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Is It OK to Bring Birthday Cake to a Restaurant?

On Party Etiquette: Is It OK to Bring Cake to a Restaurant?

Let's face it: dining out is a totally subjective experience, and I've often wished there were hard and fast rules in place for issues like splitting the bill or whether coat checks should be mandatory. The question du jour? Whether it's OK to bring a birthday cake to a restaurant.I've just turned 30, and I'm celebrating by having dinner with a dozen friends at a small, family-owned ethnic restaurant. It feels apropos to have a cake for the occasion, but since the event takes place at a restaurant, I worry that the whole cake-and-candles thing could not only be disruptive, but also put a strain on the restaurant.

Guidelines on birthday cake etiquette seem to vary. Some restaurants are happy to do it; some request a call ahead; many other high-end establishments charge an (often pricey) cake-cutting fee. Still, others think it's a practice that should be cut out entirely. "I'm always baffled by people bringing their own cake. Do you bring your own steak?" one commenter asked rhetorically on a discussion board about the topic.

I want to hear what you think: if a restaurant doesn't focus on dessert, is it OK to bring your own birthday cake, candles, and lighter to dinner? What do you think of a per-person plating fee? Please weigh in below.

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muse2323 muse2323 4 years
I was just at a birthday party in one of our local places. The celebratee's daughter, who arranged the party, brought balloons and cupcakes. The cupcakes, which were the best I've ever had, were easy to serve and I thought it was a good idea. (I doubt any of us would have ordered dessert, were the cupcakes not there, as the place doesn't have an extensive dessert offering, nor are they known for what they do offer.) I would think at a place known for desserts, though, like The Cheesecake Factory, it would be inappropriate. Certainly, though, this should be on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis & bringing a cake should always be OKed by the restaurant. As to a plate fee--I'd feel okay about a 50-cents-a-plate fee, I guess. I'd just as soon have the party at my place to begin with. (It's my opinion that, in general, the food I make surpasses most of the food the restaurants around here serve. What an ego, eh?)
julesinflats julesinflats 4 years
i've never done this and i probably won't in the future, but i worked i've worked in restaurants where people did this all the time and the restaurant never had a problem with it. often customers wouldn't tell us beforehand, or, a couple of times, brought an ice cream cake which we had to find room in the freezer for. there was no plating or serving fee, and we as the servers had to light the candles, and bring the cake out. i never really minded doing this, but it is kind of annoying that customers are taking up time and space without paying for it.
karisaamy karisaamy 4 years
I always just call the place first and make sure it's ok - I wouldn't think twice about doing that.
fuzzles fuzzles 4 years
As a general rule, and strictly from a business standpoint, I say absolutely not. This cuts into everyone's bottom line. Not just that of the restaurant owner, but that of the waitstaff who will have to work for free at the expense of his or her other paying customers who deserve full attention during their dining experience. Word of perceived bad or negligent service from paying customers, even if the food is good, tends to spread fairly quickly and with adverse effects.
OhMaxine OhMaxine 4 years
The higher the class the restaurant is, the more iffy it is to bring a birthday cake. The steakhouse I worked at did not allow outside cakes or birthday decorations (like balloons, etc).
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 4 years
I agree that it depends on the restaurant. Plus, you should call ahead and ask if it's ok. My last b-day we brought a cake to a casual sushi place and it was totally fine. They didn't even charge us a plating fee and our waitress took pictures for us!
Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine 4 years
It depends on the restaurant. If it's a place that serves their own birthday-worthy desserts, then no. If it's a place with a very limited sweets menu, then yes...if you're throwing a party big enough to merit a whole cake, then I'd assume you're paying a decent amount for it, so I don't think it's "robbing" the restaurant, especially if there's a plating fee.
KeLynns KeLynns 4 years
This seems ridiculous to me. You can't walk into an establishment that sells food and expect them to be cool with the fact that you brought food from somewhere else. If you do this anyway, I don't think you should be surprised (or annoyed) at a plating/cutting fee, since it's there to try to make up some of the profits you essentially robbed them from. You wouldn't be surprised if a bar didn't want you to bring a flask, would you?
amber512 amber512 4 years
Hmm...interesting. Because at first I thought, why not just do it at your house after the dinner out. But then you might not want to have everyone over just for that. Then again, now that I'm not a kid anymore I don't really feel like I "need" cake for it to be my birthday. I can always just make up two servings of cake for my husband and myself. I'd have to anyway to make sure I can hit all of my food intolerances.
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