n diners are being hit in the hip pocket as more restaurants introduce a fee for cutting your cake.
Much like a corkage fees, where customers are charged to take their own wine to a restaurant, the practice of an eatery charging customers a fee to bring in an external cake has come to be called ‘cakeage’.
The trend has slowly made its way from overseas to Aussie shores and has started to cause outrage from diners.
One influencer caused a stir this month when she took to TikTok to complain of the increasing price of cakeage at Sydney restaurants, detailing her experience of being slapped with $10 per head fees for cakeage.
Jules Rangiheuea, a former Big Brother contestant who had travelled to Sydney from Perth, said the increased charge was ‘criminal’.
Jules Rangiheuea, a former Big Brother contestant who had travelled to Sydney from Perth , said the increased charge was ‘criminal’
Rangiheuea said that while she understood there were costs associated with the restaurant serving an external cake to guests, the prices had become disproportionate and were inappropriate considering the rising cost of living
It has long been common practice for restaurants to charge customers for bringing in their own cakes.
This is typically done to cover the costs of storing the dessert, which can often be quite large, as well as preparing, presenting and serving the cake.
There are costs also associated with cleaning up and the charge is intended to cover the restaurant’s loss of revenue where customers have not ordered a dessert from the establishment’s own menu.
But what exactly is a fair price for cakeage?
Rangiheuea said that while she understood there were costs associated with the restaurant serving an external cake to guests, the prices had become disproportionate and were inappropriate considering the rising cost of living and by extension, eating out.
‘I feel like this is a new thing too because it only just happened to me at the start of September,’ Ms Rangiheuea said of that $5 per head fee.
In her TikTok, posted online in early October, she said the cakeage fee had since doubled in cost.
‘I know people are going to say, ‘Oh, the fridge sizing’ and everything, but have fridges changed since six months ago?
‘I’m so confused, especially (with) the cost of living, like people are only going out now to celebrate and a lot of celebrations include cake.’
Many small businesses and iconic eateries have closed their doors during the cost of living crisis, succumbing to skyrocketing costs.
Earlier this year Rocky Pitarelli and his wife Kerrin were forced to close Caruso’s Italian Restaurant in Gymea after five years, crumbling under the ‘unbearable’ rise in business expenses.
Earlier this year Rocky Pitarelli and his wife Kerrin were forced to close Caruso’s Italian Restaurant in Gymea after five years, crumbling under the ‘unbearable’ rise in business expenses
‘It’s tough – you put your life into one venue, and the end result, what you have to show for it, is nothing,’ Mr Pitarelli told News.com.au.
‘(But) it’s an honour to have celebrations in your venue – families have made you part of their lives and they trust you with that christening, birthday party, engagement – those milestone celebrations.’
Indeed, many small businesses are struggling following mass disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and now the skyrocketing costs of energy and produce, the latter largely impacted by natural disaster events.
A report from investment bank UBS, released in May, found the average cost of groceries at Woolworths and Coles had surged by a whopping 9.6 per cent in the month prior.
Coles argued the report was ‘not an accurate reflection’ of how it calculates and reports inflation while Woolworths conceded customers were ‘trading into more affordable options’.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been largely blamed for the rising cost of energy.
Some restaurants will now simply refuse to accommodate customers who wish to bring in their own desserts. Two such eateries are the well-known Brisbane restaurants, Bianca (pictured) and sAme sAme, who introduced bans last year
Questions around appropriate cakeage have circulated around online forums for years, while some restaurants will now simply refuse to accommodate customers who wish to bring in their own desserts.
Two such eateries are the well-known Brisbane restaurants, Bianca and sAme sAme, who introduced bans last year.
A spokesperson for Bianca told the Courier Mail in 2022 that customers could instead purchase one of a variety of in-house cakes on offer.
‘Once customers pay for the cake, it can be portioned and served whenever the customer desires,’ they said.
A spokesperson for sAme sAme offered a similar sentiment, encouraging customers to pick from their ‘selection of in-house custom cakes’.
While cakeage covers associated costs, some restaurants have introduced higher fees simply to dissuade customers from the practice in the hopes that they will instead order substitutes from the establishment’s own menu.
In 2021 one person took to Reddit to question whether cakeage was normal, especially when the dessert in question was cupcakes.
One former hospitality worker said that customers were often ‘underestimating the f*** around’ associated with the practice, while another urged Aussies not to take cupcakes to restaurants, citing it as a ‘logistical nightmare’.
A Reddit user who several years ago had been to Sydney’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, one of the city’s most sophisticated fine dining establishments, said staff overheard it was their birthday and surprised them with a cupcake, however slapped them with a $5 cupcake fee in the bill.
One person, who identified as a pastry chef, said they found it ‘pretty irksome’ when customers brought in their own desserts.
One person, who identified as a pastry chef, said they found it ‘pretty irksome’ when customers brought in their own dessert
‘It actually takes time out of my prep and plating desserts that I have on menu,’ they said.
‘Not to mention, you wouldn’t come into a restaurant with your own roasted chicken and get us to warm it up.
‘I feel the same when y’all bring in your own cupcakes and such.’
Customers and restaurant owners do seem to unanimously agree, however, that such fees be disclosed to patrons beforehand.
Similarly, there seems to be a consensus that the fee not be exorbitant – though the exact ‘fair’ figure in question differs from one person to the next.
Certainly, a rise in cakeage to a degree is to be expected in line with the rising costs of running a hospitality business.
Commenters on Rangiheuea’s TikTok were quick to point out the fee had become standard in Sydney, however some did concede ‘$10 is excessive’.
Other Aussies urged customers to support the hospitality sector during the cost-of-living crisis, during which workers and owners were also struggling.
‘Consider the hospo community, one of the most heavily impacted industries,’ one person said.
‘Alternative option – buy desserts at the restaurants you go to.’