A restaurant in Sydney will give a free glass of wine to any customer who give staff their smartphone to be locked away during their meal.
Contact Bar and Kitchen on Crown Street in Woolloomooloo has a set of small lockers where staff place the phone for the entirety of the meal.
Customers are given a small key for the locker.
According to Markus Stauder, the restaurant’s owner, the move is designed to help people connect — hence the name of the restaurant.
“I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 20 years. Over time I saw phones intruding during the meal more and more,” he says.
“I thought, why do we keep getting dragged to our devices over and over?”
“I just want people to enjoy the food and drinks. People miss half the night because they’re on their phone.”
Stauder’s upbringing might have something to do with his aversion to technology at the dinner table.
“I grew up in a quiet little town in the alps in the Italian Dolomites where life just eventuates as it does.”
There’s not a total phone ban though, so if some customers want to hold onto their phone they can.
The free glass of wine is simply “a way to incentivise customers,” Stauder says.
And as for the customer’s feedback, he says “so far we’ve had a 100% success rate. They love it.”
When asked how customers react once their phones are locked away, he says “people feel a little bit naked at first, which you can see even when they first sit down.”
“Some people start looking around and they look a little bit lost, but they snap out if it very quickly.
“The best conversations and nights come out of it,” he says.
Contact isn’t the only restaurant to offer such incentives.
Sneaky’s Chicken in Iowa offers a 10% discount on meals if customers agree to put their phone in a box, and not touch it during the meal.
Meanwhile, a restaurant in Israel decided to give a 50% discount to anyone willing to completely switch off their phones for the duration of their meal.
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