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Would it bother you if a restaurant surrepitiously recorded your dining experience?

Would it?

What if a restaurant made it a practice to record -- audio and video -- each diner's experience, incognito, so as to later replay the footage to gather information on their customers in order to provide for a better dining experience.

Would this be OK with you?

Conversely, would it be less (or more) OK if you were told in advance that this recording was taking place?

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  1. I definitely would not be ok with restaurants recording video and audio footage while I eat, incognito. Where I live it is illegal to do so without first obtaining permission from whoever is being recorded. Even if it was to "provide a better dining experience" I would not be comfortable with this.

    If I was told in advance the recording would be taking place I think I would find myself unlikely to return to that particular establishment. I would wear it the first time, if I was unaware of the retaurants practice before arriving (likely for me as I do tend to be impulsive with dining out), but I wouldn't feel comfortable about returning. We have some pretty ordinary practices already occuring in some Australian bars and pubs (thankfully nowhere that I frequent!) where personal information (including fingerprint and retina scans) and recorded video/audio footage is being taken and utilised. Slightly different ballgame, but I still feel uncomfortable about it all. I would prefer to retain an illusion of privacy when I'm eating out.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TheHuntress

      So now you have piqued my interest, Huntress! Can you talk a little bit about fingerprinting and retina scans in Australia? What possible reason could there be for that?

      1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

        That surprised and intrigued me as well....

        1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

          Yep, that is an excellent question and we're all asking exactly the same thing. It's no secret we're a really laid back culture and when we're out and I've noticed from what I read on Chowhound, talking to Americans, etc. that we do not demand, nor expect anywhere near the level of perfection that is sought in the US. We really do have a "she'll be right, mate" attitude to most things, we view security as an unnnecessary nuisance and if things go pear shaped it just becomes a funny story to tell at the next gathering.

          So for establishments to start scanning drivers licences, fingerprints and retinas was a really huge WTF!?! for many people. It would seem (and I'm only guessing) that most places that do this are owned and run by bikie and/or other gangs. They claim that it's to prevent (and easily identify) alcohol fuelled violence, but seriously, better training on behalf of the bar staff and security could prevent that. It's no secret we're a heavy drinking culture and some people are just idiots, but it really doesn't seem to justify the fact that you need more ID to enter a bar than you do to enter the country. I live inner city and have a preference for small wine and cocktail bars, so I am yet to encounter this level of security, however I do know people living in the suburbs that go through this procedure for a drink at their local pub. Sublime ridiculousness on a huge scale and frankly I would not give these establishments my business.

          1. re: TheHuntress

            yeahhh...I'm thinking staying at home sounds pretty good -- privacy issues aside, who wants to go to that much hassle to have a beer?

            1. re: sunshine842

              Exactly. I'm lucky enough to live 5 minutes away from a wonderful area with many of my city's best restaurants and bars. They attract a far more interesting clientele, who can drink without the need for behaving stupidly or erractically after a dozen or so drinks and are equipped with better drinks and awesome barstaff. I think my top 3 favourite barmen work along this strip, it's excellent :)

            2. re: TheHuntress

              Those are definitely places to stay away from Now I understand!

        2. A thousand times no. If asked first I would leave and never come back while also reporting them to the police, BBB and newspapers and watch the place go out of business before sunrise.

          I'm curious what prompted this question as I can't think of any normal person being ok with this or it being legal in any 1st world country.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jzone

            "If asked first I would leave and never come back while also reporting them to the police, BBB and newspapers and watch the place go out of business before sunrise. "

            Huh? If they asked everyone before they recorded them it wouldnt be illegal at all.

            1. re: twyst

              From original post
              "Conversely, would it be less (or more) OK if you were told in advance that this recording was taking place?"

              That's the part I was responding to. If I wasn't told, I probably wouldn't know about it... right?

              1. re: twyst

                Now, if they asked, how accurate would the reactions of the patrons actually be? I cannot imagine that those tapes would be of any use, other than to send to whomever is trying to reproduce and market "Candid Camera."

                Let's just say that I know that people react much differently, if they know that a camera is rolling.


            2. Not okay. Not okay at all. While a restaurant is a public place, I have not waived all my privacy rights upon entering the door. My conversations are MINE and the restaurant has no right to record these. I'm less perturbed by the video, but only relatively so; I would not want to be recorded on video either.

              21 Replies
              1. re: CanadaGirl

                "While a restaurant is a public place, I have not waived all my privacy rights upon entering the door."
                In a strictly legal sense (under American law - I don't know much about Canadian law), I'm not convinced that's true to the same extent you think it is. The American legal barometer for cases like this seems to be whether you had a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' The fact that the restaurant has open seating and is a public place would tend to make me think that, legally speaking, you do not. OTOH, it would be illegal for a restaurant to record you in the restroom or record your conversation if you were inside a phone booth with a shut door (as if those still existed).

                Admittedly, I am not a lawyer, and I would welcome the opinion of one if he or she happens to be reading.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  There is no expectation of privacy at a private restaurant -- in other words, the restaurant owner would not need a search warrant of any kind to record or track their diners while they are in the restaurant.

                  By entering the restaurant, the diner has essentially consented to this type of "search". (Not consented to all searches -- e.g. body cavity search -- but certain intrusions of privacy are waived by being a guest at a restaurant).

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Unfortunately you are wrong, please see my reply to cowboyardee.

                    Furthermore, the restaurant owner could not get a searchg warrant. Search warrants are issued by judicial authorities to LAW ENFORCEMENT after a valid application made for cause, NOT private citizens such as the restaurant owner.

                    Entry alone, is not consent, the owner must give notice (posted sign of possible security recording). No notice, no informed consent means no consent.

                    This does not apply in places such as banks where recording is provided for by statute in most jurisdictions.

                    BTW> Canada Girl, all of my responses apply to US law, which varies by jurisdiction. No state may restrict civil rights more than the federal law, but individual states (such as MA, CT, NY, CA) can have more liberal civil rights than thse mandated by Federal law.

                    1. re: bagelman01

                      I would say it is "fortunate" they are wrong... no? :)

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      I am sorry, but will have to see the statutes on that.

                      It's like a bathroom in a private restaurant. How much expectation of privacy would a patron have there?

                      How many cases have ended up with retailers paying hefty fines, for video tapping their dressing rooms, though they claim that it's only for security against theft?

                      I am just not buying into that argument, until one can cite chapter and verse, and then declare which states they apply to - talking the USA here.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        It's common law (i.e. case law), not statutory.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Common Law where. Can you cite that?

                          Somehow, I highly doubt it, but am ready to be educated.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt


                            That's just for your own edification.

                            Like I said up above, I don't want this thread to turn into a legal discussion. Not interested in anyone's legal opinion on this issue. Just personal ones.

                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                          actually no cameras/taping in restrooms, even the most public venues, like sports arenas, libraries, street festival port-a-potties, etc, is taken really seriously! this extends to locker-rooms and similar in health clubs, ymcas, schools, etc. and many/most of them require you to check your cellphone-camera before entry ime. i don't know the legalese but i believe the penalties are, or can be, quite high for this type of offense.

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            I've had contracts with health clubs that asserted THEIR right under the contract (legal or not) to record members' activities:

                            example: "As part of its normal business operations, xxx ... reserves the right to access, monitor, record and/or transfer images of the club and/or locker room, to use any recording devices in the club or locker rooms, ... as needed, to protect the health and safety ..."

                            1. re: racer x

                              Monitoring the checking in, and out is one thing. Taping you in the shower, the steam room, the sauna, or in the massage suite? Well that might be something different.

                              BTW - was that you in the tanning booth, that I saw on the Internet?


                      2. re: cowboyardee

                        I'm not a lawyer either, but Canada has some pretty strict privacy laws that generally require individuals to consent to the information being collected and also that they be informed what will be done with that information.


                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          I am a lawyer................(don't hold that against me VBG)

                          While you do not have an expectation of privacy when dining in the middle of a crowded dining room, you do have an expectation of privacy when requesting a table in a secluded corner or a private alcove or a private room.

                          Noiw this expectation of privacy does not preclude your observation by the naked eye (includes regular eyeglasses/contacts) or being overheard by the naked ear (included hearing aids). It does however preclude the use of enhanced vision (e.g. telphoto lenses) and listening amphlification devices). It allows the chance sighting and being overheard by staff and patrons, but does not permit voice and sight recording witholut your permission and certainly not the rebroadcast to others (such as a training session with staff and consultants).

                          Some jurisdictions allow video surveillance for security purposes, but require posted notice and that the recordings be erased after X number of days.

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              I am a lawyer................(don't hold that against me VBG)

                              Funny. So am I.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I knew I liked you for multiple reasons........................

                            2. re: cowboyardee

                              Yes, "Reasonable Expectation of Privacy," such as going to the bathroom, the dressing room, dining with the person of your choice, and the list goes on, and on.

                              Now, if the restaurant can talk a judge into issuing an order for that surveillance, then things might be different, but heck, even law enforcement has issues doing that.

                              Nah, just does not wash.


                            3. re: CanadaGirl

                              And my table manners are mine and not to be put on display.....

                              Spot on response. Legally, they can't do that.

                              1. re: CanadaGirl

                                A restaurant is not a public place. It is as private as my home. It is my premise and I can ask you to leave, as the owner, becasue I feel like it. You have no "right" to be there unless I say it is okay.

                                1. re: Siobhan


                                  In most of these United States your statement is NOT correct, or complete. A restaurant may not be a public place (public ownership), BUT because of its government isued licenses and letting the general public in (as opposed to some members only venues) it is a place of PUBLIC ACCOMODATION and as such is subject to many laws and regulations.

                                  You as the owner may bar an individual or ask him/her to leave, but that action may NOT be based on discrimination against legally protected group (Race, Alienage and National Origin under Federal law, and even gender, sexual orientation under som state laws).

                                  So, If you bar Joe, because you don't like Joe, fine. But if you have barred Joe, and Sam and Gary and Mark and they are all African-Americans, a pattern may be realized and you may be subject to prosecution, lose your business or alcohol licenses, etcf.

                                  This was just an example based on Race, it could be a group of people whose ancestors all came from Country X, etc.
                                  You don't have to have a handicapped accessible bathroom or parking space at your home, but may be required by law to have one at your restaurant.

                                  A restaurant is NOT as private as your home, the restaurant patrons are on the premises as business invitees, not social guests. This creates liabilities and levels of care for the owner which differ from a homeowner and their social guests. Ever hear of a dram shop law???????????

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    If I owned a restaurant could I legally bar attorneys?

                              2. You have got to be kidding - NO! If they told me ahead I'd leave.

                                1. Uh, no. Not okay. What sort of "information" would they gather anyway?

                                  1. It wouldn't be ok if they were recording diners specifically. I've been to places where there are security cameras generally in locations where I can see them (so I'm going to be in the recording) and it doesn't bother me.

                                    1. Secretly recording me and my dining companion? Gosh, sounds really *kinky*

                                      Another great and fascinating question from ipsedixit, who must ask the best questions on this site.

                                      1. It would bother me if they did it secretly. There was one restaurant that we would occasionally go to in Baltimore w/a sign saying that they were recording the restaurant. It annoyed me, and made me curious, but it didn't keep me from the restaurant. The horrible service and so-so food were enough to limit my visits. But if the food was good, I would be inclined to still eat in a restaurant that disclosed it.

                                        1. ipse, why are you asking this question? Are you aware of restaurants that are doing this? Because I have to agree with most of the other comments here. I would have a huge problem with that. and would not return to a restaurant that did that. Security cameras are one thing - those recordings are not usually kept for any length of time. But recordings that restaurants mean to keep and use for god only knows what purpose? Hell, no.

                                          1. Not okay. It's also illegal in my state to audio record without the consent of those recorded. In this society, we all need more privacy.

                                            1. Would you shop in a convenience store if you knew that you were being recorded on camera under suspicion that you might perpetrate a crime?

                                              Would you participate in internet discussions and food-related web surfing if you knew that your browsing history and online presences were monitored and recorded in an effort to gather information so that you might be advertised to a little better and more efficiently?

                                              I'm not saying this kind of surveillance is a good thing, More so, I'm wondering what the big distinction is between the question in the OP and practices that we take for granted on a daily basis.

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                Exactly. "This call is being recorded for customer service purposes."

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  The difference for me would be, in a restaurant, I am likely to be having personal conversations that I don't want to share. In fact, many times at restaurants, I am there because it is a special occasion and I fully intend to have more personal conversations. At a convenience store, I'm not usually doing that so have no problem being video-taped. On a phone call that is being recorded, ditto. On internet discussions / food-related surfin, I'm again not really sharing anything that I don't mind having disseminated in public anyways.

                                                  So, the video part of a restaurant recording would not bother me at all. But if they are capturing audio? I'd probably stay, but then I'd tone down my conversation. Which means, I probably wouldn't be able to enjoy myself as much since I have to think about what I'm saying. Which, in the long-run, the negative impact of this experience probably far outweighs any gain the restaurant might have from doing this.

                                                  Furthermore, if a restaurant really cares about what they are serving and how to improve, they need only ask me. And I'm sure a lot of people who post here are willing to share their views, both positive and negative. And they can simply be more observant - I can't tell you the number of times where I barely touch an entree and it just gets taken away no questions asked... if you ask me (assuming I don't tell you first), I will definitely make it clear what was not enjoyable about the dish.

                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                  I'm not saying this kind of surveillance is a good thing, More so, I'm wondering what the big distinction is between the question in the OP and practices that we take for granted on a daily basis.

                                                  That's my point, cowboyardee.

                                                  We're already under constant surveillance -- from CCTVs at stores, to Google, to credit card and banks tracking us, to supermarkets with reward cards, etc.

                                                  How is a CCTV in a restaurant any different?

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    again, if you are talking about audio capture, there is a huge difference. Restaurant conversations typically have a very personal nature to them. I don't care if some store tracks we as I walk through the aisles to buy food, don't really care if Google tracks me because it just goes into some database and there is no name associated, don't really care if a supermarket knows what types of food I like to buy.

                                                    it also depends to what extent there is audio capture. Are they recording tables individually?

                                                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                      It's very hard to stop on a slippery slope. It's even harder to go back up the hill.

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        Not sure I know what you mean (since its the internet and intent is often hard to convey, I ask in all seriousness and haven't drawn any conclusions, but wasn't exactly sure what you really meant :))

                                                        For me, at least, there is a very clear line in the sand. I don't think I'd really want to be at a restaurant that not only records my conversations, but does so on separate audiostreams from other tables and goes back to review them after the fact. I certainly have a pretty high threshold for what I'll accept, so the example of Patina or Alinea taping me to time their service seems perfectly fine and would seemingly add to my experience.

                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                          As we incrementally tolerate intrusions into our privacies, be it through data mining, street corner cameras, etc., there will continue to be greater intrusions to tolerate. You may have a drawn a line in the sand, but where was that line before? Will you need to redraw it again? What if street corner cameras added audio recorders? What if every restaurant in your city adopted ipse’s hypothetical practices?

                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                            yep, totally get you and so hard to avoid, what with social media, technology, etc ever advancing... most definitely i will have to revisit my line at some point.

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                      The fact that surveillance technology is increasingly pervasive doesn't make it legal or acceptable to patrons.

                                                  2. Isn't this called closed circuit tv CCTV and the intention to deter theft and possibly identify perps? And I bet there are little signs near the door, on the menues, buried in the web site that there is an active security system on the premises. Search the ceiling corners for the very little eyes in the sky.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                      CCTV in Britain and the US, while installed in public streets as a crime deterrent, is also used as a way to intimidate citizens (for example recordings outside gay bars or at political protests).

                                                    2. We are being video surveilled for sure but audio recording takes it to another level. I can't imagine a restaurant having the time, staff or money to spend on doing this. A good manager and well-trained staff should be able to observe and give feedback about the customer experience.
                                                      This is an old article but a fun read from Amanda Hesser about the info restaurants keep on their diners http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/01/din...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                        good article. I'd be willing to have a microchip implanted if it would alert all restaurants to bring me bread immediately, make sure my wine and bread arrive contemporaneously, and never ever bring any form a blue cheese near me. ;-)

                                                      2. Hey. I own my right to wallow in deep shallowality! I do NOT want anyone else, nor do I want to see what I look like when I am eating. What if the camera angle and the lighting isn't flattering to me? No way baby--NFW!

                                                        1. I'm a bit surprised by the general negative reaction.

                                                          I can't recall the exact restaurant, but was it Alinea or maybe Per Se that used to have cameras in the dining room so that the kitchen could prepare the dishes to match the pace of the diners.

                                                          For LA 'hounds, the old Patina (in Hollywood before it moved to the Disney Concert Hall) had cameras in the dining room for a while to figure out when dishes should be plated and served.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            In those examples is it just visual or is it also audio?

                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                              It might have been both, but I believe with Patina it had only visual.

                                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I believe I read that about Daniel, but I'm not positive. Of course, a camera is not necessarily recording just because it is running. I have a camera pointed at me right now, I could flip to the screen if I wanted to...but it only records when I go home at night and tell it to start recording. I'm attempting to snare the lottery-fund thief.

                                                              In that case, i'm all forward. I'm pretty easy going about service generally, but I HATE poor pacing.

                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                Yes Daniel - Boloud, DiSpirito and Charlie Parker all cop to it in the article I linked above.

                                                                1. re: EM23


                                                                  I knew I wasn't crazy. At least not that crazy.

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    that type of "surveillance" seems pretty innocuous, as it seems to be video-only and in real-time. Your original post threw me for a loop because I couldn't figure out why someone would need the audio and why you'd need to go back and review - at that point it's too late to improve the experience.

                                                            3. I live in an "all party consent" state, so it would be illegal for a restaurant to do such a thing without getting my permission first. And I would deny such permission.

                                                              1. No. I'd consider it creepy. Security video recordings make it onto the web every so often. Remember when someone leaked footage of people he or she considered totally weird that was taken off the security cameras at Walmart? Such an invasion of privacy. Even though privacy is guarranteed, footage can be squirreled away and released much later, especially if the leaker wants to make fun of the people on the tape. I understand about security tapes on the grounds of an establishment, but to tape people simply eating dinner at a restaurant, is going over the line.

                                                                1. if it were legal to audio tape restaurant conversations, then p.i.s and police investigators wouldn't have to produce a search warrant when they try to introduce taped conversations in court.

                                                                  But as far as I know, they have to have a search warrant (and therefore probable cause) -- therefore it must be illegal.

                                                                  Think of all the organized crime, collusion, political graft, cheating on spouses, etc., that would already have been aired if recording these sorts of conversations was legal.

                                                                  And no, I would not go to a restaurant knowing they were going to tape my every word. I don't even like the real-time video of the dining room -- that's what servers are *supposed* to do.

                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                    I could be wrong, but I don't think the fact that recordings made without a warrant are inadmissable in court leads to the conclusion that they are therefore illegal to make. This seems like an error in logic, if you'll forgive me for saying so. It just means you can't use them court.

                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                      okay -- not illegal to make - -but illegal to listen to or share.

                                                                      The very fact that you have to show either consent of the recorded party or a legally supportable reason why you needed to record would rather vehemently point to the illegality of recordings that DON'T have consent or a warrant.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        ok, i'm not arguing with you, because I don't KNOW the answer. But I'm curious, when you state " you have to show either consent...or a legally supportable reason", how do you know that's true? Under waht circumstances? If you're still talking about for use in court, then I still say it doesn't follow that listening to the recording is illegal. Although it may be...but I don't see what warrants and court proceedings have to do with the question at hand. Again, I could be wrong.

                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                          "I don't see what warrants and court proceedings have to do with the question at hand."

                                                                          They really don't. The issue at hand is hypothetical and issues related to current jurisprudence on admissibility or waiver principles are fundamentally ways of avoiding the topic. It's akin to saying, "Oh you don't have to worry about that." Who's to say? The state of American law will always be in flux because the facts of American life will be.

                                                                          I think the instant issue is quite interesting when reflected upon. For example, let's say a large chain restaurant decides that all of it's servers will be miked. "Hello, my name is Sally and welcome to the Olive Garden. I just wanted to let you know that some or all of our conversations are being recorded for customer service purposes. Today's specials
                                                                          are . . . ."

                                                                          It's really not implausible to imagine, is it?

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            To continue my elaboration, let's say that Olive Garden's experiment helped them to increase revenue and reduce employee turnover. How long until most other chains adopt something similar? Until it becomes the norm?

                                                                            Think about how many 'hounds go to these corporate places; how many posts admit to going along when "out of town" or "the rest of the office likes it." I bet a lot of people would simply say, "Eh, that's just the way it is. I'll try not to talk to much." Or, "I better fix my hair."

                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                              You raise good points MGZ, especially when you say the following:

                                                                              "The issue at hand is hypothetical and issues related to current jurisprudence on admissibility or waiver principles are fundamentally ways of avoiding the topic. It's akin to saying, "Oh you don't have to worry about that." Who's to say? The state of American law will always be in flux because the facts of American life will be."

                                                                              Thank you for that.

                                                                              And, seriously, why are *we* sussing out potential legal issues when the the Supreme Court can't even agree among themselves in one opinion whether a tracking device on a car constitutes a search that requires a warrant. [sound of palm slapping forehead]

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                okay -- let's put it this way -- if it were already legal to do so, you can bet that there would be sound clips all over the web, detailing every conversation Kim Kardashian has ever had at any restaurant she's ever set foot in.

                                                                                Jeebus, we're treated to photographic evidence of every other minute in her life...if recording conversations were legal, we'd be hearing her talk about picking her nose.

                                                                                (gawd, I hate that woman.)

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  There's a difference between what's legal and what's a good business practice.

                                                                                  A restaurant arguably could legally choose to serve only female diners, but it probably wouldn't be a good business practice.

                                                                                  Again, this post wasn't about asking for anyone's legal opinion. I have enough of those already.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    "A restaurant arguably could legally choose to serve only female diners"

                                                                                    In the US, isn't that prohibited by antidiscrimination laws in many jurisdictions, if not by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 itself?

                                                                                    I would imagine that if it has not been adjudicated as such, it's only because no one has filed suit claiming gender-based discrimination in restaurant accommodation. Maybe I'm totally wrong, but I'd think that the only restaurants that would try to serve only women on a regular basis would be restaurants that men wouldn't generally want to patronize (perhaps restaurants in bars/"private clubs" catering to lesbians, for example) and thus wouldn't have a reason to sue over.

                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      A private club may include or exclude anyone it wishes. An establishment that welcomes public invitees cannot.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        That's why I threw that term in there. I know there are establishments that do regularly (like every day they're open, not just "ladies' nights), discriminate on the basis of gender, but my understanding was that the way many (some?) of them avoid legal issues is to call themselves private clubs, rather than restaurants or bars.

                                                                                        1. re: racer x

                                                                                          It's very simple to be a private club. To be selective about it's membership, it must be a private club, closed to the public. There is nothing wrong with that. It is not a restaurant or bar. Private clubs do not invite the public. Ever. There are no "ladies nights" at private clubs. The term "club" has been hijacked by nefarious enterprisers, and has nothing to do with legitimate "clubs" that got here first. Past and present, I have been a proud member of many clubs. And I have been a guest at numerous impressive women's clubs, most memorably at the Chilton Club in Boston.

                                                                                        2. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Sorry, Veggo, not so in many cases and places. That private club better NOT have a liquor license in many states if it excludes based on protected class (Race, Sex, National Origin) etc.

                                                                                          Here in CT, where you grewup, its been many years since a country club could even restrict female member's tee times or lose their liquor license.

                                                                                          Once a private club has a business license, liqour license, sales tax permit and ever allows non-member guests it may find itslf subject to a host of laws.

                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                            Yes, we went through some of the legal "flaming hoops" at our CC. Lot of heated debate, and legal wrangling. Will not go into details, but let's just say that feelings were hurt, and the whole design of the club's dining was altered, and in a very, very big way. The "hurt feelings" are still very much in evidence. Matter of fact, not sure where I should dine, and when.

                                                                                            At least they have not added CCTV to the "Men's Bridge Room," or there might be some viral videos, on the CC's Web site...

                                                                                            At least if you play a round with me, there should not be too many videos of you in the shower, beyond the CC's Web site.Trust me, I will not look...


                                                                                        3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          Well, considering the litigious society,in which most of us lives, it could be, oh let's say US $ 25M, or maybe more. Not much in some circles, but would mean economic death, to others.

                                                                                          Just depends,


                                                                        2. I'm part of the group that would be appalled by such actions.

                                                                          Don't get me wrong, even though I am not really a fan of these measures, either, I understand security cameras and similar surveillance being used to protect persons and property and being used to catch the perpetrators of an illegal offense. However, I am totally opposed to such tactics being used to deduce personal information and preferences, especially in a restaurant setting. This is particularly true if such is done without my consent.

                                                                          Moreover, I'm not quite sure how such information would be used to enhance my dining experience. If I dine there regularly, then after some time I would expect a number of the employees to know such information already. On the other hand, if I dine there infrequently, the use of such information would undoubtedly seem to me as pandering and insincere, like when I go to some place three times a year, don't recognize the host or server, and am greeted with a beaming, "We're glad to have you back, Mr. Mauler."

                                                                          If I knew a restaurant was using audio and/or video surveillance to determine my personal information and preferences, I would never return.

                                                                          1. In a public venue? No, it would not bother me because my spouse, friends, colleagues, family, etc. are intelligent enough to not do anything or say something foolish in public. One never knows who is watching or listening.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                              One never knows who is watching or listening.

                                                                              Or who has their cell phone handy for their Youtube library, right?

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                "Or who has their cell phone handy for their Youtube library, right?"

                                                                                Excellent example!

                                                                            2. "For the purpose of improving your table manners, your dining experience may be recorded."

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: beevod

                                                                                "For the purpose of my being willing to eat here and give you a tip afterwards, my dining experience may NOT be recorded."

                                                                              2. I am not sure. Would they also be gathering my DNA from my saliva?

                                                                                I would think that one would have some legal expectation of privacy.

                                                                                I mean think about it. Business lunch, and a corporate CFO is dining with their audit firm. They are quietly discussing the corporation, and financial matters. The restaurant has recorded everything, and then played it back. What is to stop some of those, who screened the tape, for adjusting their investments, based only from that conversation. Sounds dicey, at the very best, and probably with heavy legal implications, at worst.

                                                                                Let's imagine Senator X, on the Intelligence Committee, meeting with Mr. Y from the US State Department. They are talking about very, very sensitive topics, regarding National Security. They are in a discrete, corner table at the back of the Capital Grille, 601 Pennsylvania Ave. The entire conversation has been taped, and recorded. The staff then is shown those tapes, to train them, but guess what, one of the busboys really hates the US. The CIA would need to send in Mitch Rapp to secure the tapes, and then blow up the restaurant, with all employees inside.

                                                                                How about another scenario. Mr. A is meeting with Ms. B, and an envelope with money sticking out is handed over. In return, a cellophane bag with a white power is offered. Has a crime just been committed? Would the restaurant now not be legally bound, to report that to authorities? Oh wait, I now see a problem. There was no court order issued for this surveillance, so how could the evidence be used?

                                                                                Nah, bad, bad idea, and on many levels. Think about a very big dude, with a bad temper, being taped on a date, while his wife was in Pokipsie? Wouldn't he be mad as heck, and likely to tear someone's head off their body?

                                                                                Don't do it, no matter how tempted you might be. Rely on focus groups instead.


                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Bill, your scenario in your #4....can't happen. Trust me, there is very cool stuff.

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Well, the "big dude" might have been a stretch, unless he managed to encounter the restaurant owner in the very dark parking lot, late on a foggy night, with no one else around, and decide to inflict injury on that restaurant owner.

                                                                                    For the others? Well something like that happens often, but is sort of a "black op." Let it get out, and well, there will be blood.


                                                                                2. OP's question "would it bother me".

                                                                                  Answer - Yes, absolutely.

                                                                                  Second question - "would it bother me if I knew in advance".

                                                                                  Answer - Yes, but not as much as I'd exercise a decision not to eat there.

                                                                                  1. Whether surreptitiously recording each diner in a restaurant is legal or not, it is unethical. I absolutely would not patronize such an establishment.

                                                                                    This is a case of "if you have to ask ..."
                                                                                    There is an expectation of privacy in a restaurant that is different from what occurs walking down the street or shopping. Moreover, the original question framed the issue in terms of the footage being collected "to provide for a better dining experience." As FattyDumplin said, they only gotta ask me if they want to know how I think they could improve my dining experience!

                                                                                    Gas stations, stores, and other businesses open to the public do not claim to be recording to improve the quality of service delivered to the customer -- they admit that they use recording to deter and prosecute crimes. Same with governments (such as in the UK). Two completely different purposes. I'm generally opposed to recording of those types as well, but tolerate them in some businesses mainly because there are no alternatives. With restaurants, the alternative is that, even if all the local restaurants began to adopt such a ridiculous practice, I could choose to always eat at home (mine or friends'/family's).

                                                                                    Apart from the high general creepiness and Big Brother quotients of such a proposal, I really hate the idea that that information, once recorded, could be used against you in ways you (and even the restaurant) might never have contemplated originally, including in legal proceedings.

                                                                                    There was a discussion last year about offering diners an option of participating in a computerized questionnaire with their meals to improve food and service. I'd much more readily get behind that kind of movement.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                      That is exactly why I sweep every restaurant, when I enter. My equipment will pick up bugs of the highest level (at least at that point in time). I also have "friends," who routinely block the CCTV feeds, and erase all tapes. Should one be a restaurant owner, with gaps in your tapes, I could tell you who did that, but then they would have to kill me.

                                                                                      I also carry signal blocking hardware, that will defeat most systems, though things change weekly.

                                                                                      When I dine, or shower, or go potty, I makes sure that there IS privacy. I do not want to be the subject of blackmail, and the restauranteurs can just get over it. If they wonder why my voice has never been recorded, well, it's because I am a ghost...


                                                                                    2. There is a bar here in Honolulu that has an oblique view of Waikiki Beach, they have a live feed video camera that shows one area of the room out through the open windows to the beach beyond that is posted on their website as part of their marketing. There are a couple of pretty obvious signs posted that inform patrons of that area of the bar being broadcast live. When they first put up the camera that area of the room was noticeably under utilized. Over time the regular patrons have gotten used to it and don't pay any attention. And of course as the afternoon or evening wear on and people have more and more to drink they pay less attention to it. According to the bartenders it is a pretty effective tool for attracting the tourist trade, customers do mention that they saw the website and the video feed, and while sitting at home in Minnesota staring out at the snow, the beach at Waikiki and a bunch of people in shorts and t-shirts in front of an open window is a pretty strong motivator.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan


                                                                                        When you watch that feed, and suddenly things go black, well the chances are that I have arrived.

                                                                                        Did you notice that the feed from AW's CCTV went down, while we dined there? That was my "people." Now, there was nothing in our conversation, that was a problem, but I wanted privacy, and got it. Just gotta' have the gear, and the people.



                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          don't think this bar is one you are likely to frequent (nor do they have an extensive wine list.) And no, i wasn't focused on the cctv while we were dining. I was busy enough with other issues like making sure i was drinking from the correct glass of wine for each course.

                                                                                          In response to some of the other comments above, the fact that the area was under 'survelience' was not just for the convenience (?) of the patrons but there were legal reasons as well.