Just wanna elicit some thoughts ... I have been wondering how to resolve for a while and to find the "perfect" solution for both customers and my own sanity as a restaurant owner.
Here I am, a restaurant owner who has put up a sign that says "Outside food are not allowed" .. yet customers somehow just brings their own birthday cakes as if it falls into a totally separate category of foods and asks us to keep in the fridge and then serve them when they are ready.
Now here's the beef, my staff and I have reached the point where we think it is just pure ridiculous that we are gonan provide service and plates for these customers who will stain our wares and have us clean up after their party for free ... Now I am not sure you guys noticed, the little tiny slice of cake that you stain on the plates will casuse quite a bit of a cleaning chore and how environmentally unfriendly it is. I have started a rule that provides party napkins now instead of plates and recently, this table was so displeased with that and said very loudly "woah! so dao" (as in "atas" or so "hostile").
I really wanna just walk over and take all the napkins away and say "please eat your cakes outside, cos outside foods are not allowed". I am already making exceptions for customers to bring birthday cakes though I serious think that all customers are getting a little too insensitive and taking things for granted.
So guys share your thoughts. Here I am stuck between being a nice guy to allow this and at the same time being angry that people are taking it for granted. What would u do if you're in my position? How would you educate the customer without offending them?
UPDATE: 15 Oct 2008
I feel compelled to update this post since i realize pple keep coming back to this article and never really reading my updates/responses in the comments.
Well, the stand is I am allowing customers to do whatever they want with respect to birthday cakes - they can bring their cakes in, and eat it. We provide utensils and plates and we do the clean up ... no extra charge.
But I do not feel that all restaurants should do this, and I would support/understand those who would not allow such options. The only reason I can't do that anymore is for consistency - too many of my regular customers have been enjoying this service that I can't take it away.
Many people who responded reply in a very angry manner and feels strongly they deserve to be allowed to bring their own cakes to any restaurants and eat it.
All I can say is, please be considerate and understanding to those who do not provide such service, for not every company can afford to do that. And if you do this, please order some food as well and be a good customer too.