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Chef Daniel Humm hopes diners will "enjoy the company of those at the table, and be just a bit more present with one another."

Mike Pomranz
Updated October 26, 2018

If you told most restaurants you’re planning to drop $315 for your meal, the proprietors would probably let you have free reign of the joint—let alone let you use your smartphone to your heart’s content. But at Eleven Madison Park, Chef Daniel Humm wants his customers to consider taking the opposite approach. The renowned restaurant—currently ranked as the fourth best in the world by World’s 50 Best—has started offering guests a box where they can stash away cell phones for the duration of their meal.

In a post on Instagram yesterday, Humm explained his reasoning behind the move. “Just outside our windows we’ve seen so many inspiring artists partner with Madison Square Park for local installations over the years, and the current installation, by the amazing local NYC artist Arlene Shechet, is no exception,” he begins. “It’s titled ‘Full Steam Ahead’ and invites people to look up and appreciate the present moment, away from their phones and other distractions. Inspired by her exhibit, we’ve brought a touch of this into our restaurant, with guests presented with a box which they can place their phones into, encouraging them to enjoy the company of those at the table, and be just a bit more present with one another. It’s been so amazing to see how guests have embraced this in the dining room.”

In further defense of Humm’s suggestion, as you can see, it’s a very nice box…

Of course, it didn’t take long for commenters on Instagram to point out the most obvious objection some diners will probably have to this idea. “But how do I take pics of the beautiful food?” someone quickly replied. To be fair to Humm, the post specifically says that guests “can” put their phone in the box—meaning this doesn’t appear to be a firm smartphone “ban.”

Regardless, another commenter suggested a workaround: “I would bring my old school camera!” they wrote—somewhat missing the point of the box entirely. Countdown until Humm decides to offer a second box to hold people’s cameras in three… two… one…

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