NOW that we’re accustomed to checking- in at the local cafe, we might have to stow our phones at the door.
Due to our hyper- connectivity on social media, discreetly checking- in when we sit down to dine has become second- nature.
Phones are good for business as we connect, promote and recommend through social networks. We like to tell people where we’ve been, what’s good and what to avoid.
Many venues encourage patrons to check- in on Foursquare and Facebook, tag friends and claim rewards like discounts and freebies.
The ‘‘ food paparazzi’’ of Instagram snap photos of their well- plated dishes and upload them on the spot. Instagramming dinner is a time- consuming hobby so well practised, it’s turning into an art.
Online live- reviewing on sites such as Twitter, Yelp and Chowhound are taken as recommendations or warnings by other would- be patrons.
Restaurants aiming to appeal to a younger crowd even offer iPad menus, QR codes, and other digital trappings into their menus.
But while restaurants, cafes, clubs and retail stores have been encouraging digital dining, there is a growing trend away from the tech- enabled dining experience.
Los Angeles restaurants are leading the way back to a simpler era, introducing 5 and 10 per cent discounts for turning in your mobile phone before you sit down.
LA’s Eva Restaurant has been all over the international press for offering patrons a discount for handing staff their digital devices before being seated.
Owner and chef Mark Gold told the LA Times he hoped patrons would focus on their food and each other, not their phones.
‘‘ For us, it’s really not about people disrupting guests,’’ he said.
‘‘ Eva is home and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again.
‘‘ It’s about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone, and we’re trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company.’’
If using phones is an intrinsic part of modern culture, why would we be discouraged? Well, because social networking is a bit anti- social in real life.
Looking around a crowded restaurant and seeing insular people engrossed in their glowing screens isn’t the kind of atmosphere many venues want to evoke.
Phone etiquette is simply respecting the company you keep, but it’s easy to be complacent when we’re all so obsessed with multi- tasking.