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Bringing birthday cakes into restaurants


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Chef is an idiot...charge a $1.50 to plate and that’s the end of it...no exception! If you are an owner or investor....drop a credit card and realize your return at the end of the year. As a customer....be happy to support the patron!!! IF YOU WANT TO PLAY, YOU GOT TO PAY!!!!!!

Edited by cubilularis (log)

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art La Rochefoucauld

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:laugh:

Again, just a lowly waitron unit. I care not for food costs and the like.

In the end though, the restaurant business is a much different beast than that of the luxury car trade. I'm not a stranger to people who want sweet deals, and nor am I a pliable puddle of tip-seeking goop. This level of service and yesmanship is to be expected. I'm not responsible for how it got that way but that's the way it goes. If a bistro or a cruise ship wants to charge for the plating and service of customer carry-on, corkage, et cetera - then that's the way it goes. People raise eyebrows because it's a departure from the sweet-talking, boot-licking norm, and that's fine too.

And if someone tried bringing in a few chicken fingers from Red Robin, the humour of it would eclipse any and all of my disappointment.

Edited by editor@waiterblog (log)

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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:laugh:

Again, just a lowly waitron unit. I care not for food costs and the like.

In the end though, the restaurant business is a much different beast than that of the luxury car trade. I'm not a stranger to people who want sweet deals, and nor am I a pliable puddle of tip-seeking goop. This level of service and yesmanship is to be expected. I'm not responsible for how it got that way but that's the way it goes. If a bistro or a cruise ship wants to charge for the plating and service of customer carry-on, corkage, et cetera - then that's the way it goes. People raise eyebrows because it's a departure from the sweet-talking, boot-licking norm, and that's fine too.

And if someone tried bringing in a few chicken fingers from Red Robin, the humour of it would eclipse any and all of my disappointment.

Without getting into the idiocy of food cost, etc...Most industries rely on contribution margins.

Wake up! IF YOU WANT TO PLAY, YOU GOT TO PAY...simple.

Edited by cubilularis (log)

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art La Rochefoucauld

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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.

I is quite common in New York, to just pay a cake cutting fee and get on with life. It show up on the bill and is tipped on. No harm no foul, the customer leaves happy (and returns for their next birthday) If your restaurant has such a hard earned reputation I doubt anyone would mistake the supermarket cake (likely surrounded by witless rubes) as one of your own. The customer is king, if a restaurant does not attract the type of business that does not see fit to order cakes off the menu, perhaps the restaurant must select it's customers more carefully. Oh, darn, wait one moment- restaurants can't select customers, they can in essence only turn them away... good for the bottom line and reputation. Solid thinking.

"If they cannot accomidate" you mean "don't want to?" EAT SOMEWHERE ELSE. Oh, well, If you twisted my arm...

:hmmm:

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Brining in your own cake is just a fact of life in Vancouver. People do it. Sometimes they ask ahead, sometimes they just show up with it. Sometimes in a large party, one of the guests doesn't let anyone else know, and brings one ahead as a surprise. It will never stop happening.

It's not financially viable for restaurants to allow this, but then again, it's the service industry, and you should never say "No" to customers if you want them to think you are the greatest. Charge them "Cakage", maybe $1-2 per person, and offer to plate the cake, thus making some bucks instead of none. For restaurants that this happens often, you can also have one or two standard birthday cakes that are reasonably priced that you offer to guests when they call and ask if they can bring a cake. That way, everybody wins.

Stags and Staguettes are usually large parties, and they are the ones that most often bring in naughty cakes. They are generally there to have a good time and spend lots of money on dinner and drinks. Sucking up the minor loss of dessert sales more than often makes up by the guests having a good time, running up a fair sized bill and tipping well. Besides, most restaurants charge a minimum of 15% gratuity on larger parties these days anyways.

...sometimes all the guests at dinner order dessert off the menu. It all balances out in the end.

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Obviously, this is a complex culturally sensitive topic. Perhaps we need a system of codes posted clearly on the outside of the restaurant.

BYOW-wine

BYOC-cake

BYOCN-chicken nuggets

BYORM-raw meat

BYOLD-lap dancer

(followed by all the appropriate disclaimers in small print)

I could not bring a cake into a restaurant, because in my Jedi dining training, it would be the first step to giving myself over to the Dark Side. When my child was younger, I did bring Cheerios, and would tip extra-a self-imposed "toddler fee" for the extra cleanup.

Dining should be done in a spirit of mutual respect, with clear communication on both sides. When eating out on a birthday, I order dessert and then eat the traditional cake at home! (Oink!)

Zuke

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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Perspective question

How many times in a week does this happen where you work ?

Do you own or manage or just work there ?

What is the net affect to the gratuity if you are a server ?

If you are the owner, how much does this affect sales ? Would have made the sale otherwise ?

Who wants to go first ?

I'll go third just to see where the responses lie.

Neil

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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I am surprised by the amount of passion on this one. If a restaurant has good customer service, then maybe the point is moot - e.g. depending on if there is a pastry chef (or at least a chef who makes cakes) then the reservation call can discuss/offer/work with their client. If the establishment is not really one for desserts, they probably have fewer issues with people bringing in their own.

All the discussion about charges etc. should be made up front along with the request to do it. For the restaurants that are surprised by their customers bringing desserts, this must be relatively infrequent and in my mind would be a good test of customer service to see how it is handled. As a customer I would both expect/plan to discuss this with the restaurant management/maitre d' and expect that they would be up front with me on cutting/plating costs etc. Then it is a decision that comes back to me the customer.

In the end you have a choice - both as a restauranteur and as a customer - choose how you treat people and if you treat them well, it will most often come back to you as a reward.

Happy cake eating all!

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I have to say that maybe twice a month someone brings in a cake for a special occasion. We do charge for plating etc and if they did inquire about bringing a cake they are told beforehand, otherwise they are told upon arrival. It certainly isn't a favorite with management or staff but it also isn't a big deal. You just hope to sell some special coffees or moscato to go with it!

Cheers

Carol at Adesso

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Even though this started out as a "Canadian" topic, and has some notes on the cultural differences, I think this will best be addressed in the General forum instead of "Vancouver, British Columbia, and Western Canada". Birthday cake is international, y'all.

So... I'm moving this.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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firstly, I apologize for past posts and the belittling, I am a small man...

I just do not get it, I am sorry. Restaurants are a business that makes money. How can you bring in your own food and expect the restaurant to serve it to you for free? Does this happen in any other industry? Can I bring shelves to a cabinet maker and expect him to install them for free?

I will play nice, I just need someone to explain the rational.

Edited by cubilularis (log)

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art La Rochefoucauld

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Is anyone here really saying that they exepct to be served their own cake without compensating the restaurant? I'm sure there are people who expect things like that. I agree, it's not rational, but no one's making that argument, are they?

And the answer to your question is, yes. I've owned a retail business, sports equipment, and people did expect us to do all kinds of things for free. I'm sure that happens to people in all businesses.

Edited by Tess (log)
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firstly, I apologize for past posts and the belittling, I am a small man...

I just do not get it, I am sorry. Restaurants are a business that makes money. How can you bring in your own food and expect the restaurant to serve it to you for free? Does this happen in any other industry? Can I bring shelves to a cabinet maker and expect him to install them for free?

I will play nice, I just need someone to explain the rational.

One assumes that the restaurants make their own calculations. If the amount of money a party brings in -- with or without cake-age fee -- is sufficent, the restaurant acquiesces. If not, they don't. Better to give it up for a cake, sell dinner and booze, and create a little customer goodwill, than to leave empty seats.

I'm sure if you're spending enough money at your cabinet-maker or Mercedes-dealer or your topless bar, they'll be happy to do something free for you, as well. I personally browbeat my Jeep dealer out of a free cup-holder when I bought my Cherokee, ("that's a $40 item," he said of the 40-cent piece of moulded plastic on display) I'm sure a bigger spender could cop a substantially better freebie than I.

It's also worth noting that the point of a capitalist economy is, theoretically, to benefit the consumer, not the producer.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think I understand the 'giving of free product' to value-add to a customer's experience. That is a calculated business cost in the same column as 2 for 1's, etc...

What I cannot understand is how it is acceptable to, literally, bring something to the table and expect not to pay for it...

If the restaurant gives you a free peice of cake on your birthday, I understand. Bringing your own, I cannot get my head around. The customer is FORCING the restaurant to provide value-added? Sounds like extortion.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art La Rochefoucauld

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What is the net affect to the gratuity if you are a server ?

Negative. Anything that's not on the bill, doesn't receive a tip, and charging a cake cutting fee or corkage fee only nominally helps the server, since none of that fee is paid to the server and the patron only tips, perhaps, a percentage of that fee. What's 20% of $1.50? Not a lot, but the cake cutting isn't nearly as bad a deal as corkage on bringing your own wines. In some cases, a server loses the opportunity for a $60-80 sale in exchange for $10 corkage. Same amount of work, significantly smaller tip.

Of course, unlike those in the Vancouver forum, I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who earns $2.13 per hour aside from my tips, as opposed to Canadians who make a real wage, and have health care. . . ahem, not to get sidetracked.

Actually, this thread made me smile because it reminded me of a party I observed at a restaurant, where a group of 13 people reserved a private room, and they not only brought in their own Kroger sheet cake with that Crisco-based frosting or whatever that muck is on top of it, but their beverage of choice, which they also provided for themselves, was not champagne but Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice. The entire party, who had never been to that restaurant before, nor did they return, only bought one course from the restaurant and were not charged either corkage or cakage. Personally, I think that when a restaurant starts accepting deals like this, it's time for the owner to wake up and realize that his vision has failed, shut the doors and redesign the restaurant entirely. Or perhaps become a shoemaker instead.

But that's just my opinion.

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What is the net affect to the gratuity if you are a server ?

Negative. Anything that's not on the bill, doesn't receive a tip, and charging a cake cutting fee or corkage fee only nominally helps the server, since none of that fee is paid to the server and the patron only tips, perhaps, a percentage of that fee. What's 20% of $1.50? Not a lot, but the cake cutting isn't nearly as bad a deal as corkage on bringing your own wines. In some cases, a server loses the opportunity for a $60-80 sale in exchange for $10 corkage. Same amount of work, significantly smaller tip.

Of course, unlike those in the Vancouver forum, I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who earns $2.13 per hour aside from my tips, as opposed to Canadians who make a real wage, and have health care. . . ahem, not to get sidetracked.

Actually, this thread made me smile because it reminded me of a party I observed at a restaurant, where a group of 13 people reserved a private room, and they not only brought in their own Kroger sheet cake with that Crisco-based frosting or whatever that muck is on top of it, but their beverage of choice, which they also provided for themselves, was not champagne but Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice. The entire party, who had never been to that restaurant before, nor did they return, only bought one course from the restaurant and were not charged either corkage or cakage. Personally, I think that when a restaurant starts accepting deals like this, it's time for the owner to wake up and realize that his vision has failed, shut the doors and redesign the restaurant entirely. Or perhaps become a shoemaker instead.

But that's just my opinion.

Are you certain that there wasn't a room fee charged up front? My wife arranges rooms in restaurants on occasion - though not the kind of place Kroher-philes would frequent -- and there seem to be two approaches: Free room/expensive dinner; and expensive room/order what you want.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Ok , I have to be quick - I already posted this and lost it.

scenario

This happens once a week

party size 10

your average cheque $40

your labour % - 20 %

your food cost % - 30 %

restaurant dessert mix - 25 % ( number of people out of 100 that order dessert )

Sales for parties who bring in own cake - $20800

Loss of potential sales of dessert - $780

loss of potentail profit - $390 on lost dessert sales

Lets say you do not allow outside cakes or charge for them and it loses you 10 % of your parties.

Sales - $18720 but on top of that, you get your dessert sales of $702

New sales are $19422

You are $1378.00 ahead in scenario #1

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Are you certain that there wasn't a room fee charged up front?  My wife arranges rooms in restaurants on occasion - though not the kind of place Kroher-philes would frequent -- and there seem to be two approaches:  Free room/expensive dinner; and expensive room/order what you want.

Yeah, in this case, I'm sure. This restaurant didn't have a room fee. They did, sometimes, charge corkage, but they never charged cake cutting. The private dining director used to accept deals like that because she was mainly focussed on sending out resumes to other restaurants, trying to get a better position.

Boy, am I glad I don't work there anymore.

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I'm definitely in the "what an insult" camp. Because, at least in this region, nobody calls ahead, they ALWAYS want you to a)keep the cake in the fridge during dinner, and b) plate and garnish it. Try telling these people on the spot that they're subject to a plating fee - what happens is they get pissed off and the waitron's potential tip goes waaaay down.

And, like someone said upthread, 90% of the time it's some hideous grocery store deli cake with turquoise icing.

High chair? Here ya go. Make your pasta dish without garlic? Done. No truffled mash because you're on Atkins? Enjoy your side of vegetables. Barbecued salmon without the barbecue? No problem, that saves us money and prep time.

Bring your own cake? Rude. I can make that cake. I can make a better cake. Matter of fact, had you not brought that birthday cake, one of us would have brought you a free dessert.

That being said - the bistro i work in doesn't have any strict policy against it. There doesn't seem to be any successful way of making everybody happy. So we just suck it up. But believe me, i have hard feelings every time it happens.

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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where's the sentementality here? The cake "birthday cake" choice at a restaurant is never what I want..why? because I want the same thing I've had since I was seven. Why because it's my f-ing birthday, accomidate me. I'll pay for the accomidation, I like the restaurant, why not? charge throught he nose for all I care...just give me what I want. As I said before if the cake is ugly nobody will think you made it...unless your restaurnant is ugly...it's that simple. This is an occasion, a celebration, a happy time, make your money, I'll have my party. If you ruin my birthday with your wrong cake or your ill accomidations you will surely pay in the long run.

ps

Nobu will special order birthday cake if you give them a heads up..why? because the do not have a similar option on their dessert menu...can you bring your own? sure! just pay the fee...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I think not calling ahead and not expecting to pay a service chage is crazy, but some people are crazy. In general, it must be hard as a host or server, the way some people seem to use restaurants as their personal space. I stopped in for a late dinner at a nice place and there were a group of co-workers winding up what had clearly been a long dinner with exchanges of gifts and things. They were at a table right in the middle of the room and you couldn't hear yourself think while this was going on. I had the feeling I had accidentally crashed someone's party.

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Personally, I think there are two categories for 'cake fees'.

For casual restaurants (like Firday's), then there basically aren't any rules. They don't make their own desserts, so they can not accomodate special requests. And I don't see them charging any kind of 'cake plating' fee, becuase they are chains, and the corporations that run the chains are afraid of their customers. (Yeah, I used to work for Applebee's, not that I'm bitter or anything.)

For upscale restaurants (like the one I currently work at), then you can bring your own cake, but expect to pay for it. And ask ahead of time if it's okay. I actually had this scenario on Wednesday night. Party of 19 adults & 4 kids in a private room for an engagement party. When making the reservation, they said they wanted to bring their own cake - no problem. They were very nice, and fun was had by all. (And just for the record, our restaurant does not charge a 'room fee', nor does it charge a 'cake plate' fee. And we do not automatically add gratuities to any party - unless they ask us to ahead of time. Corkage is only $10/bottle, which is fairly cheap.)

For my own restaurant (if I ever get to that point): Guests can not bring in any outside desserts - sorry, I'm just (will be) so proud of what the food we prepare, I want you to enjoy the whole experience. (And our regular desserts will probably be those 'mini'-versions that are becoming popular now. About $3 a piece.) But we would love to make ANYTHING for your special dessert, since you are celebrating with us. (And it will not be extravagantly priced - after all it is a celebration.)

-Greg

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I think if the party asks upon the reservation to bring a cake, it should not be a problem. I think a nominal "cake-age" fee is fine also. What I cannot accept or understand, is a restaurant that says no, unless it's 4 star. The scenario I assume is that the cake is purchased beforehand not because of not wanting to partake of the restaurants desserts, but because the celebrated one has preferences, i.e., a favorite. If the restaurant can supply that very dessert, then, the party should purchase it from the restaurant. Where I live some popular birthday favorites are from Payard, William Greenberg, Jr., and Cupcake Cafe. Considering that, if the restaurant wants to play middle man and purchase the cake (without error), at a profit, then that is acceptable to me also. (But I will be left feeling that the restaurant wants to play hardball, in that case.)

Anyone who arrives at a restaurant with a cake without asking before hand is just being rude, and I have no sympathy for them when they run into a problem.

The reality of it for my friends and family is that we're all too lazy to make such arrangements and wind up eating whatever the restaurant sticks a candle in (and it's just too bad for the celebrated one).

Edited by emmapeel (log)

Emma Peel

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