Dos and Don’ts of Using Your Cell Phone in Restaurants

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EDP’s Totally Subjective
Dos and Don’ts Using a Cell Phone
in Restaurants

Obviously, those white-gloved Letitia Baldridges (et al) have declared that it’s totally not cool to whip out your cell phones and start yakking away in restaurants. Admitted. That’s ugly behavior, but many of these etiquette “experts” are seriously out of touch, too. Take this one who claims that, in restaurants, cell phones should be turned off or placed in silent mode. She also offers posts titled How to be Lovely and Being a Lady and neither (I’ve read ’em) include the use of a time machine.

No. Just no. We’re not going back to pillbox hats and white gloves. And you can take your girdles with weird strappy things and shove those items of torture, too. Today’s diner is bringing his or her cellphones to the restaurant and, listen, and that sucker will be switched on. Our task as an evolving civil society is to decide what’s OK and what’s not OK when it comes to using cell phones in restaurants.

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Here are EDP’s cell Dos and Don’ts to using cell phones in restaurants:

DON’T have your ringer on. Simple as that. There is no excuse for using your ringer at a restaurant. Either set it to vibrate and stick in your pocket or set it to silent and then check it once and a while.

DON’T put it on vibrate and then leave it on the table. Duh. That dull tinkling in the water glasses is not a subway going through the basement. It’s your phone, Jackwipe.

DON’T take calls in dining rooms. I don’t care how great your phone is, you definitely talk louder on your cell phone than you do in person. When you take a cell phone call at the table, you are talking louder than everyone else in the room—and that makes you a bad person.

DON’T hide from other diners behind your cell phone. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s say that you’re shy or socially uncomfortable, and so you dodge the stress of eye contact by running through your emails or scanning Facebook while sitting at the table. You are a sad monkey. Nut up and be present.

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DON’T whip out an iPad at dinner—except only briefly (if absolutely necessary) and only in the absence of a cell phone. iPad screens are large, bright, and distracting to other diners, who may be paying for the privilege of avoiding their own screens for a while.

DON’T consider your cellphone a representative for a quasi-absent diner. Don’t repeatedly text or take photos of the meal to involve your friend who didn’t bother to make it to dinner. Look, if he wanted to be there, he’d be there. And this dining room isn’t a broadcast booth. Turn your attention to the folks in the room.

DON’T have your device tuned to the big game even if it’s the playoffs or the Super Bowl or The Predator vs. The Alien. There are plenty of restaurants around that have TVs the size of garage roofs. Go ahead and eat at one if the game is that important.

DON’T ignore your waiter while you talk on the phone or text. That is just as dishraggy as wearing a Bluetooth device on your ear.

DO make reasonable use of texting. That means, excuse yourself to your fellow diners (“Oooh. Sorry, I just need to text my wife about the car”) and then discretely text.

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DO discretely scan your emails, if you absolutely must, with the phone held under the edge of the table. Always apologize to your fellow diners (“Sorry, I have this nightmare going on at the office”) and don’t abuse their grace. Don’t scan your emails if you don’t really need to—that means no being a sad monkey. You owe it to your tablemates to be present during the meal that you’re sharing.

DO go outside if you need to place/take a call. It’s ok to say to your fellow diners, “Oh, so sorry—I’ve got to take this. Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”

DO text away like a crazy when your dining partner leaves to visit the bathroom or to take a call. Do the same when he (hopefully!) apologizes and then bangs out a text on his own phone.

DO (and this one is transgressive) allow your young child to play with your device if it keeps the peace in the dining room. PS: that means headgear. But, for your child’s sake (and for the sake society in general), teach him or her to converse during meals. We don’t want to breed a generation of sad monkeys.

DO code switch. All restaurants are different. It might be perfectly OK to text your way through a casual lunch, but completely not OK to text during an elegant dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Don’t pretend not to know the difference (and if you honestly don’t know the difference, then you shouldn’t be at Blue Hill at Stone Barns).

DO love the one you’re with. Meaning: the people physically present in the room take precedence over the people in your phone.

DO you have any Dos and DON’Ts that you’d like to add? Drop me a private email on the Eaterline or join the conversation in the comments section below.

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Awwwww, Geek Out!
Get your geek on. Get your geek on. (And about a thousand other plays on the using the word “geek” for “freak”) If you are a nerd that likes to drink, check out these great upcoming trivia nights.

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
April 25, 7 pm
Look for food by Village Dog and trivia by Nick Schwartz and Austin Ashley. From the site, “Experience the all new trivia here at CLBC. New format with new categories makes for a much more interactive experience. A new format for prizes allows the victors to carry their points over as long as they want to accumulate for bigger better prizes including kegs of beer, private tours and much more. To earn even more points email and sign up you team with name early.”

Growlers Beer Bistro
April 30, 7:30 pm
The top three teams win $35 in gift certificates, which may be redeemed for branded Growlers stuff (boo!) or free Growlers drinks (yay!). Look for trivia by Trivia Tryst—staffed by comedians and humorists who have parlayed their quizmastership into a day jobs. Trivia nights are Tuesday.

Wednesday is geek day at Gleason’s. Follow Gleason’s on Facebook to see what you’re in for.

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Charcuterie at Liquid Kitchen
The black-and-red décor at this small tapas bar in New Rochelle might be a little outré, but the tapas being slung here are definitely worth a visit. Behind the bar, you’ll find a short wine list and the basic cocktails, but Liquid Kitchen’s secret weapon is in its kitchen. This bar is cheffed by a refugee from CT’s beloved Barcelona chain. We ducked in for crisp and yummy patatas bravas, which came with aioli and spicy tomato sauce. And, pictured above, we found the perfect match for a mid-week glass of Tempranillo: Liquid Kitchen’s delicious charcuterie with Serrano ham, dried chorizo, lomo, and salchichón. 

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Fine Seafood—and a Chance to Win the Fulton Fish Market Sweepstakes!

Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first seafood lover to want to get fresh with Rick Ross. Eastchester Fish Gourmet’s long-time owner welcomes the opportunity nightly.

With more than 30 years’ experience in the selection of seafood, Rick leads a team of professionals that ventures very early each morning to the Bronx-based New Fulton Fish Market. There, they personally pick out the freshest, fanciest and most flavorful fish.

Only the top choices earn a trip to Scarsdale’s favorite market and fine dining experience, Eastchester Fish Gourmet, which Rick opened in 1981. The restaurant’s eclectic menu changes daily to reflect the best catches coming out of the fish market – everything from 200-pound swordfish to 2-pound branzino. Everything is then hand-cut and filleted right at Eastchester Fish Gourmet, once again ensuring that the freshest, tastiest seafood lands on patrons’ plates.

Want to see Rick demonstrating his seafood-selecting skills? View the video here.

And while you’re visiting the site, be sure to sign up for the Fulton Fish Market Sweepstakes. You just might win the honor of joining Rick at the fish market, where you can get a fresh start picking out your own seafood for a fancy four-course meal served the following night at the restaurant.


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