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L.A. restaurant offers discount to diners who ditch their phones

Lia Grainger
Shine On
August 16, 2012

Here's a creative way to stop customers from yammering on their cellphones in your posh restaurant: offer them a 5% discount. That's what the owner of Eva Restaurant on Beverley Boulevard in Los Angeles is doing in a effort to get customers to focus more on the food and each other.

Owner and chef Mark Gold explains his policy to local radio station KPCC: "For us, it's really not about people disrupting other guests… It's about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we're trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company."

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Eva customers are offered the discount option as soon as they are seated. If they're interested, the phone will be taken and then returned at the conclusion of the meal. Gold says that so far about half the customers have taken the restaurant up on the offer.

While the Eva approach gives diners an option, at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., cellphone use is outright banned. R.J. Cooper is the chef and owner of Rogue 24, a buzzy new restaurant that opened last August in the American capitol.  Cooper makes patrons sign a two page contract when they make a reservation that says they won't use their cell phones or take pictures.

Seem extreme? He doesn't think so. For him, the issue is the disturbance cell phone chatter can create. "It's really about being polite to your fellow guests and your dining companions," Cooper tells DC Eater.  "If everyone brings out their phones, it detracts from the experience."

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And if you think fancy restaurants are the only places banning the phone, think again. Darren Groom is the owner of a modest coffee stall in Norwich, England, and he's refusing to take orders from customers on the phone. "A couple of years ago it became a real problem with people trying to lip read their order to us," Groom tells the BBC.

What do Canadians think? Would you give up your phone to save 5% off your restaurant bill? Is banning cellphone use in restaurants going too far, or a great idea? Is it rude to talk on the phone while ordering, or part of life in the modern world? Sound off in the comments.

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