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Do Cellphones Belong in Restaurants?


You have gone out for a quiet romantic dinner with your partner to the expensive restaurant you have been dying to go to for months. When you get there, the maître d' seats you at a lovely candlelit table for two and hands you your menus. As you stare into each other’s eyes and appreciate the break from screaming kids you hear the unmistakable tones of a cellphone ringing. It isn't yours. You look around and you see plenty of other diners either speaking on their cellphones or texting away.

It is becoming increasingly common to see people using their cellphones at restaurants – to have conversations, to check email, to text, and (I am guilty if this) using the cellphone camera to tweet / facebook pictures of the food placed in front of the customer.

There are some restaurants that do have a no cellphone sign, while others actually keep all kinds of models of cellphone chargers ready for the customer’s use. Some customers will use their cellphones to Google the restaurant where they are to see reviews for ideas on what they should order.

Where does one draw the line? Is it socially acceptable to text while dining with friends or work colleagues? Should it be frowned upon when a business contact conducts a lengthy discussion over the phone while they are supposed to be having a lunch meeting with you? If one is eating alone is it ok to surf using your smartphone? Is it ever ok to have a phone conversation at the table in a restaurant?

Additionally, when the wait-staff want to take an order or serve a meal – should they work around the client, or interrupt the phone call? Are they able to fully serve a customer when that customer is on the phone throughout the duration of the meal?

I polled my Facebook audience for their thoughts:

Leah says: When I get an important call, I answer, say please hold on, excuse myself from the table, and handle it elsewhere. Out of earshot of other diners.

David: This is why cell phones have a silence function. Decorum suggests that answering a phone call while among a group is fine (be it in a restaurant, meeting, etc.) but one should quickly excuse oneself and seek out a reasonably isolated venue to continue the discussion.

Please let us know in the comments what you think about cellphone use in restaurants.


LA Times.