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Do You Have A Reservation? Restaurants May Be Googling You

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Restaurants May Be Googling You

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 Your restaurant may be Googling you, so be sure to disclose your wine preference in your online profiles.

A report on food blog GrubStreet, part of New York Magazine, stated at least one maitre d' at a chi-chi Manhattan restaurant routinely does Google searches of his patrons. It's not done in an NSA spying kind of way, but a customer-service kind of way.

At 3:30 p.m., in the back office of Eleven Madison Park, maître d' Justin Roller is Googling the names of every guest who will come in that night. It's a well-known tactic of the restaurant, an effort to be as familiar as possible with the diners. Anyone can Google some names and faces, but Roller is going deeper. "I'm looking for chef's whites and wine glasses,"  he says. A shot of a guest wearing whites means a chef is probably coming to dinner. Wine glasses signify a potential sommelier (or at least a wine geek). If, for example, Roller discovers it's a couple's anniversary, he'll then try to figure out which anniversary. If it's a birthday, he'll welcome a guest, as they walk in the door, with a "Happy Birthday."

For Roller, this is merely part of the unforgettable experience he hopes to give to customers. He also tries to pair servers with those from out-of-state or similar interests. The training in the restaurant is extreme -- including a 97-page training booklet -- but the training is supposed to "disarm customers with their graciousness and care," rather than creepily spy on them.

In the end, customers will be surprised at how well the maitre d' and servers seemed anticipate their needs -- not quite knowing how much their online information may have played a part.

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