when a restaurant displays dishes from their menu, say by the front door, does it actually attract people to eat there or deter them? a favorite thai spot of mine does this and it irks me every time i walk in. i found out about this place on chowhound so i knew it was good, but if it had not been recommended and i was just walking by for the first time i would get the impression that it was a cheesy restaurant and not eat there. i understand that the idea is for people to see it and hope that they say "that looks good! let's eat here!" but does that ever happen? this also extends to dessert trays/carts being wheeled to the table, as well as the "dog and pony show" that they perform at steakhouses such as Morton's and the like.
personally, i find it kind of strange and sometimes gross. i can't decide if i'm more offended by real food on display or the plastic replicas of food on display. though sometimes those plastic replicas are downright hilarious!