Turns out a moment of awkwardness wasn’t the worst that could happen when a popular family restaurant chain unleashed indoor aircraft with the mission of prompting diners to kiss on camera.
TGI Friday’s much-hyped “Mobile Mistletoe” drones drew first blood in their New York City debut on Dec. 4 at the chain’s beloved Sheepshead Bay location when one of them hit our intrepid photographer right in the face.
The two remote-controlled helicopters dangling sprigs of mistletoe were intended to spread holiday romance, but one of them flew out of control and clipped Courier photographer Georgine Benvenuto in the nose with one of its spinning, uncovered blades.
“It literally chipped off a tip of my nose,” said Benvenuto, using tissues to stanch the blood. “It took off part of my nose and cut me here, right under my chin.”
Benvenuto said she’s just thankful she wasn’t blinded in the name of love.
“Thank god it didn’t go anywhere under my eye — that is my livelihood.”
Drone operator David Quiones said an accident like this had never happened before, and even blamed our reporter for the bloodshed.
Quiones had encouraged our reporter to let him land the smaller of the two aircraft on her hand, but she flinched when the 10-inch drone touched down — and he said that is what caused the four-bladed flying machine to careen into the face of our photographer nearby. But Benvenuto insisted that the responsibility lies with the man operating the controls.
“He is the one controlling it — he needs to be more careful,” she said.
A spokeswoman for TGI Friday’s insisted that earlier Mobile Mistletoe events in Long Island and Texas incurred no casualties and dismissed concerns about further injuries — even from the much larger, 23-inch drone sporting six uncovered propellers — saying that customers will stay clear of the whirling, five-inch blades.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com