Smartphone Obsession Can Cost You...Dinner

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Smart phones and dinner conversation
Can't bear to let go of your smartphone? It'll cost you.

Last week, it was widely reported that Eva Restaurant, a small eatery in Los Angeles, is offering customers a 5% discount for handing over their cell phones before dining.

According to the Associated Press, owner Mark Gold says about half of his customers take him up on the offer.

"We just want people to connect again," he told Fox News. "It's eliminating one more distraction from the dinner experience."

Gold isn't the first restaurateur to tackle the issue of distracting cell phone use. Darren Groom, who owns a coffee shop in Norwich, England, attracted media attention when he put up a sign in front of his register, reading: "Sorry we are unable to serve you if you are on the phone. Thank You."

But Groom isn't anti-cell phone. He just enjoys making a personal connection with his customers. "I only did it because when customers come in it is nice to greet them and there is better interaction for myself and staff," Groom told EDP24.

Both owners say that the responses from their customers have been nothing but positive.

In food establishments that don't have explicit cell phone policies (i.e., most of them), some diners have taken it upon themselves to incentivize putting away their phone during meal time.

In January, Brian Perez, a hip hop dancer in California, introduced to the world the game of "Don't Be a D**k During Meals." The basic idea is as follows:
  1. Each diner places his or her phone face down on the table.
  2. The first person to crack and look at their phone loses and has to pay the check.
  3. If no one looks at their phone before the check is delivered, everyone wins and pays their own way.
Even as some restaurants and people actively try to curb the use of cell phones, others actually encourage it. During New York City's Restaurant Week, patrons who connected their Foursquare accounts with their American Express cards could knock five dollars off their bills when checking into the restaurant on the popular social network. Other apps like Groupon, Living Social, ScoutMob, and LevelUp also encourage diners to use their phones to claim discounts while eating out.

What do you think? Should people make a concerted effort not to use their phones while eating out? Or is it OK as long as it's not too disruptive? Let us know in the comments! Or tweet us @daily_finance.
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