HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Aug 15, 2012 07:50 PM

Dump the phone, save 5% on your bill ...

From the LA Times:

"Eva Restaurant on Beverly Boulevard [in Los Angeles] is offering diners a 5% discount on their bill if they dump their digital devices before being seated, according to radio station KPCC. Owner and chef Mark Gold says it’s a tactic to keep distracted dining to a minimum."


How will food bloggers survive? Will they starve to death?!?!?!

Full read here: http://www.latimes.com/business/money...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What a great idea. I went to my beloved diner today out in the boonies. Sellersville Pa to be exact. And two older adults couldn't manage to step out in the lobby to chat. on their cell phones. Hey I would always get five percent off seeing as how I have yet to submit to the tether .

    2 Replies
    1. re: givemecarbs

      I'd also be seeing 5% off my bill. People who know me refer to my cell phone as "Cindy's car phone" because that's where it resides, more-or-less permanently. Not only do I not want to be tethered, I also don't want to be accessible 24/7. Most people I know wear their cell phones like an appendage. For me, it's an accessory like an umbrella; I know where to find it when I need it.

      Is it any wonder I find it totally obnoxious to observe people texting or talking on their cell phones in restaurants, especially when there are others sitting at their table?

      1. re: CindyJ

        I agree with you, Cindy, I, too, am not anchored by my phone. I use it for emergencies and "little things", that's why I only have a pay as you go. I pay $100 per year and usually have minutes left over.

        I don't have any kids, but I frequently take my sister's kids out for meals and other outings. They know that, once we're in the car, the cell phone is put away. I only had to tell each child, once, that I had invited them because I wanted to enjoy their company, and that if they were more interested in their cell phone, I would be happy to take them home so that I wouldn't be intruding on them.

    2. No way! While I don't pull out my phone during a meal, for security reasons I don't give strangers my phone.

      Too much info they don't need to have access to. Besides what if my phone is misplaced. Nuts to that!

      1. Eh, I've never understood why it's perfectly fine for people to chat it up with someone sitting at the table with them at the same time people get annoyed if they are talking on the phone. At least with the phone it's only one person talking.

        13 Replies
        1. re: rasputina

          Article states: In recent years, technology has become unavoidable in restaurants. Diners have turned into food paparazzi, hustling to get the perfect snapshot of a well-plated dish. Others seem to tweet every other bite while reviews on Yelp and Chowhound come harsh and often.
          This is interesting! It's not "just" about the cell phone as conversational device but about the number of diners taking photos and creating another and unwanted atmosphere to the restaurant experience. Listen, I think it's both bold and generous of a restaurant owner to offer the customer a rebate for behavior. In a theatre, they'll throw you out. In the movies, they will offer you a warning. This restaurant is willing to work with customers. Sign of some extraordinary times we live in.

          1. re: rasputina

            Maybe it is a psychological effect for the observer (me) but it seems like people talk on the phone in a much louder voice, and with a different cadence. I don't know, but it seems like a conversation between two people blends into the background, whereas one person talking on the phone stands out like a bullhorn. Of course, it could be my own prejudices.

            That's over and above the rudeness of being in a conversation that the others in your own party are not part of.

            1. re: 2roadsdiverge

              What an excellent idea !

              To be able to actually enjoy a meal in private, without the rude distraction of another table party conducting business loudly at the 75 db register level, which no one asked or wanted to hear. And with a discount on the dinner tab too.

              1. re: SWISSAIRE

                People do speak louder when they're on the phone than they do face-to-face, making the phone-talkers much more noticeable than those engaged in conversations with dining companions. Maybe restaurants need to create cell-phone-free areas -- like the non-smoking areas they had in the past.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  Cindy, I'm all for your suggestion.

                  Like flying, put the ear phone, headset, phone or Handy in your pocket or purse and switch it all to " Airplane " mode. How refreshing that would be to the other dining patrons. Recent example while dining:

                  July 2012: Hotel Bellevue Restaurant, Lago di Como.
                  One of our favourites across the frontier in Italy for 30+ years, we dine there when we are in the area. A nice simple family run affair. Out on the patio overlooking the lake at night, we were enjoying Grappa with friends when the following exchange took place at the table next to all of us.

                  " Hey it's Will. Will. No WILL !!! Yah, we're in Italy. IN ITALY !!! Yah, can you believe it ? No on the lake. . . . Where Clooney lives. Clooney. CLOONEY !!! Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh. OK. Right !

                  Then a lengthy discourse ( 3 +Grappas worth by my count ) on the flight, hotel, and car rental experience. Finally someone hailed a waiter, who then went over very nicely to advise the party. " Yah, well gotta go now. Someone's havin' a fit about our phone. OK , OK... I'll call yah in the morning. Bye-bye. "

                  That last remark infomed me how really important it was to make the 20-30 minute call. I'm sure it was the effect of the Grappa, but I also began to consider the physics of skipping a certain smartphone across the lake, and how far it would travel before sinking.

                  While I want to encourage everyone to travel, take back memories, and enjoy themselves, there is a time, a limit, and place for everything, including phones, laptops, tablets, and cameras.

            2. re: rasputina

              LOL it's always the same response, people talk too loud. And yet, I've experienced plenty of loud groups at restaurants.

              1. re: rasputina

                In addition to issue of speaking loudly, someone (at another table) receiving constant text messages is also irritating.

                Either way, I think it's a great incentive for getting the behavior you want without really penalizing someone who "can't" be without their phone.

                1. re: cresyd

                  "someone (at another table) receiving constant text messages is also irritating."

                  I cannot even imagine noticing such a thing. I have my own experience and friends to focus on, not others.

                  1. re: tommy

                    Recently, I was at a local "fine dining" restaurant. I was facing and fairly close to a table with eight people. They were right in my line of vision and I could not help but notice that three of the eight at the table were texting -- and I mean continuously. Who knows -- maybe they were texting among themselves, gossiping about the other five who were with them.

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      Or the people who were obsessed with them. LOL

                      What was this fine dining restaurant that allowed this to happen to you?

                      1. re: tommy

                        Now, now... I'm not pretending to be a victim of these circumstances. This was merely an observation of ill-mannered people behaving badly.

                    2. re: tommy

                      Some people are more irritated by surrounding noises, some aren't - but clearly this restaurant has found a way to get both press and perhaps please a certain kind of clientele.

              2. Good idea. I wonder if movie theaters could start doing the same thing.

                8 Replies
                1. re: JeremyEG

                  I saw two movies this weekend, and they said they WOULD ask you to leave if you so much as texted, let alone took a call.

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    I attended a Broadway show last year where the owner of a ringing cell phone was plucked from the audience during the live show and asked to leave in front of the entire audience. We actually thought it was part of the script...but alas, the bartender during intermission informed all of us at the bar "no that's what happens to assholes."

                    1. re: HillJ

                      At those prices, that shoe would HAVE to fit.

                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        What I find interesting about this 5% plea (smirk) is that most establishments have a written or unwritten rule: My house, my rules. Something most people can get behind if they wish to dine there. This offer puts the responsibility of how we experience a restaurant in a different place. And is just one example of how owners are trying to change with the times. Eg: Ipod menus, individual music pods at the table, call ahead apps, etc. So many additional issues to face today as an owner. Client behavior is now a full on part of the protocol.

                  2. re: JeremyEG

                    Alamo Drafthouse, a movie chain in TX, does NOT allow cell phones to be used inside their theaters. Here's a link to the censored version of an irate voice message left by an angry woman who was thrown out of the theater for using her cell phone. This message is now played before all movies. I wish all theaters would adapt this policy.


                    1. re: Vidute

                      As far as I know, Alamo Drafthouse doesn't take your phone when you walk in, do they? That would be pretty hard to enforce. I'm not about to hand over my phone to a stranger on demand.

                      1. re: tommy

                        True, they don't take your phone, but they *definitely* enforce their no cell phone policy. No second chances.

                      2. re: Vidute

                        Well, it IS the Manighted States....

                    2. I'm guessing that most of the people who take advantage of the 5% off weren't going to use their cell phones during the meal anyway... Perhaps they should add 5% to the bills of those people who use their cell phones during the meal. :)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: emily

                        If they can afford to give a permanent 5% discount to half of their customers (and potentially more as word gets out), then it sounds like the menu was overpriced to begin with… If not, then I suspect this is a publicity stunt that (1) ironically depends on people using their digital devices, and (2) will be discreetly discontinued after the buzz dies down. Not that there's anything really wrong with that, I'm just curious to see how committed they are to this policy.

                        And I hope they have put a lot of thought into preventing theft and mix-ups… And I also wonder how the staff feels about the whole thing, since the tables that require the most work (checking their devices in and returning them, plus "policing" the table throughout the meal for concealed devices, ugh) are the ones paying less. Maybe they are being compensated for that, but that makes the policy all the more costly for the restaurant.

                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                          5% is a pretty minor discount. Many restaurants lose close to that much when people pay with a credit card. Being able to offer a 5% discount to a fraction of your patrons doesn't seem to me to make a menu overpriced.

                          I totally agree with your argument on the logistics. Most people tip the coat check attendant. i can't imagine tipping the person confiscating my cell phone.

                          1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                            Coat check attendants are few and far between these days anyhow. Collecting cell phones on the other hand is a bit much. Why not just offer the discount if you refrain from using the phone. Does a restaurant really need to hold your personal electronics? What if you receive an emergency call? I suspect the idea will take on a different life after a few months of trying it out. But just printing the discount on the menu and letting ADULTS decide for themselves seems sufficient.