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A cafe in Melbourne’s inner north has banned customers from taking photos and videos after they were inundated by influencers following a visit from pop star Harry Styles.
Styles visited Japanese cafe and design store Cibi on Collingwood’s backstreets when he toured Australia in February, ordering their signature breakfast and a green tea.
Cibi’s owners Zenta and Meg Tanaka.
At the time Cibi co-owner Meg Tanaka said other guests either didn’t notice the megastar or were very restrained, allowing Styles to enjoy his meal outside, before he browsed the Japanese homewares.
She said then that “surprisingly not too many” Harries (the term for Styles’ fans) visited Cibi, but in the months since, people visiting the cafe to post on social media had become problematic.
Signs on the walls now say the taking of photos or videos is banned.
Harry Styles at Cibi paying for the cafe’s signature Japanese breakfast and a green tea.Credit: Redrussiancaravan69 Instagram
“This is a photography-free venue,” the signs say. “To continue providing the best possible experience, we ask that you please respect the privacy of our customers and staff and refrain from taking photos or videos in our store. Thank you for your understanding.”
Posts on TikTok featuring Cibi include “Grace and I try out Cibi cafe where Harry Styles went Lol”, “Harry Styles was here” and “Checking out this Harry Styles approved cafe”.
While many hospitality venues rely heavily on social media for publicity, some have tired of being used as a photo shoot set.
Earlier this year the New York Times reported that Folderol, a natural wine bar and artisanal ice cream parlour in Paris, hired a bouncer and banned TikTok after it was overrun by people taking photographs and videos.
“They don’t even taste the ice cream,” owner Jessica Yang said of the social media crowd.
Cibi’s signs banning photos and videos at the cafe and design store. Credit: Cara Waters
Folderol put up a sign next to its front door that read, in English: “No TikTok” and “Be here to have fun, not to take pictures.”
Violetta Wilk, senior lecturer and researcher in digital and social media marketing at Edith Cowan University, said she was not surprised Cibi had been inundated by customers posting on social media after Styles’ visit.
“People want to be where Harry Styles was, they want to be cool and trendy and looked up to on social media. It is part of connecting those social networks that we rely on every day,” she said. “People do it to enhance their own visibility.”
However, Wilk warned that banning photos and videos was a “short-term strategy” for cafes and restaurants.
Cafe and design store Cibi has banned photos and videos. Credit: Mark Roper
“In this day and age, most customers read reviews, they check out their friends’ posts and comments about hospitality venues before making a decision to dine there,” she said. “Most customers won’t consider a business with negative reviews, or if there are none.”
Joanna Reymond, founder of public relations firm Reymond Communications, said the firm’s hospitality clients recognised the value in hosting content creators.
“They not only showcase a venue to a wider, targeted audience, but act as incredible conduits for trusted recommendations,” she said.
Hospitality operator Tom Allan opened Pincho Disco near Cibi on Friday, and said social media was very important for the restaurant’s launch.
“Having guests or content creators share their real experience goes a long way to engendering trust and reputation and that is really important for a new venue like ours,” he said. “People taking photos at a restaurant is not just for sharing, they might be celebrating a birthday or anniversary or some private moment that means a lot to them.”
Cibi’s owners Zenta and Meg Tanaka declined to comment.
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