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One London restaurant is charging £10 per head to bring your own birthday cake

Where do you stand in the great ‘cakeage’ debate?

Written by
Alice Saville

Ah, birthday cake. Something we can all agree on: sweet, nostalgic, entirely delicious. Except the humble birthday cake has recently been causing some serious drama over on Twitter, after screenwriter Ivor Baddiel discovered that bringing a cake to a restaurant came with an unexpected charge. 

This surcharge is known as ‘cakeage’, in a riff on the term ‘corkage’, which is charged to diners who want to bring their own wine to a restaurant. On the face of it, this might seem pretty outrageous: it’s just a cake, and a tenner is more than most restaurant desserts cost per head in the first place. Isn’t life expensive enough without having to fork out for the pleasure of eating your own cake? Especially on your birthday, a time when a little generosity doesn’t go amiss?

But not all commenters on Twitter agreed.

As the debate following the original tweet explored, ‘cakeage’ is a long-established practice for a reason. It’s not so crazy when you think about the operating costs restaurants have to factor in. Restaurants are being hit by rising food and fuel costs, staffing difficulties and skyrocketing rents. So it makes sense that they don’t want people taking up valuable table space as they eat food they’re not paying for. Plus, staff will be expected to bring it out, serve, and provide plates and crockery for the cake, maybe sing ‘Happy Birthday’, all of which cost time and money. Sure, a tenner is definitely a bit steep, but perhaps it’s the restaurant's way of saying ‘leave your cake at home, mate, we don’t want to deal with it’.

Perhaps, instead of getting outraged, there’s a very simple solution. Pretty much all of London’s pubs are happy for drinkers to bring in their own cakes, and often they’ll provide napkins and a knife into the bargain: as long as you accompany that delicious creamy victoria sponge with an equally luscious creamy pint. Simple. 

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