Next time you go to a restaurant, whether it’s fine or casual dining, look around the room. There’s an 80 percent chance that at least one person at every table is either on their phone or has it easily accessible. Recently, CNNMoney found that some restaurants dislike customers’ over zealous use of cell phones so much that they’re offering discounts to those who opt to go without their portable device during their dining experience.
Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles now offers a 5 percent discount when customers choose to leave their phones with the receptionist for the entirety of the meal. Since this policy has gone into effect, the restaurant estimates that 50 percent of customers have opted to ditch their phones. Restaurant owner and chef, Mark Gold, says that he wants people to connect again.
He came up with the idea after speaking with colleagues about how annoying he found it when people were on their smart phones during dinner. The restaurant notifies all of its customers about the cell phone policy with a statement on their menu. Plenty of restaurants ask their customers to refrain from using their cell phone, but this high-scale LA restaurant is the first to offer a discount for surrendering your phone for the duration of the meal.
Gold says that his customers have become really enthusiastic about the new policy. He thinks that people genuinely like the idea of being able to turn off their phone and enjoy their meal, as well as, each other’s company.
Last year, Rogue 24, a Washington D.C. eatery gained rapid press for requiring their diners to submit a two-page contract before their reservations were accepted. The contract included the ban of camera and cell phone use in their restaurant. Owner RJ Cooper later relaxed his contract rules, due to the poor press his restaurant was receiving.
These restaurant owners’ motives for banning cell phone use aren’t completely out of the ordinary. The University of Essex conducted a study that links cell phones to decreased interpersonal connection. Study participants held conversations in pairs, half with a cell phone present and the other half without. Couples who conversed with a cell phone present reported lower relationship quality and less closeness.
The study concluded that interacting without a cell phone helps to foster connectedness, trust, and perceptions of empathy. Gold wants to bring those relationship building opportunities into the fabric of his business. Offering a discount for refraining from cell phone use may not be such a bad idea after all. It allows the diner to save a little money, as well as, enjoy their meal and connect with their company, distraction-free.