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What Do You Think About Restaurants Using Cameras?

Per an article posted on MSN news today:

At New York City's four-star Daniel, for example, four closed-circuit cameras monitor the dining rooms, offering a bird's-eye view of every plate. "It's about maintaining a quality of service," says Daniel spokesperson Georgette Farkas. "With the cameras the chef can tell when each course needs to be plated and served."

http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/...

What do you think? Intrusive? Ok? I must admit, it kind of gives me the creeps.....

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  1. This day and age we're on camera much more than we realize. To me, it's no big deal. It is their restaurant and it's in the open dining area.

    P.S. This will probably get moved to the "Not About Food" board.

    1. I told my husband about the cameras at Daniel after reading about them quite some time ago and his initial response was negative. I said, "They're watching, not listening. What's the problem?" However, once I convinced him to take me to Daniel for a special occasion, his thinking changed. It became quite obvious what advantage the cameras give to the kitchen - the meal flowed beautifully from course to course - no rushing, no overly long lags - because the cameras let them know that the diners at table number whatever are half-way through with their first dish and it's time to fire up the next. Nobody had to come to our table to see if we were "still working on that." Water and wine glasses were refilled almost before we even thought about the fact that we needed more. The bread basket was offered in the same way. Service was smooth and flawless and I believe the cameras have a lot to do with that.

      Daniel has become our first choice for a big-deal celebratory dinner - not because of the cameras, of course, but because the food is spectacular, served in a room that more than matches up, and the service is the best.

      1. I have no problem with it, unless they make me watch myself eat on film. Let's hope the tapes don't end up on one of those 'overeating in America' TV specials.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mojoeater

          *LOL* they probably will mojo!!

          I think the cameras are a good idea. Seamless service is part of the experience of dining out so whatever they have to do to achieve that is fine with me.

        2. I have no problem with the cameras keeping the service running smoothly. When I am knee deep in a course and Mrs Jfood drops her knife. I want someone there lickety split. When that bread basket gets low, I want Dr Spock to send a message to the waiter to get more olive bread. When I spill water all over my pants, Sulu will send a napkin. Anything to make the servers' job easier and keep ahead of the curve makes for a more pleasant dining experience. But NO voice recordings. My conversations with Mrs Jfood and clients are just that, between us. That would be grounds for the No Return List.

          Also it will keep Aunt Gertrude's sticky little fingers from placing a salt shaker and some sweet 'N low in her pocketbook.

          1. I think a restaurant can certainly provide seamless service without the use of cameras. And if they can't, then there is something seriously wrong with the management and the team. I would be interested in knowing whether Alain Ducasse or other great Michelin starred chefs/restaurants employ this practice. Does anyone know?

            We are already watched enough, this is becoming a Big Brother world. Enough already! What ever happened to enjoying a beautiful meal simply and privately? There appears to be a direct correlation with the celebritization of the food industry and complicating matters further. Give me a break.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              i do know jean-george vongrichten uses them in some places, and he began that quite a few years ago. they're not watching *you*, per se, simply availing themselves of technology to improve service. i've eaten all over the world, in all levels of restaurants, and i could count the flawless experiences on one hand, with fingers left over. if video feed means i don't need to hunt down my server or dawdle between courses, i'm all for it.

              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                It certainly is possible to provide seamless service without cameras. However, it's always nice to have a Plan B.

                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  I agreee w Spelndid Wine Snob. What happened to old fashioned good timing and service? I wish they COULD here the patrons. maybe this is good constuctive criticism for the restaurants. Mics in the flowers?

                2. I don't mind as long the restaurant doesn't try to stop me from photographing my food for a posting on Chowhound or elsewhere. Acceptance of cameras should be mutual.

                  1. i don't think it would be as offensive if i knew they were doing it. do they tell you they are doing it? if not, that's kind of creepy.

                    1. you realize what it means??!!! No more plate licking!!!

                      1. This definately gives me the creeps - I'd hate to go to work everyday and be videotaped the whole damn time. Like the open kitchens, let people have some slack. If they're gonna screw something up they're gonna screw something up. I don't care if they smoke and swear and do blow in the kitchen so long as the food that comes out is clean and good and I don't want an overworked server sweating because my water ran out 30 seconds ago. These aren't make or break issues in dining and if I want more water or new silver I'll ask for it, and if my service sucks I'll tell the manager.

                        Is this really just a shortcut between FOH/BOH communication? It reeks of "Catbert, evil Director of Human Resources."

                        1. the camera thing doesn't bother me. what is interesting though, is that it doesn't seem to help...I went to Daniel with my husband and two friends a few months ago, and at the end of our meal they put plates down, but never brought anything (this was after dessert, so we weren't expecting anything, but were very confused). We thought something complementary was coming, because they had screwed up our tea order (it was badly oversteeped). I’m surprised no one noticed the empty plates sitting there, camera or not.

                          1. It kind of gives me the creeps too. But I can live with it as long as the cameras don't have a zoom where they can see the pimple on your nose.