Restaurants Crack Down on Instagrammers

Breaking news: everybody loves to play with their food. Don’t deny it; we do it too. But the strained relationship between top restaurants and “foodies” obsessed with documenting their every culinary experience appears to have reached a new stage that we’ll sum up with the phrase “Dude, seriously!

Why, when some restaurants have gone so far as to create virtual menus from diners’ Instagram pics, have some decided that enough is enough?

Well, five-star chef David Bouley calls the food-fetish scene “a circus” that can quickly get out of control, with some eaters setting portable tripods on their tables and others using their iPhone flash functions without considering the fact that this is extremely annoying to everyone around them. Gentleman Bouley describes his solution to The New York Times: As soon as he sees a diner pull the phone out, he offers to take him or her back into his restaurant’s kitchen to “shoot the plates as they come out.”

Great idea, right? But most chefs aren’t quite so nice:

David Chang, creator of the casual but highly acclaimed Momofuku Ko, forbids photos altogether. Hosts in restaurants like these will simply, politely ask diners to put their phones away. And if these amateur photographers insist? There may be trouble. Oh yeah: we haven’t even discussed that one friend who always insists on taking a perfect pic of everybody’s entree before they dig in.

Most restaurateurs are happy to share professional photos of their food with the public, but of course everyone wants the “instant gratification” that comes from immediately sharing one’s meal with dozens or hundreds of friends and followers. We see this as a PR problem.

And we get it: Dining is not just about food, it’s also about atmosphere. The fact that New York’s most expensive restaurants also happen to be its quietest reaffirms the need for managers to snuff out those photographic urges before they affect everyone’s dining experience.

So tell us: Some up and coming restaurants see Instagram pics as free PR, but established spots and upscale eateries don’t really need them. What should they do to combat the trend? And how far is too far? Can a restaurant curb Instagrammers without alienating part of its customer base?