My family went out to eat at a nice restaurant for dinner (think $15-20 per person price range for an entree). Shortly after we sat down, a group of about 15 teens were seated at the table right next to us. It was obviously for one of the girls' 16th birthday as we overheard their conversation. We quickly noticed two girls each holding one of those round cake carriers with homemade cakes. We figured they probably were going to someone's house after dinner to eat the cake. They were well-dressed and well-behaved through the dinner. My family was impressed...until dessert time.
After they finished their dinner, they popped the lids of the cake containers and asked the waiter for dessert plates.
The waiter said there would be a $3 per plate "slicing fee" to serve the cake they brought (akin to a corking fee for wine). Desserts sold by the restaurant are about $6-7 if that matters. The teens obviously did not understand this concept. "We can cut it ourselves." "I can go get some paper plates from the store really quick," etc. The waiter said, no, they may not provide their own plates, and while they were free to cut their own cake, the fee must be paid or they could not eat the cake in the restaurant.
The teens pleaded a little more, not understanding why they had to "pay to eat the food they brought." After another firm "no" from the waiter, they put the cake away. After the waiter left, they sulked about how then waiter was "rude and mean." My dad whispered to our family that he was considering letting the kids know that the fee was pretty standard in nice restaurants as a measure to either discourage outside food or at least turn a profit on it. Not a condescending thing, but just as some helpful experience from an adult so they may better understand the waiter's stance. We told him not to bother, as they probably figured it out but were just upset.
So a few questions: would my dad have been out of line to explain the fee to them? Would you ever expect an outside birthday cake to be okay in a restaurant that serves dessert?