Next to table lingering, cellphones are the scourge of fine dining. Nothing takes you out of the moment more than a dinner companion tapping on their phone and wearing a blasé expression. But get used to it, because the world’s top chefs are throwing in the towel: they say phones at dinner are here to stay.
“Anytime one guest’s phone invades the space of another guest it’s too much. But when guests use their phones for discreet texting or emailing, or better still, as a camera to photograph something they loved and promote our restaurant via social media, who are we to complain?” Gramercy Tavern’s Danny Meyer told Bloomberg.
“Phones are part of going to a restaurant today: Most people are texting or taking photos, which doesn’t bother anyone. Look at all the food pictures on Instagram. I do the same thing myself,” Jean-Georges Vongerichten added.
But while Instagram shots and quiet texting is the norm these days, taking phone calls is still taboo at some NYC institutions.
“In general, if someone’s on the phone more than five minutes, we kindly ask them to continue the call outside,” Keith McNally, the owner of Balthazar.
And Will Guidara, co-owner of Eleven Madison, says that they shoo cellphone talkers into special sections of the restaurant. “We have a couple of places in the restaurant where we encourage people to take calls if need be, but it almost never happens,” he said.