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LA restaurant offers discount for dining without your phone (updated)

Would you check your phone at the door for a 5% discount?
Would you check your phone at the door for a 5% discount?

We check in with Eva restaurant owner Mark Gold, whose policy of offering a 5-percent discount for customers who give up their cell phones went viral last week.

Update: Last week, Eva restaurant owner Mark Gold joined AirTalk to discuss his new policy of giving customers who check their phones at the door a 5 percent discount on their bill. Interesting concept, but it didn’t seem that groundbreaking. That is until the Interwebs got a hold of it.

The Associated Press put the story out on its wire and the story went viral. The next day Gold woke up with an inbox full of media requests and calls from his mother who said CNN was looking for him.

"I was shocked ... Quite frankly, I didn't have any expectations. We were running for two months, and then, being slow in the summertime at the restaurant here, I figured I'd send it to the local paper," said Gold on AirTalk. "Never did I think it would go this far."

Since the KPCC interview last week, Eva Restaurant owner says he’s done about 40 interviews with major outlets including Marketplace, CNN and Good Morning America.

German, Irish and Indian radio stations have requested interviews and his Twitter feed has seen tweets from all over world, including Afghanistan.

"I've gotten numerous emails from restaurant owners, shop owners from all over the world saying, 'What a great policy' and 'Thank you so much,' and 'We're going to implement something like this.'" said Gold. "It seems like every five minutes there's somebody calling, and it's still going on. This is a week later and we just got German radio calling us right now, and something from India, it's just crazy."

Gold's new cell-phone policy may have gone viral worldwide, but has it translated to an increase in business? Not so much, says Gold.

"We've seen a little bit of an increase, but not as much as we expected," he said. "I think it's still summertime, school gets back into session in a week or so. I think once school starts, we're going to see a big increase."

Original Story from Aug, 14, 2012:

It’s become part of the restaurant table setting: knife, fork, napkin and cell phone.

Distracted dining is the new norm with customers constantly texting friends, tweeting an Instagram photo of the meal they’re about to chow down or emailing the boss. For many smart-phone users, it’s hard just to focus on the meal and company at hand.

Now, one restaurant in Los Angeles is giving diners a reason to turn off the digital world, by offering customers willing to check their phones at the door a 5-percent discount on their bill. Owner/chef Mark Gold of Eva Restaurant, located on Beverly Boulevard near N. Gardner Street, hopes this gives customers a way to truly sit back and relax, enjoy their meal and actually talk to with friends and family in-person.

"For us, it's really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again," he explained. "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."

Gold said instating the suggestion reminds him to keep cell phone usage at bay, too. "I'm guilty of it as well. When [my wife and I] go to dinner it seems like the cell phone is part of the table setting now. Every table you look at, it's a wine glass, the silverware and the cell phone," he joked.

The husband and wife team runs Eva, a 40-person space with European flair. Gold said a little less than half take advantage of the deal, and no one has gotten upset about it.

"I think once the server approaches the table and they're presented with the offer, they like the idea of actually talking to each other again," he said.

Weigh In:

Is distracted dining a pet peeve of yours? Would you be willing to check your phone at the door? Should more restaurants crack down on cell phone use?


Mark Gold, Owner/chef of Eva Restaurant in West Hollywood

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