With the rise of online restaurant reviews and the omnipresent pre-meal selfie, there’s not much of the dining experience left to the imagination.
Now, a new restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y. is capitalizing on society’s fascination with reality TV and the food industry by broadcasting a live stream of the establishment’s daily activities.
Live on Air, which opened in early January, is the brainchild of owner Joe Barbour who thought of the idea "after watching ‘The Truman Show’ in 1998," reports Eater. In the blockbuster, Jim Carrey plays a man whose entire life is broadcast for all to see. It only took 17 years for the technology to catch up with Barbour’s dream-- in a reasonably affordable way.
At the restaurant, broadcast times vary depending on the day of the week but if you’re in the kitchen or the dining room during service hours, you’ll probably be seen by someone tuning in. Since opening night, Barbour and his employees have broadcast segments about 50 live streaming sessions on Periscope and Facebook. One Facebook video showing a blindfolded taste-test reached around 1,500 people, though typical viewership ranges between 100 to 200 people—afterall, unless you’re in “Hell’s Kitchen,” a lot of the chef’s work includes repetitive chopping and cooking.
The menu at Live On Air is an ode to Southern fare with some creatively named classics like macaroni and cheese (Mac & “Say Cheese) and “Broadcast Nachos.”
According to Eater, many of the streams have been focused on staff and behind the scenes activities and less geared toward diners but Barbour aims to change that. Patrons who agree to live broadcast their own “Live” experience on Facebook Live or Twitter get 10 percent off their meal.
"It's difficult to incorporate customers into the broadcast when there are no customers," he said. "Getting customers into the room, marketing the restaurant, and getting people comfortable with what a live broadcast restaurant is all about is a learning curve for the guests and for us, as well."
Still, the future may include additional ways of sharing. Barbour said that “Live on Air's” website may eventually provide real-time feeds of the dining room and the kitchen, too.
"As we start having DJs come in on the weekends, we'll be doing live broadcasts of their sets,” he said. “And as all the technology issues get ironed out — as our audio and our video snags start to un-snag — we'll definitely be doing more stuff where the cameras are just running over the bar or the kitchen, and not so much starting and stopping."
In an age of social media oversaturation, the future of “Live on Air” is unknown but whatever happens will be documented.
“Quite simply, it’s not the place to cheat on your wife,” Barbour said. “You never know when you’re going to be caught on camera.”