Restaurants Struggle to Ban Cell Phones

STORY BY Artie Vincent

Published: April 18, 2013

In the age of Yelp, the ordinary diner was turned into the uber-pseudo-food critic. Yes, it has become the number one source for diners to find new, great eats in major metropolitan areas such as New York City. 
 
Still, the restaurant owners continually battle to filter out reviews that weren't clearly based on the merits but rather on a grudge or out of frustration for waiting a little longer for a table on a busy Friday evening. 
 
In recent months, as a deterrence, a large number of restaurants have placed a cell phone ban or no photo policy in many of their establishments. 
 
The trend began about 10 months ago when the popular Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles offered a 5 percent discount to diners that would turn in their smartphones at the doors. Many of restaurants, though fearing alienating the public, slowly adopted similar polices. 
 
Numerous high end restaurants in New York City,  such as the Gotham Bar and Grill, won't allow patrons to take photos of their plates. The Malibu Kitchen in Malibu, California has a simple, hard and fast rule: if you are on your cell phone at the head of the line then you won't be served. 
 
A deli in Burlington, VT threatened to add an additional $3 to a customers bill if a cell phone was used in the establishment. Most eateries usually place an appropriated-worded signs at the front of the restaurant. 
 
The general consensus of most restauranteurs and chefs is that the new cell trends are more than deterring the photos or reviews. They believe the cell phone abuse such as texting, Facebook surfing and game playing is rude and causes a distraction to the dining experience. 
 
There is an annoyance when diners continually ask waiters or bartenders to charge their phone. Or when customers place their phones on the table, risking liquid damage when busboys refill their water glasses. 
 
For restaurants, these rules are the dawn of the era of the new age dining etiquette similar to that of not placing your elbows of the dinner table or chewing with your mouth open. 
 
Yet the digital divide goes deeper.
 
Most customers have outraged in the newer polices, believing it is an infringement on some of their civic freedoms. And turning a phone at the door commonly leads the diner to forgetting that phones, especially after a few drinks. 
 
Other Stories by Artie Vincent
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