Shock Value: How Instagram Is Changing Restaurant Design

black and white stripes on a backdrop

Your pinky curls to support the bottom edge of your phone, while your index, middle and ring fingers fan across its back. This leaves your thumb free to swipe images up your screen, which spin in the roller-shade way of fruits on a slot machine. Now: What makes you stab your thumb down to pause that scroll? 

Chances are, if you’re looking at food, the post that stops you is something extreme. A while ago, it might have been the Black Tap milkshake—that Sputnik of  cake, whipped cream and candy exploding from a fountain glass. Maybe it’s the breast implant–looking Raindrop Cake, or some outlandish restaurant space. Did you know, restaurants and food shops now build “Instagram moments” into their décor? 

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Taking a page from Walt Disney World, which plots “Photo Spots” with curated backgrounds into their parks, businesses hoping for virality are designing IG backdrops. At Eataly’s La Pizza & La Pasta, there’s a multicolored ceiling of hanging yarns made to mimic pasta. Then there’s the OG “meat chandelier”—a ceiling dripping with  salumi—at  Calabria Pork Store on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx: Try to not snap a pic. What Instagram brings to food is this equation: extremism = virality = lines around the block.