Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh and their no photo policy

I have read a few blog posts now where people warn against taking photos, or at least asking politely, at certain restaurants and cafes. Even though my blog is still in it’s youth I have been avidly taking photos of food for many years. Lunch at Cafe Sopra was the first time I have been asked not to take photos and to be honest I was a bit stunned.
It seems to me that if you use your common sense about when it is appropriate or not to get your camera out you shouldn’t get into too much trouble. I didn’t take photos at the Waterside Inn or Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley as I didn’t feel it was an appropriate atmosphere for photos but my camera was going crazy at The Fat Duck.  I am discrete, I don’t use a flash and only take a tiny point and shoot to restaurants.

I thought I had used my common sense at Sopra. It’s a very relaxed place, in fact it sits above the Fratelli Fresh warehouse in Danks Street, Waterloo. Fratelli Fresh stocks fresh food and produce for commercial use by restaurants. They also open their doors to the public to purchase the same stock as the restaurants, such as Iggy’s bread, smoked trout, olive oil, herbs, imported pasta and cheese etc etc.

I managed to briefly snap two pictures before being politely asked not to take photos. Unfortunately they were before the food arrived, so no food shots. 

It was another steamy day in Sydney, the place was very busy and I sat at the bar very close to the till. They have some new wines from Italy on their menu and a ’08 Paolo Sordo from Roero Arneise, Piemonte ($9.50 a glass) was recommended to me as a crisp dry wine. Loved it so much I had a second.

Sitting so close to the till I heard one of the waitresses come past mentioning to the other that she had to tell someone else not to take photos. So curious to know why, I asked. The waitress said the owner doesn’t want any of his team photographed in a compromising position and that the concept is his original idea and he doesnt want anyone to copy it.

Interesting, yes the produce warehouse/cafe is a great idea but hardly ground breaking and it’s open for anyone to walk into, you don’t need a camera to copy ideas. I don’t get it. I think there is more to the story than just stealing concepts.

All being said, the staff were very polite and happy even though it was hot and they were woking hard. I could sit then and enjoy my meal thinking it was a bit crazy but knowing I wasn’t the only one told ‘no photos’ today and I wont be the last.

The smoked trout fishcake with soft boiled egg and a herb and caper mayonnaise ($20) came out looking like it might not fill me, with one fishcake on the plate but it was huge and the potato mix inside the crispy fried 2 inch thick fishcake definitely did the trick.

My eyes being larger than my tummy decided that I must try some dessert too. Orange cake with almond sorbetto. Baked in a flan tin with thinly sliced orange decorating the top with the almond sorbetto melting into it. It was great but I could only manage half, yes too full.

If you want to see a post of someone who managed to get some photos here is the link to one by Grab Your Fork

12 thoughts on “Cafe Sopra at Fratelli Fresh and their no photo policy

  1. When I was there I managed to get photos of all my food, despite sitting at the bar, until a fellow in the kitchen spotted me and motioned one of the staff to ask me not to. It was polite, in your case, and not the first time I’ve been asked not to take photos but I have never, ever been told why. Intellectual copyright is a justified reason, but I agree that you are able to infringed another’s ideas without the need to take photos.

    But what’s important is that they do really good food here. I hear their banoffee pie is amazing, but I have yet to find a chance to get back there to try!

  2. I have never understood the “don’t take photo’s” stance of certain restaurants. Let’s face facts, IP does not stand a chance in hell, and to be honest I doubt that most are not doing something that someone else has not touched on or are doing.

    Then we have the other aspect of it. Generally at a restaurant you pay after the meal, some circumstances before, but basically you are paying for the food. I own it, you may have created it, but I am paying for ownership to allow me to eat it, then certainly I have a right to photograph it as I own it?

    I mean let’s face reality, it is food. We are not talking about industry breaking inventions with patents on them.

  3. I don’t get it either. As said before, anyone can copy a concept without photos, and restaurants with no-photo policy are missing out on the great publicity that food blogs can give them. They may be turning people away too, if that happened to me, I probably wouldn’t have stayed.

  4. Interesting post. I guess, as we’re on private property, they are allowed to ask us not to take photos. I’m always worried about “getting into trouble” for taking photos, I guess I have a guilty conscience or something…lol. That said, social media (like blogs and twitter) can be good word of mouth and great free publicity – readying blogs is the whole reason I went to Ms G’s on Saturday night and waited over 90 minutes for a table. I think a lot of places are probably worried about “non-qualified writers / foodies” bagging their food. I like pretty much everything that goes into my mouth so no risk of that from moi.

  5. Probably why I tend not to lug my dlsr around when dining out, even taking the point and shoot out sometimes feels like I’m committing some kind of crime in some places. Their place their rules I suppose but it’s a shame u didn’t get any photos to show what a great meal you had =).

  6. Sorry to be blunt, but the owner sounds like a damn fool! Photographs used for reviews will not in any way compromise his ‘original idea’. Does he/she honestly think they are the only and first person to come up with this concept? Maybe he/she should do some research on copyright laws in Australia. And I totally agree with Sara regarding the ownership of the food. But it’s nice to see you have a lovely meal and the wait staff were courteous, regardless.

    • I can only guess that maybe a blogger wrote a bad review of the place??? hence no photos allowed. I don’t know but the waitresses said they get into trouble if they are caught not telling people to stop.

  7. The no-photo policy is a little hard to fathom. I’ve been asked a few times but not during my visit at Cafe Sopra above. It’s their right to stake this claim, but I think it is a shame, especially when bloggers are generally all about celebrating food and sharing it with others.

  8. I guess that at least they are polite about asking and explaining why. A few places can be really quite abrupt. Mind you, situations like these are what camera phones are made for… Never the less, this place does sound good. I like the idea of wholesalers opening their doors for paying customers. It gives you confidence that their stuff is the real deal.

  9. I was attempting to take a pic with my iPhone and were told politely not to as well. I think the owner who comes up with this is a snob a actually – because the rule can be broken if you’re channel 7 program, a celebrity or a famous food blogger. His ‘idea’ wasn’t unique anyway – go to Melbourne or Tassie and you see better markets / cafes.

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