Why Don't Restaurants Allow Outside Food? When Can You Bring Your Food?

"No outside food" is a common sign you may see at most restaurants. But why don't restaurants allow outside food? The reasons are straightforward. The restaurants have to maintain their profits and customer experience. Moreover, banning on the outside can help to minimize the possibility of litigation risk. In this article, Filmore & Union will explain in detail why many restaurants ban on outside food. Moreover, there are some cases when bringing your own food is acceptable. Let’s read on to discover!

Why Don't Restaurants Allow Outside Food?

Many reasons lead to the ban on outside food in restaurants. Considering these factors may discourage you from bringing your own food to a public eating place.


Restaurants serve food. People come there to eat for sure. However, the manner of eating the other food while you are at the restaurant seems quite impolite. 

The restaurant staff, especially the chef, may think that their food isn't tasty enough for the guests to try. If you don't want to eat their food, why do you come here? Complaints about the cuisine appear to be more acceptable than even trying them.

Litigation risk

Food poison is a serious issue. If you are a victim, you must wonder what you ate last night. Many people will blame the restaurant for causing the food poison even if the source may result from other dishes.

To prevent the litigation risk, restaurant managers come up with the idea of banning outside food. It must not be very pleasant to take responsibility for the things we didn't do.

Restaurant revenue

A restaurant gains profit from the food they serve. The more dishes ordered, the higher revenue they get.

When you already have food, you will surely eat less. If a restaurant welcomes its guests to bring food, how can they earn a profit? In other words, the expenditure of outside food is the lost profit from food sold in a restaurant.

Smelly food

Luxurious restaurants have more strict rules on banning outside food. They don't want smelly food to ruin the atmosphere in their places. Since these food places also install air conditioners, the smell must be a disaster. 

What Scenarios Can You Bring Outside Food?

Although bringing your food to the restaurants may be rude, there are some situations where you have to. The restaurant staff may sympathize with you under these circumstances:

Food allergy

For example, if you suffer from a terrible nut allergy, you can bring your own nut-free salad with you.

It's OK if you have real dietary restrictions, mainly if they're medically driven. At the very least, inform the host so that they will be aware of this problem.

If possible, inform the restaurant ahead of time. They know how to serve their guests the best food with safety features. 

Baby guest

To some restaurants, a baby could be the only reason to bring meals from home.

It's acceptable if you want to bring cereal for your kid. It isn't appropriate to allow your child to spill their food all over the dining room while not attempting to recognize his actions or help with the cleanup.

Outside food for children is welcome by the restaurant's staff. Remember, though, to keep the mess to a minimum.

Learn  more about how to eat at a restaurant with kids right here.

Babies need special food


The reaction to this case depends on the restaurant rules. Some will be generous about the guests adding their favorite seasoning to the food.

On the other hand, some may feel uncomfortable with this action. Chefs want the eaters to experience the full flavor of their dish. Putting some seasoning on any cuisine affects the taste and flavor. 

If you still want to use your own seasoning, try to be polite to ask the staff. 

What Should You Do When You Need To Bring Outside Food To The Restaurant?

The customer's attitude has a significant impact on the restaurant's reaction. Some restaurants may be strict. You can only follow the rules regulated.

However, you can look for restaurants that are flexible under certain situations. If you want to bring your own food, remember to these tips:

Call ahead of time

A restaurant's mission is to offer its guests the best dining experience. If you are allergic to nuts, call to check if you can try any alternatives. If not, politely ask for outside food. 

Since you have asked for permission, bringing your own meals turns out to be acceptable. 

Avoid smelly food

Even when the restaurant allows you to bring outside dishes, don't be too open for all types of food. Smelly food would be annoying and terrible. 

If the restaurant respects your choice, please try to appreciate the restaurant's atmosphere.

Don't cut down the food ordered from the restaurant

The restaurant won't mind allowing outside food if there is no loss in their food order.  

For example, if you are crazy about your chilly sauce, you can bring them as a seasoning. Then, order beefsteak, spaghetti, and french fries. When the outside ingredient doesn't affect the amount of food served, no one complains about it.

Try not to cut down on the food you order from the restaurant

How To Stop Guests From Bringing Outside Food?

There should be solutions for impolite guests. Ban on outside food is a popular rule among restaurants. If the customer doesn't obey or still ignore, the restaurant can try some possible approach as follows:

Clear signages

Put the "No outside" everywhere in the sight of the eaters. Hanging the sign at the front door is the most common tip. Some restaurants also place the signages on the receptionists, the menu, and even on each dining table.

Keep reminding the customers that there must be no outside food in the restaurants. They can't ignore the rule anymore.

Customers should see the signages everywhere

Enforce the rule

The manager's attitude plays a vital role in this solution. If a restaurant wants to avoid all the disadvantages of outside food, the manager must be serious about implementing the rule.

A regulation is compulsory, not optional. The manager surely wants to please his guest. However, if a pleasing experience of one guest affects the other's dining time, the manager should be strict.

Make sure the restaurants offer an appropriate menu

Many eaters bring their own food because the restaurant doesn't serve it. In many cases, customers drop by a restaurant with a cup of coffee in their hands.

They need some caffeine to stay awake, but unfortunately, the restaurant does include the beverage in its menu. 

There are two solutions for this problem: add coffee to the food list, keep the menu unchanged, and lose a guest. 


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the outside food ban in restaurants. Let's discuss them a little bit.

1. Can I bring my own cake to McDonald's for my birthday celebration?

You are welcome to bring your birthday cake and eat it at McDonald's if it is Halal approved. Nevertheless, Mc Donald's does not allow outside food to be stored in their storage facility due to food safety concerns.

2. Is it rude to bring my own food to a restaurant?

In many countries, especially America, it's almost unacceptable to bring outside to restaurants. The only expectations are when you have an allergy to the restaurant dishes or go with your babies.

3. Can I bring my water bottle to the restaurants?

Most restaurants don't welcome customers when they bring a bottle of water while dining. It would be appropriate to order a glass of water instead of getting your own one.


You must agree with the reasons why don't restaurants allow outside food. However, the restaurant can be flexible in some specific cases.

If you really need to bring your own food, be friendly and polite to ask for permission. If your dishes don't affect the atmosphere of the restaurant, they are acceptable.

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thank you for following this post! 

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