A question of cakeage: should restaurants charge for your cake?
Published 06 April 2022

Editor Josh Barrie weighs in on the cakeage debate

‘Let them eat cake’. Credit to the journalist and SOLA restaurant manager Joe Warwick for the reminder of the phrase, fitting and all too relevant this week with social media lumbered with a familiar argument: should customers have to pay a ‘cakeage’ fee when bringing in their own?

It was Ivor Baddiel - brother to the comic David - who brought up the issue.

'I asked the restaurant…if we could bring a cake with us to be brought out at the end of the meal,' Ivor wrote on social media. 'They said 'yes', but they'd charge us cakeage (yes, cakeage) at £10 a head. What is this world we live in?'

Is it so bad? Cakeage, I mean, not the world. There are pubs and restaurants that allow diners to bring in a Colin the Caterpillar or similar, and there are others that don’t. Many charge a fee. Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express spoke recently about firmly denying guests the opportunity entirely.

It isn’t difficult to understand why restaurateurs resent food from the outside. It means dirty dishes and busy staff but no profit whatsoever. To that end, cakeage makes complete sense. But then isn't hospitality about grace, warmth, a little favour?

When I asked people on Twitter what they thought about all this, no side proved definitive. A handful of industry professionals also took the time to email me their thoughts, for which I’m thankful, and Caroline from the Richmond Hill Hotel in Brighton had the best answer, I think:

Our policy is that we don’t charge cakeage (i.e we don’t let people bring their own cakes), but we will supply our own (a very nice chocolate fudge cake) and charge £35 for ten portions. This seems to have solved many of the problems posed by cakeage, and doesn’t seem to have caused any upset with our diners…

Reasonable. Let's all agree on that, then? Actually, I'll have a cheeseboard.