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Pictures of food - good or tacky?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hello everybody.
I'm Serge and I'm new to this forum. The reason I joined it is I want your guys opinion on the following:

I am installing a couple of touch-screen menu displays for one of my restaurant-owner-friends at the entrance and in the waiting area of his restaurant, to let him inform his clients about his offerings, and let them find all menus, events, promotions, reviews, etc. - by simply touching the screen - while looking at the menu or waiting to be seated. To many it seems a good idea for both sides: for the owner - to promote and up-sell his menus; for patrons - to get more useful information - see how food/cocktails/desserts look, read reviews and about chef, see different rooms' decor, check upcoming events, with more descriptions, in different languages (for tourists), etc.

And of course, I've heard a couple of negative comments that showing pictures of food in a table-service restaurant is tacky and "fast-foody".

My argument is: If the layout of my presentation is classy and fits the lifestyles of the prestaurant, if the content is more informative than flashy, if the photography is great, if people can find answers to all their FAQs at one point of information, why not?

I would like to hear your opinion and thank you all in advance.

My best,
Serge
post #2 of 25

maybe

just have a few signature dishes, things that have real wow factor, with really classy looking garnish, styling etc , i wouldnt overload it with lots of pictures as that would look look nasty imo
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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post #3 of 25
I've never seen a picture of a menu item that looked like the dish as served. Personally, I think the idea and concept as described is tacky, and I'd probably not eat at a "classy" place that provided this feature. If I want pictures of the menu items, I'll go to Burger King and order through a speaker box.

scb
post #4 of 25
I like pictures.....a photo answers a whole lot of questions. So how many of these "terminals" would be in the reception area? If it's one like a television that's detracting, if there with friends I don't want to talk over a loop. If there by myself or with friends that are interested then having the option of seeing it and answering questions would be great.

Downside is that the kitchen doesn't recreate the dishes to look like the photos, I'll be ticked.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
But all restaurants (including classy ones) place pictures of food and cocktails on their websites, to show people what they offer, to lure them in.
And, if you go to France or China, or Greece, and go out for a dinner (assuming you don't speak the language), wouldn't it help to understand the menu by seeing the food and reading translated description?
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you - good point..
There's only one terminal at the entrance - for the passers-by (as a substitute of a traditional menu stand), and one at the waiting lobby by host stand, for those waiting for a table. So, basically, they are not in the dining area - so you won't be distracted by them. But while you are waiting for your table - isn't it great to see pictures of food, drinks, desserts, to find answers to "how big is that?", "how many shrimp is in this..?", "what is cous cous?", etc, etc. And, you might already decide what you want to eat before you're seated (that'll help owner turn tables faster).

Regarding the kitchen's recreation: I think a certain dish usually looks more or less consistent and recognizeable. And, it will actually help kitchen guys to keep the consistency of presentation, knowing that this is how people saw this dish at the first place - so it could be an advantage...
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you Tessa.
For rotation - of course - it shouldn't be overloaded with images - only few specialties, hosted events, maybe special deals (happy hour, prix-fixe dinner, etc.), or maybe no rotation at all. But eMenuBoard is also a touch-screen menu. So there's one picture of an item on the menu screen at a time. If you want to see another item - you just touch it, and it's picture and description appear. The same way you can see the critics' reviews, decor, events, etc. - you find it if you look for it.
post #8 of 25
A web site isn't a brick and mortar web site. The web is a different animal entirely. In addition, not all restairants put pictures of their food on their site. In fact, few, if any, of the better restaurants we frequent have pictures. Some have apicture of food as a decorative item, but none that I can think of have pictures of their menu items.

BTW, how would you deal with a restaurant that changes their menu frequently? Availability of ingredients, season, special deals offered to the restaurant, the mood of the chef all determone what's on the menu.


A translated description is, IMO, more valuable than a picture.

scb
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Our touch-screen menu display is very elegant and resembles traditional menu-stand diplays - they are not ATM-looking bulky kiosks and fit into fine-dining atmosphere of restaurants and hotel. The pics of items are on demand - if people want to see how a particuar item/event/etc looks, they touch it and - voila - they get a picture and description(+recommended wines, nutri info, etc. if needed). If not touched - it could be statically on a welcome page, or menu page, or slowly rotating some few specialties, events, etc.

Good question about changing menus frequently - and I have a perfect answer:
Our software is very easy-to-use and specifically designed for restaurant owners/managers - they can update any menu, item, picture, information, language within minutes, online, from any computer at anytime.
That's the beauty of out eMenuBoards - chefs and owners can tailor their presentations to changing marketing situations like holiday menus, special promotions, events, seasonal menus, or even daily - prix-fixe, pre-theater, happy hours, chef's mood, availability, today's specials, etc. - on the go.
post #10 of 25
I agree with Shel. As "fine dining," the whole thing is tacky and it doesn't matter how tastefully it's handled. It's simply an idea whose time has not yet come within the context. Context is what it's all about. A good restaurant wants to take its patrons away from the difficult and mundane to an island of rational and elegant sensuality. As McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," and the message you send with interactive electronics and back-lit pictures is inconsistent with that island.

In a different culture, Korean or Singapore for instance, the cultural context would be different and the idea entirely appropriate. Here though, it's "Airport Hotel" at best. Is that what you want your customers to expect?

BDL
post #11 of 25
Fine dining may not be the best venue for that sort of thing, but I can think of a lot of places where it would be very useful. In my casino, we are regularly having to buy new menu transparencies for the light boxes to advertise special holiday menus, events and such. If there was a tool that would allow us to create something interactive ourselves it would save us a lot of time, money and hassle. We could also promote players club specials, upcoming concerts, events, wine walks. I think that in the right place, such a system would be very useful. I guess Vegas can be kind of tacky at times though. If you can pull off a pirate ship fight in front of your hotel, I think an interactive display is pretty mundane by comparison.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #12 of 25
I think you have to be very careful how this is presented to avoid looking tacky. I was recently in a good hotel, huge foyer with a two rosette restaurant at the far end. As usual I was itching to get over there and study the menu, and then I saw the screen "Oh no" I said to my wife "I really hate these things" But I have to say it was tastefully done, one of those flat screen plasma jobs with only half a dozen images fading in and out, no text, no description. And then there was a page saying "Visit our restaurant etc etc. This is the one and only time I have seen it and liked it. Oh and they were professional photos too. In my opinion, its ok if done in a large establishment and done tastefully, only a few items though, definately not the whole menu. But, for the small opereator like myself, I would never do it. I like to project the image of fresh, local and seasonal, and it is near impossible to recreate a dish that looks like a picture, even if its your own picture, although I'm not sure that that is what people expect.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Actually - yes, we market eMenuBoards to hotels, to promote their in-house dining.
I don't think our digital menu is something "difficult" - our interface is extremely user-friendly and simple. eMenuBoard is based on FAQs usually asked by diners. And multi-lingual option is very helpful for foreign customers. It also helps to keep restaurant facade neat and free of muliple menus, events posters, critics reviews, hours of operation, today's specials, promoptional deals, payment options, announcements, service signs, etc.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
What casino are you at? We actually offer our eMenuBoards to hotels, resorts and casinos. ..and currently discussing installations with a couple of Vegas hotels.
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post links here as a new user, but if you are interested, you may find information online about our application under the name eMenuBoard or MyTouchMenu (or give me your contacts) - and I would be happy to discuss it with you. You're right - it's perfect for Vegas hotels and their gaming, promotions, multiple restaurants, events, etc.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
On our digital menu the pictures of menu items and other images (events flyers, decor images, critics review, etc.) are hidden, they only appear when user touches this item on a menu list. And the menu list looks like a regular traditional print-out menu. So, it's not cheesy and not overloaded with pictures, etc - but very neat.
post #16 of 25
For fine dining, I expect to have a human being describe the dishes to me (hostess with knowledge, etc). It seems cheap to make the customer do the work. Also, in fine dining, I would hope not to be sitting in a reception waiting for a table for too long (fine dining places take reservations). I would be annoyed by a computer thingy in the reception area. But that's just me.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you.
It would help if the hostess is busy and have no time to describe dishes, or if she's not that good in doing it, or if some people do not like talking to hostesses. Btw, in some good restaurants it can take up to 30 minutes to get a table during busy hours - because they are good :)
The menu list on our eMenuBoard looks like a regular print-out list when not touched, so people can just read it as they read print-out menu. IF they want to see an item, or an event, or interior (if it's not seen from outside) they just touch it (it's not so much work) - and its image (not too big) and description appears on the right. And, in the description - you can provide more info than on print-out menus - recommended wine, very short history of the dish, etc. - to create a "story", to intrigue patrons..
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your comment..
It would help if the hostess is busy and have no time to describe dishes, or if she's not that good in doing it, or if some people do not like talking to hostesses. Btw, in some good restaurants it can take up to 30 minutes to get a table during busy hours - because they ARE good :)
The menu list on our eMenuBoard looks like a regular print-out list when not touched, so people can just read it as they read print-out menu. IF they want to see an item, or an event, or interior decor (if it cannot be seen) they just touch it (it's not so much work) - and its image (not too big) and description appears on the right. And, in the description - you can provide more info than on print-out menus - recommended wine, very short history of a dish, etc. - to create a "story", to intrigue patrons..
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yes, we actually market eMenuBoards to hotels and resorts for their in-house dining promotion. They love it, as it increases hospitality to their international clientele with pictures and multi-lingual options..
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, there is such a tool - eMenuBoard. We won an award for the Best New Product in hospitality technology at the last IH/M&RS 2007. We're already discussing it with a couple of Vegas hotels - it's a perfect fit for them.
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
eMenuBoard is not an advertising display, it's just an upgraded subsitute of your traditional external menu, so you don't have to make your food look better than it is in real life - but to show the regular presentation and ingridients. It's more for information purposes, to answer patrons Frequently Asked Questions
post #22 of 25
Serge,

I'm not very bright, so sometimes it takes me awhile to tumble to the obvious. It's dawning on me that you're not asking, you're selling. I resent it. Slow-mo spam is still spam.

From this you can't make musubi,
BDL
post #23 of 25
If the restaurant hires a hostess that is too busy to have time to describe the dishes or worse, if she's not that good, then what kind of kitchen staff will the restaurant have?!

Imho, if your device is in the reception area, it's a sign that I'd better eat somewhere else because the restaurant is incapable of hiring decent help.
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
good point.. but isn't a picture worth a thousand words?

if the place is packed - for me it's a good sign that food must be good here even if the hostess is busy doing her job .. if she is really busy running around checking tables, seating guests, taking reservations, etc., I personally (out of mere understanding) wouldn't bother her with a bunch of questions about the menu, I'd rather look at the digital menu and quickly find all answers..

it would also help a foreigner, who doesn't speak English well to understand hostess' descriptions, no matter how good they are.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am not selling, as I dont' provide any links whatsoever.. I'm just debating if our new device is a good application for the industry (btw, we won the Best New Product Award on IH/M&RS 2007), to have an opinion of the professionals, and yes - I try to prove its advantages, maybe that's why it seems like selling. Don't worry - we have other channels to market it, rather than a forum.
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