There’s no question that we’re all addicted to our cell phones on some level. Whether we’re texting or just mindlessly scrolling social media, it’s become distracting in many settings.
Do you even remember the last time you sat down at the dinner table without your phone? It’s frustrating when you’re trying to have a conversation while the other person is looking at their phone.
Some would say that’s the responsibility of the people at the table, but one restaurant is trying to change that.
Tim Love, a Fort Worth area chef who owns several restaurants thinks it’s about damn time people enjoyed a smartphone-free dinner.
So he decided to open an Italian restaurant called Caterina’s, where customers will be required to place their phones into small bags in order to dine there.
Customers at Caterina’s will be required to place their phones into small bags before sitting down to eat. “The hostess gives each guest a pouch to put their phone in and the pouch stays with the guest the whole dinner,” Tim told Paper City. “We’re going to kindly ask them to put their phone in the bag. […] We give them the bag. They put their phone in the bag. It’s not a big deal.”
If the guest needs to make or receive a call, they have an old-school bright-red rotary landline. If a customer receives a call, staff will walk over to their table with the phone. “And, if someone really needs to access their cell during dinner, they are welcome to simply walk outside to use it,” Tim assured.
A food blogger from Paper City asked: “What about people like me who want to take photos of the space and their memorable meal?” “We’ve already thought of that,” Tim replied. “We are going to send a follow-up email to all the reservations the next day, including a photo of everything they ordered. So they can share it online to their hearts’ content.”
Tim assured that if a customer needs to use their cell phone, they can simply walk outside to use it.
Tim’s intent is to create a place for people to disconnect and talk to their friends and fellow diners. They want guests to connect with the ambiance and food without the distraction of technology.
“If you can’t possibly deal without your phone for two hours, this is not the place for you,” Tim told NBC. “I mean, people go to movies, they don’t get on their phone.” But this isn’t the only rule at the restaurant.
Inspiration for the restaurant comes from the 40s and 50s. It’s an intimate space, seating only 40 guests at a time, and has a strict dress code. To keep it classy, men are required to wear a sport coat and will even provide one at the door if you don’t have one.
“Caterina’s guests will be treated to a multi-course meal,” Tim told Paper City. “It’s slow dining, or what I like to call analog dining where the entire experience encourages you to slow down. There will be lots of little surprises throughout the meal.”
Inspiration for the restaurant comes from the 40s and 50s. To keep it classy, men are required to wear a sport coat and will even provide one at the door if you don’t have one.
This is a solid idea to encourage guests to socialize, but what about folks who prefer dining solo and don’t enjoy chatting with random strangers? There are also many who use their cell phone to monitor blood sugar levels, check in with babysitters, etc.
When people heard about the concept it inspired quite the discussion on social media. Ableism, as described by Access Living, is the discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior, which encourages harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalizations of people with disabilities.
In this case, people are concerned this may discriminate against folks who need their phones to communicate or monitor health conditions.
“I wanted to create a little jewel box,” Tim said. “A place where people could get dressed up, and enjoy a relaxed meal and good conversation”
“I wanted to create a little jewel box,” Tim told Paper City. “A place where people could get dressed up, and enjoy a relaxed meal and good conversation.” Make sure to make a reservation if you’re interested in seeing it for yourself! “The cellphone thing will no doubt be a hurdle, but I think people will thank me on the way out,” Tim told Fort Worth.
While some love the concept, others have questions – what about guests who need their phones for medical reasons, or those with elderly parents or babysitters?
Commenters are torn. Many are in support of the idea, noting how addicted we all seem to be to our phones and have short attention
Others pointed out potential problems such as ableism, and whether it’s fair to solo diners.