Seattle entrepreneur Dave Meinert named The Five Point Cafe a Google Glass free zone before the devices were even available. But a Glass-wearing customer was asking for an explanation — and, potentially, to have an employee fired — when he was told earlier this week he couldn’t use the wearable computer in one of Meinert’s newer businesses, the 24-hour Lost Lake Cafe and Lounge.
Google Glass user Nick Starr wrote on his Facebook page that he had worn the device at the restaurant a number of times and “even had staff ask me about it and to check it out.” This time, though, he said he was asked to put it away or leave.
“I inform (the employee) that I am well aware of the policy at The 5 Point Cafe but asked to see where it was policy for Glass to be disallowed at Lost Lake. She said she couldn’t provide any and when asked to speak with management she stated she was the night manager. I again inform her that the two venues are different and have different policies. She refuses and I leave,” he wrote. “As we are leaving, Brian (his partner) points out that on the menu they state “Post photos on our website via Instagram by using #LostLake.” So how is an establishment which is REQUESTING photos be taken, not allow me to bring a device which takes photos and can post to Instagram? I would love an explanation, apology, clarification, and if the staff member was in the wrong and lost the owner money last night and also future income as well, that this income be deducted from her pay or her termination.”
Meinert wrote in reply: “Nick — we like you, just thought it was understood that wearing Glass inside makes others uncomfortable. We’re not anti-Glass, they are useful in all sorts of ways. We just think there should be some rules around them. Sorry for the hassle. Please respect others.”
Starr answered, in part, that he wears the glasses all the time unless they are charging: “Life doesn’t stop simply because someone goes inside or out to dinner.”
The Lost Lake side of things was that “We recently had to ask a rude customer to leave because of their insistence on wearing and operating Google Glasses inside the restaurant,” according to a post on the restaurant’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.
The post went on to sharply lay out the official policy on Google Glass: “We kindly ask our customers to refrain from wearing and operating Google Glasses inside Lost Lake. We also ask that you not videotape anyone using any other sort of technology. If you do wear your Google Glasses inside, or film or photograph people without their permission, you will be asked to stop, or leave. And if we ask you to leave, for God’s sake, don’t start yelling about your ‘rights.’ Just shut up and get out before you make things worse.”
Meinert said in an email that the posts “trying to get the manager fired” were “beyond ridiculous. We would far rather 86 an entitled tech nerd than fire one of our awesome staff.”
Responses on the Lost Lake Facebook page were varied and passionate.
“You lost my business and probably dozens of my friends will be boycotting your establishment! Learn how the technology works! What if I wanted to take a picture of my food. … Idiots!” wrote one, apparently without irony.
Asked another, “How do you know he was filming and not just wearing the glasses? Does Lost Lake have cameras that ‘film or photograph’ people coming into the establishment?”
Another commented that “While out in the public streets people do not have an expectation of privacy, however when I am in a restaurant with my friends I do have an expectation of privacy and am glad that the owners of this restaurant are protecting their patrons.”
Your thoughts? Would you support other restaurants banning Glass and other devices that can surreptitiously film people (smartphones?) or not?