Kitchen "Propriatary" and Confidential

Many of you who follow the food scene in D.C. are probably already well aware of the D.C. Foodies v. Buck's Fishing and Camping saga. If not, you can read about the ensuing outcry here, here and here.

In a nutshell, Jason snaps a few pictures with a camera phone while dining at Buck's, chef Carole Greenwood finds out and confronts Jason, wife and baby, saying he needs her permission to use any photos, Greenwood's co-owner follows up with a peace offering of dessert wine, and all seems OK. Before Jason has a chance to post what he says would've been a positive review on his blog, he receives a cease and desist letter from Buck's lawyer, complete with misspellings and the client's name written incorrectly. The letter threatens legal action if the photos are used, claiming they are "confidential" and "propriatary"[sic].

So, I figured I'd weigh in, because as D.C. Foodie's wife said, all the cool bloggers are doing it. Much of the discussion is centered on the rights of restaurant owners and photographers, which I do find interesting (if only I could remember more from that media law and ethics class, Dr. Walden).

But with what I see as an egregious abuse of our legal system aside, this seems like an unfortunate example of what I call a stomp-through-lifer causing unnecessary conflict. You see their antics on both sides of the restaurant business. They are the people who view the world through smudged and cracked "us against them" glasses. The host who accuses customers of lying, the chef who accosts diners for ordering a steak medium-well. They are the customers who go out to eat looking to be slighted, waiting for a perceived wrongdoing so they can demand free dessert. "They must have seated us back here because they don't think we're dressed nicely enough!" they cry. "We must've been ignored by the sommelier because we look so young!" "They must be laughing at me! I'll slam them on the Internet."

These people spend a good deal of their lives in arguments, worrying about getting in arguments or accusing others of starting arguments. Conflict is their MO. I imagine it's very tiring.

As a New Year's resolution for these stomp-through-lifers, please remember to give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people, believe it or not, are not out to get you. That blogger shooting a camera picture of your food probably means no harm, so ask nicely, with tact, if you'd rather not have pictures taken in your restaurant. Say please and thank you. Try smiling while you're at it. The world will seem like a nicer place, I guarantee.

With that off my chest, I'm moving on, as has Jason, so let's get back to things that really matter, like what's for lunch...


Drew said...

Good grief. An establishment's owner certainly has every right to forbid photography within their place, regardless of the reason, but the cease and desist letter is a bit much. If you don't like their rules, you are free to eat elsewhere. But a follow-up e-mail asking that the photos not be used on the site would have been more than enough, especially when DCFoodie hasn't actually published the photos. No need to go with the nuclear option right off the bat.

Philofaxer said...

I really hope Greenwood goes public with a response. She strikes me as the kind of person who would definitely want to get her side out there.

Anonymous said...

This is utterly unrelated to today's post--sorry. . .

Do you know the extent to which restaurants in DC go through annual sanitation inspections (or any non-alcohol-related permitting, for that matter)? I'm from North Carolina, the land of bold letter grades posted plainly so you can know that you're eating something that was likely made in a kitchen that's either clean or totally infested.

My question's prompted in part because of a recent rumor I heard regarding a big-name restaurant on the DC foodie scene with rats--as in "rat," only plural--in the kitchen regularly.

Thanks--love your blog!!!

Anonymous said...

another un-related post:

I had brunch at La Cote D'Or (sp??!!) in Falls Church yesterday. I searched your blog and found no references to this restaurant. It is a little French restaurant and is quite amazing. Apart from being utterly authentic French food, it is life changing it's so good. I had French Onion soup, Crab Quiche, and a Raspberry Caramel dessert. You must try this place out--it's right off of 29/Lee Highway, next to the Econo Lodge (ugh--suburbia at its worst, but it's worth it).

dcbubble said...

I love a good food fight!

Merujo said...

I figure, if you've purchased the food, it's yours. Take pictures of it, rub it on your chest, put it in a ziploc for later consumption. If you're snapping photos of the restaurant itself, then, that's a different matter.

I guess I'm really a small town girl. When I go to a place that has the words "Fishing & Camping" in the name, I don't expect attitude from a snooty chef and a bill that will cover my groceries for the week. (And that's why I cook my steaks at home...)