There was a time when visiting a restaurant with a friend meant enjoying a tasty meal together and having an engaging conversation. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, however, it’s now also about texting a friend between the starter and the main, taking a call from a co-worker mid-meal, tweeting a photo of the dessert, and firing off an email during the post-dinner coffee. Of course, a review of the eatery posted online even before you’re out the door is also obligatory.
If both of you are at it, no one gets hurt, but it kind of defeats the whole point of going to a restaurant with a friend, does it not?
One restaurant owner/chef in Los Angeles has decided to encourage people to once again enjoy the company of their fellow diners by offering a 5 percent discount on their check if they hand over their phone before the first course is served.
Southern California radio station KPCC reported that Mark Gold, who runs Eva restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, is hoping to create a more homely atmosphere by giving patrons the chance to enjoy their meal without the possibility of a handset interrupting the flow of the dining experience.
“For us, it’s really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again,” Gold told KPCC. “It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.”
Gold added that so far just under half of the diners visiting his restaurant have taken up the offer, though he failed to mention whether anyone had broken into a cold sweat halfway through the main course, begging to have their phone returned.
Earlier this year another Californian man, Brian Perez, also had an idea to get diners looking at each other again, instead of at their handsets, creating a game called Phone Stack. The idea is that after taking your seat, everyone places their mobile in the center of the table. The first person who grabs their device during the meal, regardless of the reason, has to take care of the check.
How do you feel about Mark Gold’s idea of taking your phone away for the duration of the meal? Could you handle it? Or does the thought of being separated from your handset for even just a few minutes fill you with dread?
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