Special Report: Restaurants roll out cell phone bans

National

(CBS/WKRG) — Some restaurants are fed up with cell phone disruptions and are offering deals to diners who unplug during their meal.

The owner of a New York City restaurant envisioned a place where diners could not only enjoy a good meal… they could connect in conversation.

But, over the years, Hearth Chef Marco Canora noticed something very different happening.

“No one was communicating, and it was infuriating to me,” said Canora.

His solution is subtle. Old boxes are placed on each table with a note that says ‘Open Me.’

“There’s another note here that says, “We’d like to invite you to unplug during your meal at Heart,” according to Canora.

“I love it. I really love it,” customer Chris Sampson said while dining with his friends. “If I go to a restaurant and cell service doesn’t work, I’m secretly happy about that.”

At a sushi restaurant in New Jersey, every Tuesday night customers are invited to do the same. Instead of a box, there’s a champagne bucket, and diners enjoy at 20% discount if they make it through their meal without their phones.

Other restaurants have rolled out cell phone policies from limiting photography to instituting full bans. Bon Appetit editor Julia Kramer isn’t surprised. “Restaurants have benefited greatly from how obsessed people are with taking photos of their food, but there’s a flip side of that and maybe it’s a backlash as well. This type of behavior is also very disruptive,” said Kramer.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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