When you eat at a restaurant, does your phone stay in your bag or pocket until the meal’s over? Or is the lure of your handset impossible to ignore, leaving you with your eyes fixed on its info-rich display as much as on those (humans) you’re dining with?
How much of a discount would a restaurant owner have to offer to persuade you to put your smartphone to one side and eat your meal the old fashion way, y’know, by having a conversation with your fellow diners? How about 5 percent? 10? Would 25 do it?
Israel-based restaurateur Jawdat Ibrahim has decided to be even more generous in a bid to get diners to interact with one another, offering a discount so huge that it comes as no surprise to learn that virtually every visitor to his establishment has happily banished their device from the table for the duration of their meal.
In an attempt to “change to culture of eating,” as he puts it, Ibrahim is offering a whopping 50 percent off the check for diners who
silence completely switch off their smartphones while eating at his restaurant – Abu Ghosh – located about six miles from Jerusalem.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP) about the incentive, Ibrahim said he felt dismayed seeing diners glued to their smartphone screens, with some so lost in their mobile device that they end up asking him to reheat their food.
“Technology is very good. But just when you eat, just especially when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company,” he told the AP recently. “A lot of people, they sit down and they don’t enjoy their food, their company.”
Ibrahim’s move to encourage diners to return to a more sociable time involving conversations with one another follows in the footsteps of other restaurants around the world offering similar incentives.
Last year, for example, LA restaurant Eva hit the headlines when owner Mark Gold started offering a 5 percent food discount to diners who handed over their phones prior to starting their meal.
As for Ibrahim’s profit-busting discount, it’s a safe bet he can take the hit. He did, after all, win $23 million in an Illinois state lottery back in the 1980s.