This is a tough one. In general, I’m okay with businesses restricting what customers can do. This isn’t the government, it’s a business, it’s private property, and the businesses have a lot of latitude to say what can be done with and on their property and facilities. If I don’t like it, I can take my business somewhere else (which is why it’s different from a government rule that applies everywhere).
Most people agree to turn off their cell phones in a movie theater, for instance. One part of the story claims the cell phone picture ban has the same motivation:
“It can shatter the experience when you’re asking your fiancé to marry you, and a flash is going off at a table next door,” said David Bouley, owner of Bouley Restaurant.
At Bouley, located on Duane Street in TriBeCa, a new protocol is in place. Guests may only take photos in the kitchen, and by next week, Bouley will be providing a photo to customers with the check.
Someone else in the story suggests it’s really about the restaurant controlling their image:
Steven Hall, a spokesman for dozens of other restaurants in New York City, said food photography is a phenomenon that more and more chefs cannot accept because of presentation.
“There’s no way you’re going to take a beautiful shot of food in a dimly-lit restaurant,” Hall said.
Some restaurants are banning cell phone pics entirely, others just food photographs. Some allow cell phone pics as long as there’s no flash.
I’m not crazy about the ban, but I go into museums that ban cameras or at least flash photography. I don’t see this as any different. If anything, a camera ban at, for instance, the Salvador Dali museum is more restrictive, since there isn’t another Salvador Dali museum across the street where I can take my business. If this it bothers me, I’ll just go to another restaurant.