Two Texas restaurants offered to take 20 percent off of their customers’ bills if they gave up their cellphones during their meal on Monday night.
“We figure this Christmas time, why don’t we give some kind of incentive to see if people can have some family time, some real quality time,” Gerry Sarmiento, owner of Mezzanotte and Piqueo restaurants in Cypress, said.
Sarmiento said that he and his wife often see families who don’t talk to each other during dinner because they’re too busy texting or checking Facebook.
Sarmiento and his wife said that almost every customer took them up on their offer. Cellphones and other electronic devices were then secured in a drawer at the restaurant.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Debbie Meehan of Cypress, one customer, said. “We’ve been having a little more fun I think.”
Casey McGuirk of Tomball, who met her friend at Sarmiento’s restaurant to exchange gifts, said she liked the idea. McGuirk added that she and her friend had more conversation than they normally would have had.
By the time the restaurants closed on Monday night, Sarmiento decided to offer the special again on Tuesday. He argued that while customers might have gone home with fewer selfies and one less check-in on Facebook, he thinks the idea was worth it.
One restaurant in Ohio offered a similar discount in May to those who checked their phones at the door, much to the satisfaction of locals.