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Eva Restaurant Cellphone Discount Gives Los Angeles Patrons 5 Percent Off For Surrendering Phone

01/03/2013 05:42 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

In an age of abundant technology -- and anxiety that it's ruining relationships -- a Los Angeles restaurant has a solution. At least, one that lasts for the duration of a meal.

At Eva Restaurant on Beverly Boulevard, diners receive 5 percent off their total bill if they leave their cellphones behind.

The offer has struck a chord with people seeking to connect with their dining partners, not their screens, owner and chef Mark Gold told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.

"People have tweeted us, emailed us saying 'Oh my God, thank you for doing something,'" Gold said.

As servers explain to customers just after they're seated, participation is voluntary, but about 40 percent decide to opt in, Gold says. And surprisingly, not one response has been negative.

"No one has ever really criticized the policy," Gold said. "We understand that some people -- doctors, parents with kids at home -- need their phones, but everyone has been very positive. The incentive is there for those who want to take it."

A few similar measures have popped up around the nation. In September, a Cornell student proposed "Disconnect Days," a month of deactivation to observe campus life without digital accessories that, he thinks, are more of a burden than a benefit.

A University of Essex study links cellphones to decreased interpersonal connection. Participants held conversations in pairs, either with a cellphone present or without. Couples who conversed with a phone present reported lower relationship quality and less closeness.

Scientific American concluded that interacting without phones "seems to help foster closeness, connectedness, interpersonal trust, and perceptions of empathy —- the building-blocks of relationships." Gold wants to bring those relationships into the fabric of his business.

"We want people to really enjoy each other’s company instead of being distracted by a cell phone," Gold said. "Our restaurant is our home."

His other home can be found two buildings down from the back door of the restaurant. The location allows for plenty of time spent with his wife and two children, Nico and Eva, who shares a name with both the restaurant and Gold's grandmother.

As for their future cell phones?

"There will definitely be restrictions," Gold joked.

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