Two local restaurants have installed surveillance cameras that allow people sitting at home to watch people at the restaurants chow down. The idea is to let the viewers decide whether the restaurants are worth checking out, or if the vibe just isn’t right.

Gabriela’s Restaurant and Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table, both on Columbus between 93rd and 94th, are streaming images of their dining rooms on Gander.TV.

“We expect that the live-feed info-casts from will enable us to better leverage social media to attract and keep clients. In this age of digital marketing, it’s extremely difficult to distinguish your brand.  With live streaming video and audio, we believe that we will we have a more effective approach to getting our message out to customers who may be considering our venues for dinner and fun,” said Nat Milner, who owns both restaurants, in a release about the new service.

But what about people who don’t want home viewers watching them dribble their Bolognese sauce down their chins on live TV? I’m also not entirely clear that this setup really helps the restaurants. Indoor livestreams can look a tad depressing, even when the spaces themselves are bright and inviting. Elizabeth’s, which prides itself on having a kind of small-town charm, looks a little like a bar playing “Pianoman” on repeat in its livestream. Gabriela’s looks a little better, but also invokes just a touch of sadness, particularly when you see some guy sitting alone (“I’ve been there buddy,” I whisper to the screen. “Hang in there.”).

Or maybe I’m being too harsh. Is this our brave new world? Let us know in our poll and in the comments.

Restaurant livestreams are

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ABSURDITY, FOOD, NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Phil says:

      Just wrong.

    2. jerry says:

      Why on earth would I want to watch you eat?
      Of course, Facebook and Tweeter are empowering the wish-a-bees. As the pendulum swings, there will come a time when privacy will again be a valuable commodity.
      And we will eat in peace.

    3. Jeannette says:

      Wrong, Inappropriate, and illegal (Someone cannot take your photos, for example, and “publish” it without your permission. This is the video equivalent of publishing your photo without your express permission.)

      Are diners asked before entry, being seated if they will allow themselves to be photographed? Do they even know?

      FYI: This is also a very poor PR idea. If anything, the more people who find out about this and the more they protest (and many will), the worse for these two places.

      Spread the word. Cross these two venues off my list for local dining.

    4. David T says:

      I LOVE Gabriela’s. But I don’t need them broadcasting me eating there. If I want to Tweet/Foursquare it, that’s one thing. No need for them to do this.

      As for Elizabeth’s – let’s get the food in better shape and then we can talk.

      And I’m in PR. This will cause backlash. Please, managers, if you’re reading this, put an end to it now and say it was an experiment in Social Media and was wrong. Dead. Wrong.

    5. Amie Lee says:

      First of all people, relax. You can’t even see details of people. No one could possibly catch “bolognese dripping from your chin..” or whatever else. Lets not completely panic. I understand what you mean, but the inflamed sense of paranoia seems silly. I do think I’d like to check out what a place was like before I went. I have 3 kids, paying a babysitter for the time I take wandering around trying to find what I want is annoying. Sounds good to have a preview.

      • Gothamist says:

        Then may I suggest reading a Zagat, Menupages or other viable and LEGAL resource. “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.” – Ben Franklin

    6. Jenna Smart says:

      Did an old person write this? I’m 24 and every time I go out when I look around, everyone has their phones out making videos or pix and posting to FB. You are probably in some and you dont even know. This sounds like an older person who isn’t down with the tech wave that IS what is cool now. Maybe I don’t want to look at these people, but I’d love to watch friends dancing and hanging out at a bar.

    7. 102415 says:

      Double creepy.

    8. lee says:

      brilliant. can’t really distinguish people but just the feel of the atmosphere. great for bars and clubs

    9. jason says:

      It’s presented poorly. The owner’s quote sounds like a sales pitch from the Gander website. No one naturally speaks like that. It’s definitely not brilliant, but it’s not creepy either. It’s a kind of average idea. The video’s are not live so I don’t really learn anything that any other review site teaches. Seamless is a brilliant idea. Gabriella’s would get a lot more business from signing up for that website.

    10. Jenna Smart says:

      Yes, better for bars and clubs. Still cool though.

    11. George says:

      Didn’t your mom teach you table manners??? If your worried about people watching bolognese sauce dripping down you face, it sounds like you shouldn’t go out at all, so stay at home with our tv diner and cats!

    12. Jorge says:

      I don’t want to watch people eat nor have them watch me…

    13. Steve Novosad says:

      What are the legalities of this, if any?

    14. JO says:

      There are times I don’t want to go to a restaurant that is crowded. The live cam gives me a chance to check out the scene at various places and decide whether or not I want to go. I also wish they would do this at the gym, so I could check from home whether the gym is jammed or empty before I head over.

    15. UWS Wally says:

      Well that’s two restaurants that will lose my patronage.

    16. Bec says:

      Yeah, I won’t eat at either of these places ever again. Creepy and Big Brother-ish.