Diners who insist on bringing their own desserts have annoyed restaurants for years, or possibly decades, but one owner has decided enough is enough and is fighting back. That man is Neal McCarthy, the general manager and co-owner of Atlanta’s Miller Union, who has taken to posting images of the apparently cheap, sometimes garish-looking cakes to his unfortunately private Instagram. Speaking to the New York Times, the restaurateur says he does it for comic relief — a way to get back at customers who undermine his restaurant “by bringing in the world’s most hideous cakes,” but a real hero would let the whole world see these photos.
Many restaurants deal with this by simply charging customers for bringing in a cake, justifying it by, for example, referencing the labor required to plate the cake and wash those dishes. But McCarthy is on a warpath against pastry injustice. As he points out to the Times, Miller Union’s customers have sought out a “nice restaurant” — it ranks fourth on Atlanta magazine’s 50 best restaurants list, and the chef, Steven Satterfield, was a James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southeast last year — so they know what they’re getting into. Some customers still want to bring in cakes that look like they were served at an 8-year-old’s birthday party, though, and are decorated with things like a Grateful Dead logo, a clock, and cartoon people.
Unsurprisingly, McCarthy is not the only professional bothered by the practice, though some (like Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, of course) accept it as an inevitable evil. Pastry chef Bill Corbett, who is opening a soda fountain in Los Angeles, compares the practice to carrying beer into a bar, and recalled one time when a customer brought a Cold Stone Creamery cake into wd~50 during Sam Mason’s tenor as pastry chef, which is sort of like going to see Springsteen play at the Garden and then putting on headphones.