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Stratford chef Paul Foster explains why it's fair to charge customers 'cakeage'



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I’M not one to be shy on social media, especially when it comes to defending the industry I love.

Last week I managed to get into a rather heated debate about ‘cakeage’, something that to my surprise is largely unheard of and massively divisive.

Salt owner Paul Foster in his cookery school at the Church Street restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson S11/1/21/0819. (56129730)
Salt owner Paul Foster in his cookery school at the Church Street restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson S11/1/21/0819. (56129730)

Now, if you aren’t familiar with the term then I will explain – essentially cakeage is a fee for guests bringing their own cake to a restaurant to eat for their celebration. Different restaurants have their own rules, but my policy was that if a guest came to Salt and didn’t order dessert but expected to eat their own food, then I would charge a small nominal fee, after all we weren’t just losing out on dessert revenue, we were supplying the venue, facilities, plates, utensils, cleaning and service staff whilst our desserts were going to waste. Should the table have the full meal then I wouldn’t charge a penny. Our fee was around £5/6 per head and caused very few issues.

I felt this rule was fair and showed some good will, but a lot of people on Twitter didn’t agree or completely missed the point. Even though I don’t charge this fee any more as we have a tasting menu only, I still received a torrent of abuse from people who I ended up blocking.

The main point of this argument is that in our society we are all privileged enough to have opinions and choices. Whilst my choice was to stand by restaurants that charge and make my own business decisions, customers have the choice to dine there or not. This is a fair deal. Just because your opinion is different, it doesn’t give you the right to demand a restaurant changes its policy or it doesn’t mean your standpoint is the correct one because you simply don’t agree or understand.

Opinions also have value, and as a business owner and someone who has worked in this industry for 23 years, mine has more value than the trolls on social media.



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