Dining in a restaurant isn’t what it used to be. Either there’s some guy next to you yammering on his smartphone or your partner’s more interested in Twitter than making polite dinner conversation (we’re present these days, but not necessarily talking).
Hence why a restaurant outside Jerusalem has taken the radical step of incentivizing customers to shut off their devices. As reported by Aron Heller, of the Associated Press, a hummus joint called Abu Ghosh is giving a 50% discount to diners who eschew calling and texting in favor of face-to-face time.
The owner, Jawdat Ibrahim, tells Heller he was disturbed to see people sitting at his tables not talking with one another and barely touching their food, because something on Facebook was momentarily more interesting. “Technology is very good. But just when you eat, just especially when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company,” Ibrahim says.
It’s not clear if the economics of the idea will work long term. Ibrahim won $23 million from the Illinois State Lottery in the 1980s, so he can afford to subsidize things for a while. But the owner reckons the idea could catch on, and help attract certain customers.
Who knows? Maybe cell phone use will be the new smoking: Something we used to put up with, until one day people wanted something different.