Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cake Cutting Fee

Last evening a group booked a table to celebrate a birthday (thank you!). Earlier in the day, they called to ask if they could bring a cake. Our standard response is to offer to make a special cake, if we know far enough in advance.

This party called about the cake at around 4:30 pm for a 6:00 pm reservation. (Again, thanks to them for calling in advance and not just bringing the cake in without warning.) Because we did not have time to make a cake or other special dessert, our standard response is that we charge a cake cutting fee.

Most customers are not happy about this cake cutting fee and choose to eat dinner with us and eat their cake back at home after dinner, which is what this party did. Wise choice and thanks again to them.

Of course, there are customers who call many days in advance to discuss bringing in a very special cake (one that we could not do, mostly for sentimental reasons) for their event. We generally waive the fee, gladly I might add—usually we never even broach the topic. But the bulk of customers who want to bring a cake are trying to save money at our expense.

The bottom line for us is that we are in business to make money. If you bring a cake into the restaurant, you not only deprive us of dessert sales, but you also occupy a table that we could potentially reseat to generate more revenue. On top of that, you're using our china and silverware without paying your share of the cost of purchase, the cost of breakage, and the labor to wash and polish it.

Moreover, there is the aspect of insult. We, especially those of us who make the pastries, find it insulting that someone would bring in a pastry from out of house. Usually, it's a $10 Wal-Mart sheet cake made without any artistry or care; it's just a commodity. We take extreme pride in our food and it's painful when customers don't appreciate what we do.

I'm sure most customers never consider these issues, which is why I am bringing them up here.

Being in the hospitality business puts us in the unique situation of having to deal with people bringing food in from the outside to consume in our restaurant. You would never bring your own auto parts to the car dealer for repairs, would you? Would you bring your own bottle of bourbon to a bar and expect to be served? So, why would you bring a cake to a restaurant and expect to be served?

Bottom line for us: please don't bring a cake to our restaurant unless we've discussed it beforehand. We would find it rude and insulting.

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