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Dec 23, 2011 05:27 PM

Why a TV in every restaurant?

Is it just where I live, or is it now mandatory to have TVs in the restaurant if it has a bar? There's a decent wine bar that serves lunch and dinner. Not a fancy place but not a dive at all--usually more women than men at lunchtime. Last time I went for lunch both the TVs were on with cooking shows...I assume they turn it to sports later. Then last night went to an opening of a new place with a bar/lounge separate from the dining room and pretty upscale. Again, two TVs going in the bar--on opening night and no BIG game. Is this how's it's going to be from now on? And will they start having them outside--for now the safe haven for those of us who go out to not watch TV? (I understand BIG game nights but all the time?)

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  1. If they're watching the game they're going to drink more and possibly order some food. TV is good for business.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mucho gordo

      I understand that. So what are the folks who want to eat without a TV supposed to do?

      1. re: escondido123

        Just eat and don't let the tv distract you. The sound is usually kept reasonably low so as not to disturb.

        1. re: mucho gordo

          Two huge TVs staring down on everyone are not easy to ignore. I think I will vote with my feet...out the door.

          1. re: FoodPopulist

            There is no place where I would go out to dinner in my city that does not have a bar.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I would not go there for lunch, let alone dinner.

          2. re: escondido123

            I really hate TVs in bars/restaurants too. Looks tacky as all hell even with the volume off.

            In NYC there are plenty of places to don't have them but I always check Yelp when somebody suggests somewhere new. There's a listing just below the name of the restaurant that indicates whether there are TVs or not.

        2. In rural areas of Mexico, the extra price one often pays for a great meal is TV Azteca blasting a soccer game in one ear, and Telemundo blasting the latest narcotrafficking news in the other. It makes one wish for Bose sound-canceling headphones with the antojitos.

          1. "So what are the folks who want to eat without a TV supposed to do?"

            Not eat in the bar?

            1. I find that really scary.

              Where do you live that every restaurant has a TV? I live in a big midwestern city and TVs are in bars and some inexpensive restaurants. I've seen them in Thai restaurants. But never in upscale or even mid-level restaurants.

              I have the same reaction about TVs in cars. I saw a car yesterday with TWO TVs going with cartoons, one on each side of the back seat. I was appalled. Has it gotten so that we - and our children - can't live without TV even to ride in a car? Or eat dinner out with friends?

              8 Replies
              1. re: chicgail

                I came back to the title and realized I forgot the word "bar" after restaurant, so it's not every place but oh so many in my downtown north of San Diego. Some are just one big space so there's no bar versus restaurant, wherever you are you can see the TV. There are also places that have a "bar" menu that cannot be ordered in the dining room so that means only going when you want a "formal" meal. (I noticed the last two times that no one was watching the TVs because there wasn't a GAME on just sports programs.)

                1. re: chicgail

                  Here in Richmond, VA it is not uncommon for their to be a tv or tv's in the bar area of a restaurant in all ranges of type & price.

                  They are in the bar area and depending on what's going on it may have sports on or news. It keeps people in the bar, eating more, drinking more, socializing more.

                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                    If the sound is not on and it's not a big game how does having a TV turned on encourage more socializing rather than less? Maybe folks who come to drown their sorrows and not talk to anybody, but aside from that I don't understand.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      People will talk about the game as it's happening. Depending on the signficance of the game, the popularity among those watching, etc. the sound may be turned on.

                      As an example.....we're not into soccer, but then the World Cup Final was on, we went to a local Italian restaurant (not super casual, not super fancy, but has three tv's in the bar area) and watched it with soccer fans (and had pizza, apps and Peroni).

                  2. re: chicgail

                    I have zero problem with video players for kids. I was a little appalled when I first saw a family using one in a local Thai restaurant but then I saw how their child (3 or 4) was able to sit still through a meal which their parents obviously enjoyed. It's nice for the child, the parents and the other customers who don't have to listen to a kid whining.

                    My kids are older now and we didn't have the technology when they were young so my wife and I just took turns keeping the kids from tearing the restaurant apart. Kids are kids and can't be expected to have an adult's attention span, even during a short restaurant meal or even a car ride.

                    1. re: ferret

                      I wouldn't mind if those video players (movies, games? I don't know which you mean, exactly) were silent. But they're not. They're annoying, and that being the case, I can't believe it when parents whip them out when they bring their tykes to a restaurant.

                      Of course, your video players are probably the silent kind that no one else in the restaurant is forced to listen to.

                      1. re: ferret

                        We bring in our ipad for our 2yr old. She can barely sit down for a full meal at home let alone while we are out. She does incredibly well when we our out but, after 45 minutes of trying to get her to sit still and be quiet a parent can run out of ideas quick. We don't let her watch something with volume it's usually a kids puzzle app or angry birds. She does quite well with that, reading the menu when we order, eating, and(watching them flip pizzas if it's an open kitchen. Of course we pick family places. :))

                        1. re: ferret

                          Never thought about the "entertain the kids" aspect, but then we have none, and 99% of our dining is in restaurants, that are not traditionally "kid friendly."

                          Thanks for the perspective,


                      2. I fucking hate TVs in bars, especially if they're not 'real' sports bars. Restaurants? I'd probably leave right away. The idea of leaving the house for 2 hours without being able to stare at a TV must be really, really scary to folks. Perhaps a cultural thing.

                        Germans are crazy about soccer, but unless the local team is playing or an important tournament is on (EuroCup or WorldCup), you won't see TVs at bars. Restaurants? Please.

                        But then, I find that there are TVs almost anywhere these days -- doctor's offices, car dealerships, cars. Ugh.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: linguafood

                          I'm with you. I think it is often a security blanket for people...I've seen people ask for such-and-such a game to be put on and then they don't watch...or, maybe, watch fitfully. A friend of mine who used to work at LSU was thrilled when the power at the local joint, The Chimes, went out and the Forty-two TVs they've got shut off: He'd say. "Ah! Maybe now conversation will break out!"

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            Dontcha know -- conversation is for communists!! :-D

                            1. re: linguafood

                              You remind me of a friend's affection for the Italian Communist Party which, he says, is charmingly ineffectual. They get a group together (in my friend's scenario) at some trattoria and plan it out: "OK, today we work on the Central Economy, the Workers Controlling the Means of Production, and the withering away of the State plus the overthrow of the status quo.....after lunch." Then they get drunk on wine and grappa, fall off their chairs, and have to try again the next day....with the same results.

                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                Well, it's been proven not to be the most successful political system.

                                Fun, perhaps -- what with all the wine & grappa.

                              2. re: hazelhurst

                                Now, during the most recent LSU - Alabama game, we were dining in Denver. I agreed that my wife could monitor things on her iPhone, and much of the staff greatly appreciated that. She had to abstain from cheering, and could only quietly report the progress of the game (luckily, not much to report), but the staff was over her shoulder. She also had to keep that iPhone below table-level.

                                Now, and while NOT being a big fan of TV's in the restaurants (bars are different, at least to me), for the "next" LSU-Alabama game, I will either find some bar with it on their TV, or will order room service, and watch it in comfort with my feet up, the large-screen glowing, and a bottle of wine handy.

                                Heck, we passed on tickets (owner's box) for the 7th game of the World Series with AZ, as we were on business in San Francisco. There was a bar, with TV's, but we opted for the dining room. However, I kept tipping the waitstaff, when they would quietly deliver the scores to me...


                              3. re: linguafood

                                "Germans are crazy about soccer, but unless the local team is playing or an important tournament is on (EuroCup or WorldCup), you won't see TVs at bars. Restaurants? Please."

                                Not to nitpick but I was under the same impression until I ate my first meal in Berlin last fall (Dicke Wirtin). TV in front bar and restaurant area w/ eyes glued. Curious I asked the bartender which teams were playing. He told me it was just some game. Both teams were German but neither were local.

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  Dicke Wirtin is more of a bar (Kneipe) than a restaurant, even if they serve food there. Many (working-class) bars have TVs with the national soccer league games on. Emphasis on *bars*, not restaurants or restaurant bars.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    So when you said ".. you won't see TVs at bars" you didn't mean working-class bars just restaurant bars. Ok;]

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Yes, I guess I did. I guess I also don't hang out much in bars like Dicke Wirtin, perhaps b/c a soccer game might be on '-)

                                      Listen, it's fairly obvious to me that people in the US clearly prefer not to be without the distraction / "entertainment" value of a TV set wherever they go or whenever they leave the house. It's a different culture, I get it.

                                      When I go out to eat or drink, I go out to eat or drink and have conversations with the people I am going out with, and I prefer to NOT have any TVs around me -- unless I am going out EXPLICITLY to watch a game (the two big soccer tournos come to mind), b/c I don't tend to watch soccer games on my own at home.

                                      Different strokes, and a tiny percentage of US Americans -- or maybe just the OP and I -- seem to feel the same way.

                                      In any event, I stand by my point that it is far more common for TVS to be in US American bars, restaurants, sport bars, etc. than it is in Germany. Can't speak for the rest of Europe, tho I don't remember seeing TVs in Italy, France, Spain or Greece.

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        I'd say that here in the US TVs are more pervasive in casual dining restaurants in general than in other places I've traveled. But then there are certain kinds of restaurants here (beyond fine dining establishments) where TVs are not at all common (e.g.: byobs, brasseries, tapas bars, sushi bars). Generally smaller independent restaurants will tend to not have TVs; and particularly if they don't have a bar. 
                                        Having said that finding a quiet bar to read a book or to not be distracted by a TV is tougher in the US. On a recent trip to Dublin tho' virtually every pub had a TV (some on some off). In Great Britain this was not as true; nor was it true in other countries that you mentioned in my experience.
                                        So it depends on where you go but having the expectation of no TV is less common here. 

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          Still waiting with baited breath on your Berlin trip report. And by "we", I mean I.

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            I reported where I ate here:

                                            I can provide more details if you'd like?

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              I think the Europe board readers might enjoy a more elaborate response, if you care to do so. Right now, buried in a discussion about wine & food, it's a bit lost.

                                              I'd also love to find out what made you choose the places you chose, and I'd love to hear your opinion about Rogacki / Clärchens Ballhaus, especially.

                                              I'm in the process of compiling a BoB (Best of Berlin) 2011 list for my blog, and both of those places are on it.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                When I travel I don't always need fine dining, just good food and most importantly food that I can only get where I am. Having done a small amount of research I concluded that in Berlin maybe that would be the more common foods. Places like Dicke Wirten and Rogacki seemed obvious choices for things like Eisbein or  Blut und Leberwurst. 
                                                Maybe I'm wrong but my perception is that fine or very upscale dining in Berlin would be like doing so in New York or Chicago; probably fantastic but nothing I couldn't get done well in many places.

                                                Edit: I'd also planned on visiting some of the Turkish markets and restaurants but unfortunately did not (this time).

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  Oh yeah, Rogacki is a great Berlin institution, so it was a good move to check it out!

                                                  I love their lunch of fried fish and a variety of potato salads charged by weight. And the fresh & smoked fish selection is pretty awesome, if rather hefty in price.

                                                  Also agree that fine dining in Berlin won't be much different than other cities in the US... except for maybe around asparagus season '-)

                                                  Glad you enjoyed yourself!

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    "I love [Rogacki's] lunch of fried fish and a variety of potato salads charged by weight."

                                                    That's exactly what my wife had;]

                                        2. re: linguafood

                                          Not sure how TV's factor into the society, but I can say that I seldom have an issues without them. OTOH, I have talked to many families, where they have driven their children through some beautiful areas of the US, and had to put DVD's in the player in the back seat. Some people ARE addicted to TV, and I feel very sorry for them.

                                          True dining, should not be interrupted by TV's.


                                        3. re: Chinon00

                                          For me, bars are pretty much bars, and I have zero issues with almost anything in them, TV's, air hockey, pool tables, fill in the blank. It's only TV's in a true restaurant, that sort of gets me.

                                          Maybe a part of that is because of the particular restaurants, where we dine. Just cannot see Guy Savoy putting TV's in his dining rooms, but maybe I will be in for a surprise in the future?


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            Bill, if only I had your choices I would be a happy camper :)