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Restaurant offers discount to patrons who put down their cellphones


How often do you see a family or a couple dining at a restaurant, their attention glued to their smartphones instead of talking to each other?

One restaurant owner is trying to change this anti-social dining behaviour by giving patrons a 5-per-cent discount on their meal if they leave their cellphones at the door.

"For us, it's really not about people disrupting other guests," Mark Gold, owner and chef of Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles, told Southern California Public Radio. "It's about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone."

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Mr. Gold, who acknowledges he's also guilty of dining while distracted, says a little less than half the people who eat at his restaurant have taken up his offer.

"When [my wife and I] go to dinner, it seems like the cellphone is part of the table setting now. Every table you look at, it's a wine glass, the silverware and the cellphone," he said.

In January, a game now known as "the phone stack" – aimed at curbing cellphone disruptions at restaurants – went viral. Created by a 20-year-old Tumblr blogger, the game works just as the name suggests: At start of the meal, everyone stacks their phones face-down in the middle of the table, and the first person to grab their phone to check their messages, e-mails or calls has to pay for everyone's bill.

Would you stop using your cellphone at a restaurant if it would get you a discount? Is distracted dining becoming a problem?

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