Restaurateurs Split on Phones at the Table

Restaurateurs Split on Phones at the TableThe debate over the use of cell phones in restaurants is continuing to divide owners and staff alike. Some restaurants take a hard line against them, but many who used to ban phones outright are now loosening up on their stance. In many cases, barring phone use does little to actually stop diners from pulling out their smart phones to snap a picture or take a call. Others take the opposite approach and welcome phone users, going as far as to offer free charging stations and rewarding customers who photograph their food and share their snapshots online.

Both fast food and high end restaurants dislike cell phones because they often slow down the ordering process. When a customer won’t end their conversation while standing at the counter, everyone behind them has to wait. It also ruins the dining room experience. Some of the biggest names in the restaurant industry, including Bucato in Los Angeles and Shepperd in D.C., are dedicated to keeping their anti-phone policies in place. However, it’s easy to upset customers and drive away traffic by being too hard on people who think a smart phone is a natural part of the dining experience or who need to stay in touch with someone.

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