Do restaurants have the right to ban… influencers?

This month a New York eatery made waves when it boldly made a new rule banning influencers from recording content on their premises. The popular cafe in Brooklyn named Dae made the contentious stance after the owners got fed up with the chaos caused by influencers using their space to film content.

"We love food and drink photos (clearly) … but the TikToks and Instagram photoshoots have gotten a bit out of control for us," read a caption on the cafe's Instagram story.

They then went on to define the rules stating that content creators are welcome to take pictures but filming using tripods and other equipment was off limits.

Watch: Influencers fake going to festival Coachella. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube.

The whole saga begs the question – do restaurants, cafes and bars have the right to straight-up ban influencers from making the content? 

In recent years as influencer culture has grown into quite a beast, we're seeing more and more hospitality venues put their foot down by making rules or guidelines that patrons must adhere to.


In the case of Dae, the venue's co-owner explained to Curbed the driving factor behind their decision to ban influencers from filming content.

"People were coming in and literally doing photo shoots – they would just get one drink and stay for two hours shooting," said Carol Song. "It's a free-for-all – no one's regulating the TikTokers.

"I didn't want to be a place where people just come and go for the trend. I regret we didn't do it from the beginning. But I did not know it was going to get to this level."

A quick search on TikTok or Instagram and you’ll see endless vlogs and pictures from inside Dae with glowing reviews of the venue. On one hand, you can see how this user-generated content can drum up hype for a business. But on the other hand, having influencers take over your place of business might be totally disruptive to employees and customers.

@chewyorkcity Tried my first Misugaru latte here and I cant wait to come back to have another🍞☕️ #carollgardens #brooklyn #koreancafe #wellnesstrends #nyccafe #nycopening ♬ La belle vie - Sacha Distel

Back in 2020 a cafe in Taipei, Taiwan took a far more heavy-handed approach when it went public with its complete ban of influencers. 

Mittsume Desserts posted on Instagram to announce their statement, which read: "From today onwards, influencers are strictly banned."

After copping a fair bit of backlash for their influencer ban, the owners doubled down on the sentiments and released a more detailed set of rules. The guidelines included:

  • No standing on chairs for photo-taking.
  • No taking photos with other customers' meals.
  • No moving of shop furniture for photo-taking.
  • No outside food allowed.
  • No photography of other customers.

It seems the owners were not only miffed with influencers disrespecting their space but their feelings of contempt for the influencer culture became very clear.


"We understand if you want to document a cake you ate today or a nice corner of the cafe; we will not interfere with that. We may even be amazed that this cafe can be photographed so beautifully. But contemporary internet culture and the culture of social media tagging has seriously crossed the line. All for a pretty picture of oneself," the owners explained.

More locally we are seeing this growing trend of banning influencers seeping through to restaurants and cafes. 

In 2019 Adelaide-based chef Duncan Welgemoed took a My Kitchen Rules influencer to task for asking for a free meal at his restaurant.

In an email written to Duncan, the person asked: "We would love to come over on Saturday for dinner, in exchange, I can post food shots and stories on my Instagram page. I've got a very high engagement rate." 

In response, Duncan replied: "You do not generate any hype nor actual dollars for any business you post about. The ATO, suppliers, nor staff care about exposure."

At the core of the issue, it seems like these businesses are starting to poke holes in the idea of an influencer being beneficial to their operations. The engagement these influencers yield is but a pin-drop in the ocean of content these days, and furthermore, their requests for free meals can feel quite disingenuous. 


And if you've ever been a fellow patron in a venue while an influencer films content, it can feel kind of jarring to your own experience. Sure, they might not be bothering you too much but you're almost hyperaware of their presence.

I'm also acutely aware that for many food content creators, this is their job and source of income. They have every right to pursue that. But perhaps what should be more commonplace is an open dialogue with the venue influencers are proposing to film at – rather than asking for freebies, ask the owners for permission to create content. 

You never know it might just lead to a great partnership or they may politely decline. Either way, there's a level of respect and consent which goes a long way. And if a venue has introduced an influencer ban, just know there are plenty more fish/cafes in the sea.

But sometimes, the less constant photos – the better. 

One of my favourite places to dine is a Sydney restaurant called Bistecca. Before you're seated, a waiter will invite you to lock your phone away for the evening which you can collect once you've finished dining. It doesn't feel forceful but instead a gentle suggestion that perhaps for a few hours you can remove the temptation to check your phone and engage with your fellow diners. 

It's a nice reminder to be present and that not everything needs to be filmed to be remembered.

Feature Image: Getty.