Dallas Restaurateurs Debate Whether a Cell Phone Ban Could Work, and How

OutToLunchPhone.jpg
Lauren Drewes Daniels
A comment in my story a while back about phone stacking caught my attention. "In Japan they have 'No Phone Areas' in restaurants, bars and even the subway," Wagner Gui Tronolone wrote. "I think it's awesome!"

It does sound sort of awesome. Sometimes a cell phone feels like a leash. At the other end of that leash are obligations and situations that can interrupt an hour of reprieve. Sure, there's always the option of simply leaving a phone in the car, but then guilt can be tied to that choice. If the restaurant makes the choice for you, it's seems sweeter.

Restaurants that do ban cell phones around the country and elsewhere are usually of the high-end, upscale variety, where chefs want their guests to focus on the culinary experience. And, more importantly, not disturb others. It's simple chivalry.

I floated the idea of a cell phone ban to a few restaurants around town, even if it was just for one night -- "Cell Phone Free Tuesdays" or something like that. Would restaurants consider a ban, and how do they think it would be received?

Brian Luscher of The Grape on Greenville thinks the hardest thing would be enforcing it.

"Sounds like a cool idea," said Luscher. "I think we could suggest it, as a whim, and maybe it would be received as a novelty or a gimmick, but to put your foot down would be perceived as some sort of affront to constitutional right as a 'merican."

Luscher went on to recount a recent dinner at The Mansion where he didn't notice any cell phone use during the meal (although he snapped a shot of his food sans the flash -- for research purposes).

David Uygur of Lucia thinks there's time and place, "Of course we'd love it if everyone came in, turned off their phones and gave their full attention to their dining companions and dinner -- just good food and conversation."

But banning cell phones, even for one night a week, just wouldn't work, he said, also citing enforcement.

One of Dallas' most popular new restaurants has made great use of social media, and it's served it well. If you've been to Il Cane Rosso, you've probably seen owner Jay Jerrier in the pizza pit, leaning against the bar, head down, swiping bits and bytes on his iPhone. Once a customer checked in on Facebook at his spot in Deep Ellum, then quickly posted that a server told her she couldn't order a pizza without cheese. Jerrier instantly replied to her post and told her to come up to the bar and he'd make her a pizza. (They were no more than 20 feet away from each other, but the message passed through a satellite orbiting space.)

So Jerrier is sort of an extreme. Asked if he could live without his cell phone, "Can I still use my iPad?" he joked.

Actually, he said, he thought he could pull it off.

"We generally don't have a huge problem with people talking on their cell phones in the dining rooms," Jerrier said. "It's generally crowded so I don't think you could really carry on a conversations.

"Social media has become part of what we do," he continued, "And I think it helps build a sense of community and a way for people to interact with us."

In talking with chefs, the only vague commitment in the form of, "Yeah, someday that might be interesting to try" kind-of-a-way was Mark Wootton at Garden Café, but even he seemed skeptical. He liked the idea of guests interacting more in his neighborhood spot and enjoying interrupted serenity of his huge backyard garden -- or even other guests -- but thinks it might hurt business in the end. Especially as he tries to create a more coffeehouse feel.

JS Online, a paper in Milwaukee, recently ran a poll asking if restaurants should enforce a cell phone ban. Of 2,913 responses, 48 percent voted "yes, cell phones are too disruptive." Only 1 percent voted no way.

The JS Online article went on to recount a woman yapping loudly on her phone at a nice restaurant and a "regular" of the eatery passing her a note on his way out, which surely contained a thought or two on her phone etiquette.

It all brings us back to: How would a cell phone ban work in a mid to upscale place? Would customers avoid the restaurant because of the restriction or savor it?

Location Info

Venue

Map

The Grape

2808 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Il Cane Rosso

2612 Commerce St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

2821 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Lucia

408 W. Eighth St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Garden Cafe

2345 Oates Drive, Mesquite, TX

Category: Restaurant

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51 comments
Marlene
Marlene

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Marlene
Marlene

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Celeste Tassione
Celeste Tassione

I don't think there should be a ban.  There are always annoying people doing annoying things everywhere I go.  Personally, I do not take calls unless there it is very important and if so, I answer, ask the caller to hold briefly while I apologize to my company for the interruption,  excuse myself from the public area and finish the call.  If I'm on the phone in a store I ask the caller to hold while I check out so that I am not rude to the cashier.  Sounds like alot but it is very simple and I think, polite.

Anon
Anon

When did people becomes such whiny bitches about what goes on at a restaurant? There's a delicate balance on the spectrum from dull, to lively, to so loud you can't talk at your table. If that balance is out of whack, I don't go back to a restaurant. But I don't particularly care whether that noise comes from people talking into a phone or to each other. Annoying people carry on annoying conversations whether in person or on the phone. Besides, it can be entertaining to speculate on the other half of a conversation when you can't hear both sides.

Zamora Carl
Zamora Carl

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txnomad
txnomad

Most of the conversations I hear while dining out aren't anything that couldn't have waited.  Some even SHOULD have waited, like the description of a visit to the doctor.  People are rude and inconsiderate.

redwood big
redwood big

I am in a job where I am operational and on call 24/7 along with the fact my home alarm is tied to my cell along with life alert systems for my 75 YO mom and 89 YO mother-in-law.  So if my mom and/or mother-in-law falls and can't get up I want to receive that call wherever I am.  If I get broken into or a fire in my home, I want to receive that phone call to save the pooch.  There are good uses with cell technology so don't block the good uses for the idiot social crowd that has no common sense or practical social skills.

Tim Glass
Tim Glass

Can't get people to stop fucking around on their phones during movies, do you really expect them to do it at dinner?

Why?
Why?

Why do people get so upset when a person is on the phone, but not upset when two or more people are yakking together? I'd rather have only one person talking on the phone than be next to a table of raucous party animals. And why get upset when people are looking at their phones? What does it matter to you? Why do you care? Get over it.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

This isn't like smoking, you can't tell someone they can't use their phone, no matter how much they annoy you. Phones used in silent are much better than the way some people get loud in restaurant like it's just them and their party. Like Jonfromtjs alluded to, what's next? Some people are offended by 44EEE jugs, are you going to ban a chick from your restaurant because she's too distracting? I might pull my phone out on date night to check scores, and you know what, my wife doesn't give a damn. She wants to know the score too, and I can stream the game if it gets good.

guest
guest

IMO, hearing another patron's cell conversation is no more bothersome than conversation in general.  Restaurant/inside voices people, that's all it takes.   

jon from TJs
jon from TJs

why would you let someone talk to their dinner companion, but not make a phone call? 

pretension. 

I'd prefer if people didn't wear orange, too much perfume, ask their waiter "what's popular?" or bring any family member under the age of 19 to a restaurant.  but to insist on a ban on these things is absurd.

Storm_71
Storm_71

I'm kind of torn on this. I don't want to have to talk on the phone at dinner time but being in sales I am tied to my phone. I do try and filter out non important calls but if a customer calls I kind of have to take it.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I think the proper ettiquitte depends on the situation.  If we are at a friends dinner and we needing questions answered or maybe something on someones phone is the center of the topic, fine.  If Im on a date with the wife, then I feel its right to put the phone up for the hour or so we are at the table.  If its a work dinner that is a celebration of an accomplishment or somesuch then put it away but if its a working meal put, well you kind of need the phone.

Clancey
Clancey

We were taught it was rude to take a call-waiting call when somebody beeped in,   that implied they were more important than we were.

Dinner now features everybody but me sneaking a peek at their tel,  usually answering the message.

What's so damn important it can't wait 20 minutes?  Obviously,  it's most important than a conversation with me,    then why the Hell invite me out to begin with,  just stay in the office and send me an email.

I usually tell them to turn the damn thing off or I'm leaving. 

phinneus
phinneus

I think a better place to start would be to ban them while operating a motor vehicle. I've accepted that there are narcissistic assholes everywhere I go in Dallas, I just don't want to be run over by one.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

It will never happen because it will piss off the 30k millionaires and the self-important 30- and 40-something women who will act as if marketing coordinating is a 24/7 business. 

I've always wanted to see micro cell phone jammers--a device that could kill signals within a rather small radius, like in a movie theater. Would be perfect for restaurants as well. But I'm pretty sure such things are less than legal.

Im_Ed_Carter
Im_Ed_Carter

Be careful for what you ask for...

In house toilet paper rolling, over 55 bracket...

Jeffrey Siegel
Jeffrey Siegel

There are two very distinct categories of people using phones... I know it sounds ageist, but 'older' people 'talk' on their phones, and younger people are on them constantly but seem mystified that anyone uses them for voice calls....all their time is spent on Twitter, Facebook, texting... something silent. 

I think it's proper manners to excuse oneself and go outside or to the bar if you need to have a voice conversation during a meal. Sometimes it happens. 

As for people holding a device in their hands and silently using it? I have no objection to how a paying customer uses their time. Some people may read during a meal if alone. Others occupy themselves in other ways. Groups of my friends often all pull out their phones to Google answers to burning questions taking place at the dinner table... and then we discuss the results... it's become part of the conversation for us, not a replacement for it.

Guest
Guest

I'm all for it! I wish salons would ban them.  I treat myself occasionally to a nice mani/pedi and like to relax and enjoy it, and in the chair next to me is some yakkity chick either recounting the previous night's exploits or the "Parky" housewife planning the next month's worth of playdates for little Winston the 4th. Gah!

Alice Laussade
Alice Laussade

What if the catsitter needs to text me to say she exploded my house?

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

This is a BIG pet peeve of mine.  When I'm eating, it's my time, and I shut off the phone.  Now I understand if you are a surgeon, or a secret service agent; but if you are just a "smoe" like the rest of us, turn it off.  People that talk in restaurants, grocery stores etc, SCREAM how important they are, when in fact, it's just says "look at me!".  Wow, you have a cellphone!  AMAZING.  My summation is that folks that have the phone upon ear at all times are really lonely people. 

Cell phone banter in a restaurant is more obnoxious than those fat people that ride bikes in the middle of the street, and dress up like Lance Armstrong.  

Primi timpano
Primi timpano

I have seen late night tv ads for devices you can wear around one's neck in the event of sn unrecoverable fall. Much more effective than calling you, which may be comforting, but much less effective than an on call nearby trained and licensed Ems technician.

Cannot restaurants install jamming devices and blame the resulting silence on the phone carriers?

And as annoying as a loudly trumpeted cell call may be, it is nothing compared to an unrestrained, unmannered, improperly raised child whose mother thinks the child is so cute, after all children will be children.

Weezwas
Weezwas

 Sounds like being anywhere away from home is foolhardy in your situation. You probably should stay home anyway what with all that imminent disaster you are surrounded by.

Leave a msg, I'll call back
Leave a msg, I'll call back

 Because, for whatever reason, people talking on the cell phones are much louder than those having face-to-face conversations. Don't know if it's a cell phone dynamic or it's a look at me problem. They just get really loud.

LJT2011
LJT2011

Rare is the occasion that someone on a cell phone is speaking in a normal tone of voice.  People tend to speak at, or close to, the volume of the people they are talking to. I think the folks I've been next to are clearly speaking to someone in a convertible barrelling down the Tollway at 85. Must say I was surprised to see you aboard the child intolerance train.

LaurenDrewesDaniels
LaurenDrewesDaniels

No orange, huh? I think that'd be a brilliant ban. Let's work on it. 

jon from TJs
jon from TJs

 and where do you draw the line?  not ok at the mansion, but ok at a tacqueria?  only rich people have to turn their phones off at fancy restaurants?  a bit classist if you ask me.

Clancey
Clancey

We can endure a couple hours in the air without some damn fool with a piece of metal stuck in his ear in case the call comes to save the Western Hemisphere.

"why would you let someone talk to their dinner companion, but not make a phone call? 

pretension."

For starters,  I've either invited them for a meal,  or they've invited me.  We are sitting next to each other.  We are conducting a conversation.  We are socially interacting.  What am I supposed to do while they're on the phone yacking,  ignoring me their host or me the person they invited to a meal?  

I'm in sales,   I can't recall ever having a conversation that couldn't wait a half hour.   When someone tells me that's why they're delayed a tiny bit,  they've had a visitor or were doing a meal,   my respect for them is increased,   they obviously have class.

Maybe I'm old fashioned.   Maybe I shouldn't have thrown the $20 bill on the table at the hamburger joint when it was their invite and walked out.  But I damn sure got their attention.  And it won't ever happen again.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Right there with ya Scruff! They should all have to leave their leased bimmers and Ed Hardy shirts at home too.

LaurenDrewesDaniels
LaurenDrewesDaniels

that's a fabulous point. I freaking hate gettin' my hairs cut primarily b/c I can't stand listening to the chitchat. Cell phones can be the worse in those situations. Did you know that people can talk for an hour about fake bakes? They can. I promise. 

Mervis
Mervis

The exploded cat and house will still be there when you get.....home(?)

Tpb1101
Tpb1101

Tell her not to eat so much kimchee and she won't have a problem with explosions.

Primi timpano
Primi timpano

The surgeons, secret service agents, and other 24/7 indispensibles can use the old fashioned beepers, ask their dining companions that regretfully the world needs his or her services to prevent national catastrophy, and exit the restaurant to dispense all necessary critical communications.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Being a Secret service surgeon meself, I take no offense at your statement sir. 

Now about the Bosawx..hmmm..atleast they looked good in the old timey whites on Friday.  Y'all signed the wrong corner infielder before last year. (Beltre>Agon) and Napoli is laughing at your past descriptions of him. 

Air9erchick
Air9erchick

I think it screams codependent more than anything. The slam on people that ride bikes was lame. No matter what cyclists do they get yelled at.

thumpcbd
thumpcbd

 Someplaces install cell phone jammers, but it's an FCC violation to do so. YMMV

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

OUT! O...U...T!  There's not a finer shade in the whole color pallet than burnt orange!

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

um....this topic really bothers ya eh bud? Replying to yourself, that's cray.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

this place needs more Colombian prostitutes, I mean, escorts. Did you see that MILF?

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

they absolutely suck.....suck....suck........I'm only following the Bruins.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

*whistle*Offsides, 5 yard penalty, repeat the comment.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

but it's worse when they are TRYING to impede traffic.......get on the frickin' bike trail?

LaurenDrewesDaniels
LaurenDrewesDaniels

I wasn't thinking about that connection. I was thinking about bright orange in general...

Mervis
Mervis

And that Game 7 tomorrow will be a doozy. Great series so far, right up there with Blackhawks-Coyotes. 5 OT games out of 5 games.

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