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Bringing birthday cakes into restaurants


eatbc
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My sister told me that she brought a birthday cake into a restaurant for a party she was attending, and was actually offended at the reluctance of the restaurant to allow it! People have tried this many times at the place I work. What's with this practice?

I'm curious to see what egulleters think.

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The first thing that pops into my mind is that they don't wish to be held legally accountable for any type of possible food-borne infections or food poisoning served on their property .... :hmmm:

or maybe they would prefer for their own food to be used, which is better for them financially ... :rolleyes:

just ruminating here ... :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The first thing that pops into my mind is that they don't wish to be held legally accountable for any type of possible food-borne infections or food poisoning served on their property .... :hmmm:

Just thinking from a business p.o.v. but that would be my guess.

I'm a kitchen designer, and if a client wants to supply their own plumbing fixtures for example, I have them sign a waiver that frees me from any responsibility for failure due to these fixtures. And before you scoff ... you'd be surprised at how many people will try to have me replace a faucet they provided.

Then again, this is a birthday cake we're talking about here. If the restaurant were to say "sign this so we're not liable" that would be fine. After that, any reluctance seems kinda petty.

DA

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isn't the question "why would you bring your own food to a restaurant"?

Possibly because they are kosher? have food allergies? have food restrictions?

are in the baking business and can "do it better" and more professionally? :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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isn't the question "why would you bring your own food to a restaurant"?

I think that hits the nail on the head...

The additional thoughts include -- in bringing in this cake, are you also bringing in your own plates and forks? If not, are you going to go and wash the plates and forks for the restaurant? Who is cutting and serving it?

There are always hidden costs in running a restaurant and by providing your own dessert and expecting to use their serviceware, you are costing the restaurant money that is not being made in the cost of the food.

I think it is rude, unless arrangements had been made ahead-of-time. This why, in large catering gigs, there is a "cutting fee". It is a pretty standard charge that venues charge, knowing that a bride would want to bring in a pretty cake. A simple charge of $2.50 a person (give or take) is charged to cover the costs of the servers and dishwashers.

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isn't the question "why would you bring your own food to a restaurant"?

Possibly because they are kosher? have food allergies? have food restrictions?

are in the baking business and can "do it better" and more professionally? :rolleyes:

... or perhaps the birthday-boy/girl has a favorite kind of cake not offered in said restaurant. I mean, who's gonna do a Sponge Bob cake better than DQ? :biggrin:

Sure, arrange it before hand, and charge a cutting fee ... but I gotta have my Sponge Bob!

DA

p.s. Nice to have Carolyn T, Gifted & tommy in our little neck o' the web. Welcome.

Edited by Daddy-A (log)
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I don't think that's the question, Tommy. Some scenarios:

1. Mom always bakes birthday person an angel food cake and it's a special tradition.

2. No one in the birthday party wanted to have everyone come back to the house just for cake.

3. The restaurant doesn't do cakes for birthdays.

4. The restaurant does cakes, but they stink.

5. The dinner host wants the cake decorated in a special way, and the restaurant cannot accommodate.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I don't think that's the question, Tommy. Some scenarios:

1. Mom always bakes birthday person an angel food cake and it's a special tradition.

2. No one in the birthday party wanted to have everyone come back to the house just for cake.

3. The restaurant doesn't do cakes for birthdays.

4. The restaurant does cakes, but they stink.

5. The dinner host wants the cake decorated in a special way, and the restaurant cannot accommodate.

All of these are perfectly plausible, however, a phone call to ascertain the restaurant's policy toward BYOC ahead of time is absolutely crucial. Anything less than a call to speak with the Chef/Pastry Chef/General Manager and explain the special tradition, or determine that the restaurant itself truly cannot provide the specific type of cake desired is just flat out rude and incredibly presumptuous.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I don't think that's the question, Tommy.

i suppose eatbc is the only one who can really tell us what the question was. but your answers seem to answer the question that you suggest wasn't asked. :shock:

no doubt there are countless possibilities of why someone might want to bring a cake to a restaurant, though. we can probably make a reeeaaaallly long list if we try. :laugh:

Nice to have Carolyn T, Gifted & tommy in our little neck o' the web.

and it's nice to be had. :wink:

Edited by tommy (log)
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Nice to have Carolyn T, Gifted & tommy in our little neck o' the web.  Welcome.

Hi, Daddy-A! I do sometimes leave the confines of the Southeast Forum to venture out to see and be heard by all of you above the Mason-Dixon Line ... but I always return to the safety of my grits and cornbread and barbecue .. :rolleyes:

I have been to the Pacific Northwest and plan to return sometime this year ...

Glad to be here no matter what the topic!! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Seems as if this topic should be moved to a more general forum. :smile:

i thought about that too, but maybe it's a cultural thing. the whole bringing of cakes to a restaurant may sound odd to *you*, but in some cultures that's the norm. not sure about canada on this one yet, but i hope this thread gets to the bottom of it. you can bet i'll be watching it closely from down here in NJ. :biggrin:

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Once again it is all about communication; like someone said did you phone the restaurant and find out what their procedure is in this matter, all restaurants are different, in 24 years in the business I have never seen any one be refused, if the restaurant can not provide something, then the client has the right to bring something and the restaurant has the right to refuse, there are plenty of places in the world who will accommodate your needs.

stovetop

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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The reason is that restaurant's have to maximize sales per customer.This is how we plan budgeting.Most birthday requests come from a table of more than 4 and generally we loose on the dessert sale.

Also if a restaurant has a pastry chef,or even purchases desserts,it is somewhat of an insult to have a cake come in.As a chef I never allow a birthday cake come into the restaurant.

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Yup, communication and courtesy are of course crucial. That understood, it's not that unusual an arrangement, for special occasions and/or very special cakes. Here's my wedding cake story - in which I can't remember who asked whom to handle what how, but I do know that the restaurant was quite used to doing this and had worked with this particular baker several times before. Don't remember whether they charged a cutting fee - probably. Fair enough - especially since we didn't have to pay for the cake.

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Yes exactly; but if they phone you they will find this out, this is such an easy solution, then it is the decision of the pastry chef if they want to make something the customer wants, it is not the customers problem if the pastry chef feeling are hurt, but it is the pastry chef right to refuse.

It is all about communication

Is not any one on this web site a regular customer somewhere, so many discussions on the site seem to get in semantically discussions in regards to the customer -chef-owner-waiter relationship.

I feel the owner does not owe nothing to a customer, if I do not know you I am less likely to accommodate your needs, if there is a relationship going on ,then things are going to be a lot different, all these discussions seem to miss this one aspect of a restaurant.

The regular

If you do not have them, something is wrong!!

If you treat them like shit, then you will not like regulars, except for those who like abuse.

stovetop

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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I'm curious how many of you see this situation similar to a diner wanting to bring their own bottles of wine into a restaurant? How is that usually handled out here locally?

Viewed in that light--it would probably be prudent not to assume anyone could ever bring their own cake into a restaurant--and if allowed to expect to pay a reasonable "cutting fee" per person as one might expect to pay a reasonable corkage fee--and to expect to have such a policy in place which can be explained ahead of time and then fairly enforced--depending on your jurisdiction there may even be legal reasons preventing a restaurateur from allowing a cake baked off-premises to be brought in. Does anyone know if that is the case here?

As pots mentioned, sure there's a financial aspect to this--as has been mentioned, if you're bringing in a cake you're likely not ordering the $7.00 plated desserts and not cutting, plating, serving, washing, etc. Just like you're not ordering wines of the list, which are housed in a temperature controlled environment, and served in wineglasses which break and have to be washed, replaced, etc. If you think about a restaurant meal as a timed real estate rental transaction (I don't, but in a clinical sense it could be thought of that way) you'll still be taking up space and resources of a restaurant yet no longer paying for that--space and resources which could be sold/assigned to other patrons.

But you have up until that point presumably been very good customers--and many diners leave without ordering dessert. I also think all of Ruth's scenarios are perfectly plausible ones to consider.

Still, I don't see this issue as being a "right" but more in terms of a privilege or reasonable expectation. Each restaurant sets its policy and this is just another aspect of the customer service transaction between chef/restaurant/manager and diner. As a diner you can choose to accept the offer or not. You certainly do not have any "right" to expect to bring a cake into a restaurant. I'd always call ahead and ask, even to ask for an exception, especially in a local place where you are known. And the response you get may surprise you--some restaurant pastry chefs enjoy doing special occasion cakes, it gives them a chance to step outside their normal routine. (Though one thing--it isn't usually up to the "pastry chef" to decide whether they'll do a birthday cake for you--the pchef is a blue collar hourly-paid worker--that decision will usually be decided for him or her higher up the ladder.) As Lisa suggests, most restaurants will try to accomodate you somehow because most restaurants realize that's the business they are in--all you have to do to get the ball rolling is communicate. And if you are unhappy about whatever options are offered at a particular place--or are inflexible (for any of the reasons listed above)--then it falls to you to find a place or manager who can accomodate you. And I'm sure you'll have many options.

And if I understand stovetop correctly, your chances for accomodation or a special exception are improved if you are reasonable going in and are known at an establishment. Hard to argue with that--and that seems good general guidance for a whole lot of things pertaining to the restaurant experience not just cake.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I knew I could count on this forum for some wide-ranging thoughts on the topic.

To generalize:

It’s been my experience that most parties who bring in cakes do it without warning, just show up and thrust it at the host/ess, expecting the service. They are almost always larger groups of six or more. Regulars would never insult the proprietor in this way.

These people feel it’s somehow appropriate to bring their own food into a business that sells food. They are either just being cheap, or incredibly rude. I suppose “ignorant” is a better term, as they may not intend to be rude.

Also, as a restaurateur, how would you feel serving some disgusting blue and day-glo orange flowery sugar crusted square? What if the next table over looks on in disgust, thinking that it has come from your kitchen? What if there’s a media critic in the room? What do you do if the birthday party becomes seriously ill? How does all of this affect your hard-earned reputation?

If you are not happy with desserts from a certain establishment, don’t go there. If you have certain allergies or needs, ask when you call ahead. If they cannot accommodate, eat somewhere else. If your kid needs a “Sponge Bob" cake, buy it where available and eat it there or at home. If Mom always cooks a traditional cake, eat it at Mom’s. You don’t want a crowd back at your house for dessert, too bad. Guess what? We don’t want them using up valuable space in our place of income, either.

Just call ahead (a couple of days) and almost every restaurant I’ve known would be delighted to prepare something for you. That’s the business they’re in.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Also, as a restaurateur, how would you feel serving some disgusting blue and day-glo orange flowery sugar crusted square? What if the next table over looks on in disgust, thinking that it has come from your kitchen? What if there’s a media critic in the room? What do you do if the birthday party becomes seriously ill? How does all of this affect your hard-earned reputation?

The liability issues of the guests getting food poisoning from the food THEY BROUGHT INTO THE RESTAURANT would be enough to put most restaurants off of the idea, I'd think.:unsure:

And again, it's just presumptuous as hell to do this without calling first. There's no explaining it away without the courtesy of the phone call to ascertain the restaurant's policy first. Period.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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The liability issues of the guests getting food poisoning from the food THEY BROUGHT INTO THE RESTAURANT would be enough to put most restaurants off of the idea, I'd think.:unsure:

Below you will see my initial post in this thread ... which was my very first thought .. liability: (as the daughter of a lawyer)

Jun 18 2004, 03:14 PM 

The first thing that pops into my mind is that they don't wish to be held legally accountable for any type of possible food-borne infections or food poisoning served on their property .

(to the tune of "Happy Birthday to you"

I just might sue,

I well might sue,

With lawyers on staff,

It's curtains for you. :sad:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Boy!!; Where I come from, you would be pretty sleezy if you sued the restaurant, that let you bring in your own birthday cake, I would eat a piece of that cake, if the guest got sick and I did not then I know that there is a problem with that sexy cake that they brought in, my goodness if you are so worried about what other quest think, just tell them that the customer brought the cake in, at this point tell them you have a way better B-cake, BLa-- BLa...

stove

Edited by stovetop (log)
Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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You do take a breath when you say that very long sentence, don't you? The main thing I got from it is that you live somewhere other than NYC ... :laugh: you wanna buy a "conjunction"?? Love, Vanna :laugh:

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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