Along with the plate, the fork and the glass, another tabletop accoutrement in restaurants nowadays is the cellphone. In fact, 75 percent of smartphone users say not even visiting a restroom deters them.
Along with the plate, the fork and the glass, another tabletop accoutrement in restaurants nowadays is the cellphone.
Diners extract their phones from pockets and purses and park them on the table, where the devices have authority to divert attention from face-to-face conversation without warning.
I understand the allure. Much like a wrapped gift that sparks curiosity, a mobile phone’s ringtone or beep raises the possibility that beyond it is some news or photo or other payoff that we don’t want to wait for. And when we respond immediately, it tells our circle that we are on top of things, an active member of the tribe.
In fact, 75 percent of smartphone users say not even visiting a restroom deters them. A recent survey of 1,000 mobile phone users by Alexandria, Va.-based marketing agency 11mark reveals three-fourths will not let a bathroom visit flush them of their phone habits.
Those habits, however, have become an issue for some restaurants. At Il Covo in Los Angeles, servers offer diners small plates to hold their phones, a way to protect the gadgets from food and drink spills.
Another LA restaurant, Patino, has put a request to silence cellphones on the menu.
“This restaurant is a quiet haven from the stress and tumult of everyday life. Please help us by turning your cellphone to vibrate while dining. Thank you,” it reads.
It can be awkward for friends to police themselves. Asking a companion to put the phone away isn’t cool.
New York blogger Brian Perez got a lot of media attention lately by creating the “phone stack.” As a way to get his friends to pay attention to each other when dining out, he suggests they put their cellphones in a pile at the start of a meal. The first one to touch a phone before the check comes must pick up the tab.
By making a game of it, this request for civility doesn’t seem heavy handed. And it frees space on the table for what’s really important in a restaurant: the food.
Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.