED leftovers - particularly from this particular restaurant - & when we'd get home, we'd hand her the swan & she'd trot around the house with it until we broke it open for her in her bowl - lol!!

                                                                                Yes, yes, I know - not appropriate food for dogs. But we didn't give it to her all the time.

                                                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                  Sounds sort of like a "silver, doggie piñata!" That, I would love to have seen.

                                                                                  Thanks for sharing.


                                                                                2. re: pamf

                                                                                  I think that the first time that I saw one of those "swans" was about 1968. I cannot recall the last time that I saw one, but it would be sometime back.


                                                                      1. re: mangiare24

                                                                        whether or not the OP was just chumming the water to look for replies, it did generate a lot of response, so I don't really care what their motivation was, it became an interesting topic.

                                                                      2. All these replies and not one questioning why doggie bag culture is so prevalent. If so many need doggie bags perhaps portion sizes are just stupidly large.

                                                                        27 Replies
                                                                        1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                          I agree, In some restaurants a meal is large enough for two people to share. Better to take home than waste it.

                                                                          1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                            I have no problem with portion sizes being reduced IF, & I do mean ONLY IF, that portion size reduction is accompanied by a price reduction as well. And I seriously doubt that is going to happen.

                                                                            So in the meantime, if I only consume 1/3 or 1/2 of my meal, the rest IS coming home with me to make one or two lovely lunches. I've paid for it; it's mine; & I don't see why I should have to pay for or lug my own containers.

                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                              "I've paid for it; it's mine; & I don't see why I should have to pay for or lug my own containers."

                                                                              Actually, you've paid for the food and service that included the food being served to you on a plate at your table. The menu price does not include service on a plate at your table, then the clearing and packaging of remainders into takeaway containers so you can bring it home. I would not object to a packaging charge of $1 pp to cover the expense of packing these leftovers.
                                                                              When the food cost for dine in and takeaway is the same, the establishment has determined that the cost of service and setting, clearing and washing your place setting equals the cost of containers. BUT for the same price, one is not really entitled to plate service at the table and packaging to go.
                                                                              I would rather see a charge for this than an across the board price increase such that the person not taking food home subsidizes those who do.

                                                                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                                To me, I am less interested in a price reduction, per portion size, than I am in the number for smaller courses being offered. Give me very small portions of extremely well-prepared courses, over an evening, and I will be happier, than if you fill a pail for me to take home.

                                                                                We have done the 14-course tasting menu at Chef Mavro's, and have left neither hungry, nor overly-full, and never with a "doggie bag."


                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  However, I'd hazard a guess that 99% of the country doesn't partake of 14-course tasting menus, Bill. Often, the modus operandi is "shovel-them-in-and-shovel-them-out-in-1-hour-so-we-can-turn-the-table" from the restaurant's side along with as "I want to eat as fast as I can and get out of here" from the patron's side.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    That may well be, but I am not privy to such data, as it applies to others. I can only address what I am directly involved in.

                                                                                    Sorry that my sphere of knowledge is so very limited.


                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                      Bill, I didn't say your sphere of knowledge was limited. In fact, it's broader than most. However, your experience with a 14-course tasting menu is most probably at a restaurant which doesn't even *do* doggie bags.

                                                                                      The whole premise of the tasting menu is the complete polar opposite of getting a plate of a half pound of pasta with two whole chicken breast halves and 6 jumbo shrimp as a single entree, and eating only 1/3 of it and taking the rest home.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        Where is something like that served?

                                                                                        1. re: 2chez mike

                                                                                          Many Italian American restaurants here in the NYC metro area serve portions close to what LindaWhit cites.

                                                                                          1. re: 2chez mike

                                                                                            Olive Garden, Romano's...it's typical of chain restaurants...from what I've seen of coworkers bringing into work for lunch the next day.

                                                                                            1. re: 2chez mike

                                                                                              This is a sandwich at the Carnegie Deli in New York. It costs $24.95. You can bet your tuchus that I'm getting a doggie bag.


                                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                LOL! Yeah, I remember seeing that go by the last time I was there. And the utter look of astonishment on the recipient's face when it was placed in front of him. :-)

                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              I actually cannot say, as I have never requested a "doggie bag." Do they offer such? I have not a clue.

                                                                                              I like tasting menus, where I get a very good taste of each course, and do not leave, over-stuffed.

                                                                                              Others might feel differently.


                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                Growing up in the 50s and early 60s in Connecticut, better rerstaurants and our country club had doggy bags. These were preprinted heavy paper bags that were lined with wax paper. The ouside had a picture of a dog with a wagging tail and a bone. It was marked "for our 4 legged friends'
                                                                                                This bag was not intended to be a takeout container so that the patron could have another meal. It did not seal and hold in juices.

                                                                                                Typically, we would bring home the bone from a serving of prime rib for our dog. Even if we had not ordered Roast Beef, servers or managers at our regular haunts might bring a doogy bag with a bone to our table telling us that another table had not asked for their bone and the server knew our dog would appreciate it.

                                                                                                I have attached a photo of a typical doggy bag (different wording from what I quoted above, but simialr intent>for doggy, not human enjoyment!

                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                  This is how I remember doggie bags, growing up in the midwest in the late 60s and 70s. We didn't have a dog, but my Dad would sometimes bring home a doggie bag for the neighbors (we didn't eat out much as a family, but Dad did occasionally for work).

                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                    They still sell these doggie bags, and I know a few restaurants that use them. A nice old fashioned touch, if used appropriately.

                                                                                                    Actually now that I think of it, even if they pack it up in microwavable containers, don't they still usually call it a "doggie bag"?

                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a plastic container with a lid is NOT a bag...............

                                                                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                      Woodbridge, bagelman? Nice track.

                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                        Oak Lane as of 1962, founding members.
                                                                                                        Now both of them are gone. Woodbridge in 2010, Oak Lane in 2011

                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                          Hurtful news. I'm sorry to hear it.

                                                                                                    3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      Bill, I already responded to a similar statement of yours a bit further upthread. Many restaurants don't do tasting menus. The ones you frequent obviously do.

                                                                                          2. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                            " If so many need doggie bags perhaps portion sizes are just stupidly large."

                                                                                            Or maybe people are in a rush to get out and need a doggie bag, or maybe people fall ill during the meal and the others at the table need a doggie bag so they can get them home or maybe someone has endured gastric bypass and likes to socialize in a restaurant but cannot eat their entire meal and would like a doggie bag so the food does not go to waste?

                                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                                              Alll sounds great but you know well that 90+ % of the time it's just because the portion is too big too eat in one sitting. Doggy bag culture is pecularly American.

                                                                                              1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                                Maybe the average restaurant would rather error on the side of a customer leaving full and with a doggie bag than the customer leaving still hungry? I don't know. Also, certain people feel they are getting a better value if they leave with a doggie bag. Of course that "value" may only be falsely perceived and not reality.

                                                                                                1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                                  I have seen "doggie bags" in London, but got the feeling that the bones, etc., WERE for the dogs. Could be wrong?


                                                                                                  1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                                    My husband and I both had gastric sleeve surgery, and therefore can never finish a normal-sized meal. Sometimes I can get something off the appetizer menu, but more often, I'll just take the rest home - and it often lasts for 2-3 more meals for me!

                                                                                                2. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                                  This is my general feeling, without other data.

                                                                                                  I have, in the last 15 - 20 years, complained more about overly-large sizes, than portion sizes, that are too small, though many comedy writers still focus on small portions.

                                                                                                  When I post such, many say, "Child, hush your mouth. We have 26 cousins, who need to be fed from our meal." That is not my problem.

                                                                                                  I have also seldom had a really good meal, with "doggie bag" fare, even the next day, at home. For me, it is about the flavors at my table that night. Note: recently, I did much on a great filet, from the night before, in my hotel room. THAT was amazing, and was cold... ]


                                                                                                3. Ultimately, if charges end up being applied for these items, there will be a new market for reusable containers for patrons to bring with them. This is similar to using reusable grocery bags at the grocery stores.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: doodlebugg2

                                                                                                    That is possible. However, I cannot see me taking empty Tupperware to a restaurant.

                                                                                                    That may change, and then I will be surprised.


                                                                                                  2. It seems to me there are reasonable options here. If you don't want to pay a dime (or whatever) for whatever kind of packaging the restaurant uses for doggy bags, then take a few zip lock bags with you when you dine out. Some restaurants use very nice packaging that I have no problem paying for. Sometimes they are even dishwasher safe and reusable, such as the soup containers from many Chinese restaurants. Then there are the fancy packages of super upscale restaurants (that rarely -- ever? -- charge for the packaging). I wouldn't stop going to a restaurant I enjoy because they're going to charge me for packaging leftovers. Either pay, take some zip locks with your, or clean your plate. Simple!

                                                                                                    1. Any more than a nickel per package and they are ripping you off (but I will take it out of the tip) :o

                                                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                        Just the paper bag costs a nickle.....if it's a plain, small one.

                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                          BS, the plastic bag tax in TO is 5 cents, A small Styrofoam container bought in bulk will cost no more than $0.05 per unit.

                                                                                                          1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                            If you only have a bite left, a little hamburger sized one may do, but most places will give you an 8x8 or 9x9 3 compartment at least which is double the cost. Actually most places I go give you heavy duty plastic or aluminum with lids; only the cheapest of the cheap do styro as it's not considered environmentally correct in these parts. Perhaps "TO" is different from here in NY? I'm not sure what a plastic bag tax is, is that a good thing?

                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                              After a few years, the plastic bag tax was apparently revoked. (TO = Toronto :p -- not there right now, bags here are free). Yes, NY..... if it does not exist nanny will be around sooner or later to micromanage things.

                                                                                                        2. re: cacruden

                                                                                                          so you would penalize the server for a business decision made by their boss? shame shame shame. Sounds like the people who get mad when you try to upsell/suggestive sell and take it out on you when in reality if you dont you get fired. Eat at home!

                                                                                                          1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                            If the waiter doesn't want to be stiffed they can hook it up with a free bag or find another job.

                                                                                                            They are free to work wherever they want and we are allowed to tip whatever you want. DEAL WITH IT. getting stiffed is part of the job.

                                                                                                            As a consumer IDGAF if my money is going to the server or the restaurant cuz it's still money out of my pocket. To further this point, my tip money represents my satisfaction with the restaurant. If I'm getting charged 50 cents or a dollar or WHATEVER for these doggie bags then I'm not satisfied and I'm going to let everyone know it.

                                                                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                If, upon reflection, you feel your appetizers were overpriced, is excellent service not enough to warrant a full tip? The situation seems quite analogous to me.

                                                                                                                Of course, you are free to lower your tip for any infraction, real, imagined, fault of the server or not. Getting stiffed is indeed part of the job. But that fact doesn't make me think any more kindly of those doing the stiffing for reasons completely outside of the server's control.

                                                                                                                When faced with this situation, you always have the alternative option of tipping as well as the service itself warrants, vowing never to come back and making that clear to the manager, and then complaining about the policy to your friends and those on the internet. If, months down the line, your server feels compelled to find a new job because the restaurant is no longer getting enough business, I see nothing wrong with that. And you didn't go out of your way to screw someone who had nothing to do with the policy, and frankly, probably dislikes it him/herself.

                                                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                  I completely agree that the server can find another job if they do not like the policy, but why would you punish the server for a policy management put into place?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                    the cost of the meal is non negotiable; the tip is.

                                                                                                                    "brown smelly stuff", it rolls downhill.

                                                                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                      I've been "biting my tongue" so to speak, but..... People must really love going out to dinner with you... If the chair is uncomfortable do you deduct from the tip? If you don't like the color of the walls, do you deduct from the tip? If the restaurant doesn't allow hats to be worn inside and you have one on, do you deduct from the tip? Deducting from the tip for something out of the waiter's control such as a doggie bag fee is the same thing.

                                                                                                                      1. re: stilldontknow

                                                                                                                        May I ask why everyone is getting worked up about a policy which does not even exist? Not one person on this whole thread has been to a restaurant that charges for a doggie bag or has read an article in which a restaurant proposes to do this. Yet you are all debating this. Unbelievable! lol

                                                                                                                        1. re: mangiare24

                                                                                                                          People debate "what if" topics all the time, things that cannot be proven/disproven all the time. Whats the harm?

                                                                                                                          1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                            No harm. Just silly to debate something with no positive outcome. Seems a waste of time. Just my little old opinion. Carry on. :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: mangiare24

                                                                                                                              Next thing you know we will be arguing about the possible mandatory 25% gratuity at restaurants on the planet Mars. :-)

                                                                                                                              In all seriousness, I can see why you would be slightly annoyed. The OP posted the same question on more than one internet board and never once provided any evidence that this new policy of charging for doggie bags is even a remote possibility. However, I did find this thread useful because I learned a few things about some of the posters.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                  They have instituted a 25% gratuity on Mars!?!?!

                                                                                                                                  I mean, who knew?


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                    Wait until you hear about the potential corkage fees!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                      I seldom do any BYOW. Corkage fees seldom figure into my life.

                                                                                                                                      When I have brought a wine, it has been a special wine, and to a special restaurant. To date, I have never been charged any corkage, though the sommelier, the chef and the owner usually get some.

                                                                                                                                      Should not bother me in any way.


                                                                                                                            2. re: mangiare24

                                                                                                                              Most food courts around here charge 5 baht (about 15 cents) extra for takeaway. Of course at street level (where I eat mostly) -- takeaway is free (never done takeaway at a food court) :p Of course there is no tip/service charge to deduct from :o Much more civilized, my lunch typically costs between $1.20 and $1.50USD.... For a restaurant that charges an arm and a leg extra for takeaway - is incredibly cheap - and not worth frequenting..... Of course it is much more likely governments in SF will institute a takeaway tax in addition to a bag tax...

                                                                                                                      2. re: ns1

                                                                                                                        "If the waiter doesn't want to be stiffed they can hook it up with a free bag or find another job."

                                                                                                                        so the choice is to either steal from their employer or be stiffed?


                                                                                                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                          No, the choice is front the cost of the doggie bag so I'm not so pissed off I stiff you.

                                                                                                                          charging customers for doggie bags.


                                                                                                                          I clearly don't care what you all think, and it's clear you are not going to change my mind, so I'm not sure why we have to keep discussing this. At the end of the day it's my money and I'll do whatever I want with it. I have no hesitation dropping 20%+ on fantastic meals & service but I'm not going to get shafted with a 50 cent doggie bag.

                                                                                                                          good bye thread :)

                                                                                                                          1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                            ns1, Have you ever worked as a restaurant server? I have, so my responses may be biased; but I still cannot understand punishing the server for a decision made by management. Would you want your clients punishing you for a mandate your boss enacted?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                              Clearly there is no sense in arguing, the point just isnt being grasped.

                                                                                                                  2. Well...These are the signs of the times. Airlines charge for Headsets, Blankets and food. Many are nickel and diming so I am not surprised at this. I remember being in the UK in the 80's getting take out at a Chinese spot. They charged me for the fork and knife and the soy sauce. I was taken back as I had never heard or seen this before. We are being charged for every little thing in this world. Very Sad.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Ottojr

                                                                                                                      "Oh, you want mustard for that $9.00 airline pretzel? That will be $2.00, and we ONLY take credit cards."

                                                                                                                      It has almost (not quite, but almost) gotten to the point that it is actually cheaper to buy BC, or FC, to check your bags, have carry-ons, get a window, or aisle seat, and some sort of a snack.

                                                                                                                      Glad that I am a Premier Platinum Elite, and that wife is a 1K on UAL. At least the peanuts are free...


                                                                                                                    2. I have seen Gordon Ramsay chastising folks on Kitchen Nightmares for excessive portion size.

                                                                                                                      I'm a pretty big eater and I think portion sizes are generally too large. I don't want to take food away so if I know the place has huge portions I will avoid ordering an appetizer or salad even though I would prefer three or four reasonably portioned courses.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: kengk

                                                                                                                        I agree with Ramsay - in much of the US, portion sizes are too large.

                                                                                                                        In the last ten years, or so, I have complained about "too large," and have never reviewed a restaurant, where they were too small. Oh, there have been a very few, great dishes, where I could have used another bite, but that would have been at the expense of another course in the meal.


                                                                                                                      2. Here is an interesting situation...

                                                                                                                        "Members must comply with house rules which include eating everything on your plate and bringing your own doggie bag to take any leftovers home."


                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                          Why would one need a doggie bag for leftovers if the house rule is to eat everything on ones plate?

                                                                                                                            1. re: mangiare24

                                                                                                                              Hey, rules are rules. One cannot argue with rules - eat it all, but bring the "doggie bag."


                                                                                                                          1. I've see this in North NJ. These places are normally cheap eateries, like small Chinese food places where you have to go up and get your meal from the counter when eating in. The margins they make on the food is small anyway so I don't have a problem paying 25¢ for a plastic soup container if I need one.

                                                                                                                            At those places I tell them it's to go and then eat the food there. That way I have the container in case I don't finish.

                                                                                                                            If I were at a mid/high end restaurant I would be irritated if I were charged for a takeout container.