A New York Restaurant that Spies on its Customers?

Imagine entering a restaurant, giving your name to the person at the reservations podium, and being asked, “So has your daughter heard back yet from any of the colleges she’s applied to?” How did they know you have a daughter, much less that she is applying to colleges? Before you can express your dismay, another member of the staff comes to escort you to your table, telling you as walk toward it, “You’ll enjoy talking with your waiter. Like you, he also played lacrosse in school.”

Your first impulse might be to look for Rod Serling’s ghost, who will confirm that you have entered the appetizer phase of your gastronomic journey to the Twilight Zone. In fact, you are in one of the Big Apple’s foremost restaurants, Eleven Madison Park. I’ve dined there, and the food is transporting, and the service is some of the most attentive you will experience anywhere on American soil.

But now, according to The Week, they’ve taken personalized attention to a new — and probably to some customers dismaying — level:

[M]âitre d’ Justin Roller googles everyone who has a reservation at the restaurant on any given night. He searches for personal information — birth date, anniversary, profession — so he can give proper salutations when the party arrives. Once he discovers something concrete, he jumps on it. “If I find out a guest is from Montana, and I know we have a server from there, we’ll put them together,” Roller explains.

It’s possible that some people will feel pampered and special by this treatment. But if you happen to be among the group of cynics who would prefer not to dine in a “place where everyone knows your name,” consider this a warning.

Note: Eleven Madison Park is currently closed for renovations, but is due to start accepting reservations again presently.


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