I love spreading word of mouth about things that are remarkable. But last week a small restaurant tried shut me down in my efforts to do so.
Whenever I go to San Francisco I schedule my business calendar so that I can have breakfast at Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building. The food is extraordinary, the restaurant design remarkable. So while waiting for my breakfast I took out my Droid to snap a couple of photos to share with you. Because no words can quite capture the beauty of this small little space.
After the click, owner and renowned chef Amaryll Schwertner came over and asked me to stop taking photos immediately. It was against her policy.
“But why,” I asked. “I wrote a book about word of mouth and like to spread the word about great experiences, and photos are a great way to do that.”
“We’ve had a lot of problems with people taking photographs and stealing our ideas,” she explained. “Photographs of our restaurant have ended up in places without our permission. We need to control who takes photos.”
The exchange left me cold and wondering. Just what could anyone “steal” by taking a picture of a little restaurant? A restaurant’s assets are its food, its service, and its vibe. How can one steal that total experience in a one-dimensional photo?
And why be fearful of letting people take a picture and spread word of mouth, the most vital marketing for a restaurant. Sure, my photos aren’t professional but I doubt I would hurt the restaurant’s image.
My advice for all businesses and Boulette’s Larder is to let go of fear, and let people who love you spread the love, especially with photos. The greater the love, the less likely that any negative remarks or pirate photos will ever hurt your reputation.
Here’s a photo of the restaurant taken from Boulette’s web page. I hope I don’t get reprimanded again.