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Put Your Phone Down at Restaurants

Put Your Phone Down at Restaurants

No Phones Allowed Photo courtesy of Honjo

Recently, we got to talk about restaurants that have banned kids from their dining rooms. Here’s something besides badly behaved kids that can be annoying to other diners: overactive cell phone users. Recently, the New York Times reported on the “phone stack” game: When you go out to eat, everyone must put their cells in the middle of the table. Whoever is first to give in to the urge to check their device has to pay for dinner. Here are several places in sync with the phone stack game.

Bedivere Eatery & Tavern (Beirut, Lebanon)
“Tired from going out to places where people are just sitting with a drink and socializing with their mobile phone? If YES is your answer, Bedivere is your place!" says the website of this year-old restaurant that specializes in sandwiches and burgers. Bedivere offers a 10% discount to guests who leave their phones with the restaurant during their meal.

Bucato (Los Angeles, California)
Chef Evan Funke’s dining room prohibits all cell phone use, including photography and texting. Diners can use their phones only within “designated cell phone areas.” The general manager, Ed Keebler, complained to the website Eater that cell phones contribute to “gastro ADD” and that guests are encouraged to “share their meal with fellow diners.”

Malibu Kitchen & Gourmet Country Market (Malibu, California)
Owner Bill Miller has a to-the-point sign posted at the counter of his cute deli: “You decide which is more important. Ordering food or talking on the cell phone. You won’t be waited on until the phone is off and put away.”

Patina (Los Angeles, California)
The iconic restaurant in the Walt Disney Concert Hall is polite about its no-phone request: “This restaurant is a quiet haven from the stress and tumult of everyday life. Please help us by turning your cell phone to vibrate while dining. Thank you.”

Rogue 24 (Washington, D.C.)
Over on the East Coast, in 2011 this prix fixe restaurant implemented a two-page contract to hold a reservation, including the request that all diners “refrain from the use of cell phones and photography. All guests should be able to enjoy the experiences that surround them at Rogue 24 free of distraction.” The contract is no longer in place but cell phone use, while not explicitly banned, is discouraged.

Bouley (New York City, New York)
The iconic chef forbids photos in the fancy dining room but allows them in the coat check and lounge areas. He also has been known to let diners into the kitchen to take pictures as the food is coming out. “That shot will look much better on the marble table of our kitchen,” David Bouley told the New York Times.

Eva Restaurant (Los Angeles, California)
This restaurant is now closed. Too bad: When it was open, chef Mark Gold offered a 5% discount on the meal if guests left cell phones at the host stand. The discount started in summer 2012, and an estimated 40-50% of the guests were participating in less than two months. "They actually get really enthusiastic about it," Gold told CNN Money. "I think people generally like the idea of being able to turn off their cell phones. They just haven't been given the opportunity to or thought about it."

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