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TV in restaurants?

fara Aug 11, 2013 05:17 PM

The other day we were very excited to eat a new hole in the wall, one that been highly recommended here. We get there and there is a giant TV filling up half the space. Dh and I made accomodations, while poor 4yo was absolutely mesmerized the whole time and couldn't eat. It was about 10 x the size of her and was towering over her head. I think I also grossly overate (either that or the food was so good! Doowee in Sommerville MA) because the TV was so loud and right over me. Finally because 4yo wasn't eating and we were the only patrons, we asked if they could briefly turn off the TV. No problem.
Ok great, so why are there TVs everywhere, especially in ethnic restaurants that might be more of a sit down environment? I find this awful and terribly distracting for everyone involved. It also just seems to be getting worse.

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  1. girloftheworld RE: fara Aug 11, 2013 05:25 PM

    was it more of a "pub" where people mught want to catch a game?
    I know of a very popular elegant eating establishment that had TVs installed just for for TOPchef one season..or during World Cup time...

    1. Bill Hunt RE: fara Aug 11, 2013 07:07 PM

      Not my thing.


      1. mrbigshotno.1 RE: fara Aug 11, 2013 07:33 PM

        People just can't sit and enjoy a meal and each other anymore. Godamn texting and cellphone use in restaurants ruin it for me. C'mon you can't turn it off for an hour?

        5 Replies
        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
          Bill Hunt RE: mrbigshotno.1 Aug 12, 2013 07:47 PM

          You are so correct.

          At a recent visit to a Paris Michelin 3-star restaurant, two younger members of one party, spent the entire evening texting. The parents, and grandparents tried to get them involved, but they refused, and continued to text for the entire evening. I was glad when they finally left.


          1. re: Bill Hunt
            Cachetes RE: Bill Hunt Aug 17, 2013 09:24 AM

            My thought when I read this is: who is paying for those cellphones? Because if it's the parents, there's one very easy way to get them to stop texting when asked.

            1. re: Cachetes
              girloftheworld RE: Cachetes Aug 17, 2013 11:04 AM

              we have a no phones at the table rule. ..

              even for guests

            2. re: Bill Hunt
              Midlife RE: Bill Hunt Aug 22, 2013 11:45 AM

              Bill, were these young people with your party, or are you so bothered by this that even the sight of it (at another table) is upsetting. I DO get it, but think maybe you could use a good vacation. ;o]]]]]

              1. re: Midlife
                Bill Hunt RE: Midlife Aug 23, 2013 07:34 PM

                They were in another party, but spent the entire evening texting, and even left their family, to find a quiet corner, to continue that activity.

                Were they in my group, I would have put a stop to that activity, but they were not - it is up to the parents, and (in this case) grand-parents, to teach some tact.


          2. Firegoat RE: fara Aug 11, 2013 11:06 PM

            I actually notice fewer televisions in restaurants than I used to. Pretty much if I see televisions up it is in a pub/sports bar, and if it is in a restaurant it is in the bar section. These are fine with me as the main reason I go to a pub is to a) watch a Wildcats game or b) play Buzztime trivia with friends.
            I did see a television in a pizza place a while back. It seemed weirdly out of place.

            17 Replies
            1. re: Firegoat
              greygarious RE: Firegoat Aug 15, 2013 08:26 PM

              AFAIAC, if a restaurant has TVs, it IS a sports bar, regardless of what it serves. I have never seen a TV in a restaurant that does not have a liquor license. They want people to plant themselves at the bar or table and drink for hours on end.

              The presence of a TV is a huge turn-off for me. I am unlikely to return, unless it is for take-out.

              1. re: greygarious
                cresyd RE: greygarious Aug 16, 2013 10:08 AM

                I think the notable exception to a sports bar is an "ethnic" restaurant (and by that, I mean representing a cuisine of an migrant group to whatever locale it's located) that has a TV where the show television from their place of origin.

                My initial thought was all of the Ethiopian restaurants I'm familiar with have televisions where in addition to sports they also show Ethiopian television. But the more I think about it, a Korean restaurant where I live (and is the only Korean restaurant that I know of in Israel - so it's not like there are other options), always has on Korean music television - never sports. Growing up as a kid, the Vietnamese restaurant we went to showed (what I assume) was television in Vietnamese. All of these restaurants that I mention, as well as serving awesome food, also serve as quasi-community centers for their ethnic groups. It's not a turn on for me, but when my options are absolutely no Korean food, or ignoring K-Pop music videos - I'm ok with ignoring the TV.

                I guess based on my experience, I could use "place that has a TV showing ethnic shows/news/sports" as a sign of likely tracking locals and being more authentic.

                1. re: cresyd
                  Bill Hunt RE: cresyd Aug 16, 2013 07:35 PM

                  Yes, it's like going to a Pakistani restaurant, where every TV is tuned to the Al-Qaeda Network.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    JonParker RE: Bill Hunt Aug 16, 2013 07:47 PM


                    1. re: JonParker
                      Bill Hunt RE: JonParker Aug 16, 2013 07:57 PM

                      Pretty much what I said.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        JonParker RE: Bill Hunt Aug 16, 2013 08:27 PM

                        I'm trying to come up with a response that isn't obscene, but I'm not having much luck.

                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                          Uncle Yabai RE: Bill Hunt Aug 21, 2013 03:35 AM

                          It's the Osama 24/7 Channel!

                      2. re: Bill Hunt
                        Tripeler RE: Bill Hunt Aug 16, 2013 08:46 PM

                        I have never heard of the Al-Qaeda TV Network.

                        1. re: Tripeler
                          Bill Hunt RE: Tripeler Aug 16, 2013 08:55 PM

                          Well, they are active in many countries, and can be picked up elsewhere. They are not just in the Middle East any more.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            cresyd RE: Bill Hunt Aug 17, 2013 01:13 AM

                            Or you get a satellite dish.

                            Speaking of a number of Ethiopian restaurants or restaurant/bars I know in Jerusalem - it doesn't necessarily mean the food will be good. But they do attract locals.

                          2. re: Tripeler
                            PotatoHouse RE: Tripeler Aug 17, 2013 04:28 PM

                            You have never heard of Al Jazeera ?

                            1. re: PotatoHouse
                              Cachetes RE: PotatoHouse Aug 18, 2013 08:27 AM

                              Saw him at a jazz fest once. Amazing.

                          3. re: Bill Hunt
                            Hobbert RE: Bill Hunt Aug 17, 2013 04:58 AM

                            Do you mean Al Jazeera?

                            1. re: Hobbert
                              JonParker RE: Hobbert Aug 17, 2013 05:12 AM

                              Al Jazeera is probably the best news organization anywhere in the world right now. I get a lot of my news from them.

                              1. re: JonParker
                                Hobbert RE: JonParker Aug 17, 2013 05:23 AM

                                I completely agree. I find they present a pretty balanced view of the news. And it's interesting to get it without an American bias. I'm a bit skeptical about the existence of an Al Qaeda channel though....

                              2. re: Hobbert
                                melpy RE: Hobbert Aug 26, 2013 02:47 AM

                                I think Bill is trying to be funny.

                              3. re: Bill Hunt
                                fara RE: Bill Hunt Aug 17, 2013 05:24 AM

                                Do you mean al- jazeera?

                        2. h
                          Harters RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 04:25 AM

                          I've only twice come across a TV in a proper restaurant (as opposed to a bar/pub that also served food. Once in an Ethiopian restaurant near home (where the progarmme was an Ethiopian news channel) and once in a pizza place in South Africa (where I was eating alone and pleased to be able to catch up on the cricket).

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Harters
                            cresyd RE: Harters Aug 12, 2013 11:05 PM

                            Aside from bars/sports bars - the only other restaurant I've been to recently where there's a TV is an Ethiopian restuarant. If there's a game (any kind of game) available - they'll show that or Ethiopian news.

                            But this Ethiopian place in particular functions both as a great hole in the wall restaurant and a bar/hangout for Ethiopians.

                            1. re: cresyd
                              Leonardo RE: cresyd Aug 14, 2013 08:16 AM

                              Ethiopian place near my house has TV always on, programming is never specific to them, always random. I don't go there anymore.

                          2. r
                            Rick RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 06:21 AM

                            I could be wrong, but here's my guess. Many small hole in the wall places are staffed daily by the actual owners. Sometimes I think the televisions are actually more for the staff and owners that are working very long days. Not saying it helps your meal be more enjoyable, but being in one place for 12+ hours can sometimes become very monotonous especially during the slow times.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Rick
                              ratgirlagogo RE: Rick Aug 20, 2013 03:52 AM

                              I agree with this. More than once it's been hard for me to tear myself away and actually leave with my Indian take-out when I started getting caught up in whatever Bollywood epic was playing on the TV.

                            2. Motosport RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 10:36 AM

                              I have noticed it in ethnic restaurants, Hispanic and Portugese. Somehow there always seems to be a soccer game or novella playing.
                              For that type of place it's never bothered us.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Motosport
                                GraydonCarter RE: Motosport Aug 13, 2013 11:20 AM

                                I believe it is mandatory in those places.

                              2. e
                                escondido123 RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 10:55 AM

                                I posted about this at least a year ago after going to a restaurant with an attached bar (separated by a 8 foot arch) and not being able to escape the TVs no matter where we were--could either see or hear them. In the bar it was overwhelming. This was not a dive or a hole in the wall so why TVs on unless it is football night--which I avoid like the plague. When I posted last time, most people said I was being too picky and should just go elsewhere.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: escondido123
                                  Motosport RE: escondido123 Aug 12, 2013 10:57 AM

                                  You don't sound picky but probably should go elsewhere.

                                  1. re: Motosport
                                    escondido123 RE: Motosport Aug 12, 2013 03:06 PM

                                    Not that many choices when you want to be able to walk to the restaurant. Now that the weather's warm, we eat outside--no TV there yet.

                                  2. re: escondido123
                                    pine time RE: escondido123 Aug 12, 2013 02:15 PM

                                    "...should just go elsewhere." That's exactly what the Mr. and I have been doing. Yesterday, went to a highly recommended Mexican restaurant & sure enough, there was the TV. We ordered food to go. Didn't even turn on the TV at home, either.

                                  3. foodieX2 RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 03:22 PM

                                    There is a nice little Japanese restaurant near us that does the same thing and it's one of the reasons we don't go very often. The last time we were they they were showing some movie that was not appropriate for our 12 year old.

                                    Other than that most of the TV's I see are in sports bar/restaurants, never at higher end places. A local chain, The Fours, has virtually every wall covered with TV's and they all seem to playing a different. game. That combined with bad food keeps me away but it seems packed whenever I drive by so people must like it,

                                    1. f
                                      fourunder RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 03:27 PM

                                      Televisions have their places in restaurants and bars....not in fine dining establishments table areas...but small televisions in bar areas are normal for business clients watching a business channel.

                                      For those of you find the televisions distracting or not appropriate....you do have the choice not to patronize.

                                      1. t
                                        tastesgoodwhatisit RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 06:07 PM

                                        In Taiwan a TV showing the news is pretty standard in small, hole in the wall type restaurants. The sound level can vary (all shows are subtitled, so the sound can be off and people can still watch it), but it's pretty ubiquitous.

                                        I can usually tune it out pretty well - my Chinese isn't good enough to follow high speed news reporting, which helps.

                                        Higher end places don't do it, and it's not common in non-Chinese food restaurants.

                                        1. melpy RE: fara Aug 12, 2013 06:24 PM

                                          I can't stand that! Our sit down sushi restaurant has this and so does the Thai. Drives me nuts. I understand at a sports bar but otherwise it is annoying.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: melpy
                                            girloftheworld RE: melpy Aug 12, 2013 06:30 PM

                                            sooooo when the Zombie apocolyps hits we all head to Asian and Mexican restaurants

                                            1. re: girloftheworld
                                              Bill Hunt RE: girloftheworld Aug 12, 2013 07:49 PM

                                              Not a bad plan.


                                          2. Tripeler RE: fara Aug 13, 2013 03:44 AM

                                            I believe that TV is often the cause of cancer of the imagination.
                                            Interesting that so many places have TV, but few of them play the radio.

                                            1. JonParker RE: fara Aug 13, 2013 06:00 PM

                                              A nice restaurant in Baltimore opened near my house a few years ago. I went a couple of times at opening and reviewed it here. I loved the food, loved the space, and didn't mind at all the TV over the bar. But they had a TV in the upstairs dining room. Not over the bar, but in the dining room.

                                              Now this place would rank in terms of prices three stars out of four. And the food really was great -- I went there so much I had to stop posting about it here because the staff knew me so well. But that TV always bugged me.

                                              1. c
                                                chileheadmike RE: fara Aug 14, 2013 06:43 AM

                                                I've been to a couple of places in KC where they have small TV's mounted in the booth. You even get a remote. Very annoying.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: chileheadmike
                                                  pollymerase RE: chileheadmike Aug 14, 2013 06:51 AM

                                                  At the 810 zone sports bars? I always liked being able to put on what game I wanted to watch.

                                                  1. re: pollymerase
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: pollymerase Aug 15, 2013 08:21 PM

                                                    Even when it's something like the Stanley Cup, or the World Series, or even the NFL playoffs, leading up to the Superbowl (and some of our teams are still in the mix), I refuse. I ban my wife from checking her smartphone, and let the servers whisper scores to us - dining is about dining, at least to me.


                                                2. girloftheworld RE: fara Aug 14, 2013 09:52 AM

                                                  ok so I road my bike to the small mexican place up the street to get breakfast tacos this morning and yes the tv was on... so I asked about it... The owner said she leaves it on most of the time to help her staff learn English.

                                                  1. tcamp RE: fara Aug 14, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                    I don't like it either in restaurants and I'm perfectly willing to ask them to turn it off or down to a murmur. I do cop to watching sports on the tv when I sit at a bar, often my preferred perch on business travel.

                                                    1. Candy RE: fara Aug 16, 2013 01:31 PM

                                                      If there is a television on, I'm not eating there.

                                                      1. v
                                                        Violatp RE: fara Aug 16, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                        Hate it. I once dated a guy who would be so entranced by whatever TV was in the vicinity that I had to maneuver our seating so that he was facing *away* from the TV!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Violatp
                                                          greygarious RE: Violatp Aug 16, 2013 09:20 PM

                                                          I don't eat in restaurants that have TV in the diningn area but it I DID, and had a DC who was that enthralled with the boob tube, I'd either leave, or ask to be moved to a table for one.

                                                          1. re: greygarious
                                                            Violatp RE: greygarious Aug 16, 2013 09:23 PM

                                                            I was young and dumb. Wouldn't fly these days!

                                                          2. re: Violatp
                                                            fara RE: Violatp Aug 17, 2013 05:22 AM

                                                            This is my dh and dd must be genetic.

                                                          3. emglow101 RE: fara Aug 16, 2013 09:48 PM

                                                            It's the best Nayarit seafood in L.A., Inglewood. Very small place with a large T.V. The family loves to watch it. Not a problem for me because the food is that good.Can't wait to get back.

                                                            1. RetiredChef RE: fara Aug 20, 2013 03:20 PM

                                                              Huge turnoff for me, I first noticed it when I moved to Pittsburgh in late 2009 for a year. Many of the restaurants there had TV's scattered throughout. Patrons would watch instead of engage in conversation with their friends/SO's.

                                                              When I moved back to Washington I was surprised to see several local restaurants had installed them. The biggest shock came when a decent Italian place shut down for a month for an extensive remodel and removed all of it's somewhat authentic decorations and went ultra modern with large TV's everywhere. I have never gone back.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: RetiredChef
                                                                juliasqueezer RE: RetiredChef Aug 26, 2013 09:41 AM

                                                                Also huge in mid-Michigan. You'd be hard pressed to find a middle-range restaurant that doesn't have multiple television screens stationed throughout with various sports programming blasting away. It's guaranteed that any pub or bar or casual eating place will have them, but the spread to nicer restaurants is disappointing.

                                                                As a single female who doesn't really care about sports, my friends and I find we have have limited options. Many restaurants come and go in our area, and they all seem to feel the need to install multiple tv tuned to sports channels.

                                                                We either entertain in our homes or we travel greater distances for pleasant restaurant experiences where we can carry on normal conversations, maybe with some nice background music.

                                                                Our local restaurant owners complain endlessly in the newspaper (yes, we still have one, and it's got a big Chamber of Commerce section) about the lack of community support. They don't seem to get it. They also don't seem to want our business.

                                                              2. Atomic76 RE: fara Aug 20, 2013 09:28 PM

                                                                I don't mind them. I think it just adds some background noise to the place. It would bother me more if the place was so dead quiet that you couldn't have a conversation without everyone else in the restaurant hearing everything you say.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Atomic76
                                                                  escondido123 RE: Atomic76 Aug 22, 2013 11:22 PM

                                                                  I would rather have music than some TV I couldn't care less about...and yes I know there will be arguments about what music but as long as it stays in the background it shouldn't be too big an issue.

                                                                2. janetofreno RE: fara Aug 21, 2013 11:01 PM

                                                                  My husband is in the Satellite TV business, and he has some insight into this (He specializes in setting up TVs for bars and restaurants...): Foreign Language satellite TV programming in the US can be very expensive and may well exceed the budget of many of the restaurant patrons....but the restaurant owners know that it will attract those same patrons who can afford an occasional inexpensive meal out and enjoy the opportunity to watch their favorite shows at the same time... (not to mention the fact that it allows the owners a chance to watch the same programming and write it off:-) Also remember that many of these restaurants are indeed "Mom and Pop" operations, so the family children might watch the programming as well. (Actually, my husband and I experienced the result of this first-hand recently: our "waitress" was obviously the daughter of the owners of an Indian restaurant we went to, and was more interested in the Bollywood movies than in helping us....) Personally, I find the foreign language programming in many ethnic restaurants to be part of the atmosphere, and I enjoy watching it as well (besides, TVs in restaurants are what allow me to afford to eat out more often, so how can I complain?) And a sports bar isn't a sports bar without at least five different sporting events on tv at once, sorry:-) But I agree that they are out of place in fine dining establishments......

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: janetofreno
                                                                    brucesw RE: janetofreno Aug 26, 2013 12:08 AM

                                                                    Thanks for this explanation of the cost factor. I always suspected it was as a draw for expats but didn't know that angle. I have absolutely no problem with this and even enjoy it as a way to soak up some of the culture as well as the cuisine. I have an issue if it's too loud and whether I can find a place to avoid it, should i so choose. And I do agree, they have no place in fine dining establishments and would definitely affect where I take my business.

                                                                  2. Midlife RE: fara Aug 22, 2013 11:51 AM

                                                                    When we owned our wine shop/ wine bar we had a big flat screen on the wall at the rear of the bar area. Most of the time we showed concert DVDs but would put on sporting events when something big was going on. Opinions were sometimes mixed.

                                                                    When we sold the place the new owners showed ONLY wine-related travel videos and, when the thing gave out, removed it completely.

                                                                    I can't really say one is right and the other is wrong, but I suppose there's a case to be made for keeping the focus on wine if you're in the wine retail business. Personally, I wanted the focus on our customers enjoying themselves.................. but knew that I couldn't be 100% sure if thios was the case.

                                                                    1. r
                                                                      Redstickchef RE: fara Aug 22, 2013 02:27 PM

                                                                      I think that restaurants should not have TV's in the main dining area, but that it is ok to have it in the bar area or if you are a sports restaurant obviously, part of that association is going to be having TV's in the restaurant. It is disrupting though, especially if there is a big event on. I remember one time when the local college football was playing in a championship game, all of the male patrons would frequently get up to check on the score in the bar. It was ridiculous!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Redstickchef
                                                                        JonParker RE: Redstickchef Aug 23, 2013 05:35 PM

                                                                        Why is that ridiculous? Seems pretty important to me.

                                                                      2. sonofmrbigshotno1 RE: fara Aug 22, 2013 03:28 PM

                                                                        I'm definitely not a fan of this. Tacky and yeah, distracting. Yes, of course, you're in charge of what distracts you, but when you throw something that is bright, has moving colors, and the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on-deck you just gotta...ahhmm...oh man, hold on. LET'S GO YANKS!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: sonofmrbigshotno1
                                                                          JonParker RE: sonofmrbigshotno1 Aug 23, 2013 05:34 PM

                                                                          Yanks suck. Let's go O's!

                                                                        2. rmarisco RE: fara Aug 24, 2013 12:33 PM

                                                                          normally, not a fan... however, all the taquerias around here have the soccer games on and we all really enjoy commenting on the plays while noshing on tacos.

                                                                          i go to an asian grocery store and they have a TV set on directly behind the cashier.. THAT really bugs me. All the customers look like zombies while waiting in line.

                                                                          1. b
                                                                            BuildingMyBento RE: fara Aug 25, 2013 08:37 AM

                                                                            If the presence of tvs outside of one's home bothers you/anyone, a visit to China/HK/Taiwan would be painful:

                                                                            They're everywhere in China. Metros, restaurants, elevators, elevator waiting areas...probably will be installed in ashtrays at some point too. Never a dull moment for one's eardrums. As if immediately placing a mobile phone on the table upon sitting at a restaurant wasn't enough of a harbinger.

                                                                            In Hong Kong, they're on the (fka) KCR. Even worse, their version of the quiet car doesn't mean that passengers should refrain from using their mobile phones. That would be considerate. Rather, it simply is a carriage where the tvs are on mute. Lunacy.

                                                                            Heck, in Gaoxiong, Taiwan (this is beyond ignorant), I saw them beside the driver's seat in taxis.

                                                                            I know well enough not to go into a sports bar/theme restaurant in the US/abroad. But when there's a tv at a Lanzhou lamian place, ugh.


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