01/07/2015 11:34 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2015

How Do Chefs Really Feel About Cell Phones in Restaurants?


Back in July, a restaurant owner posted a rant to Craigslist claiming that by comparing surveillance camera footage from 2004 and 2014, he discovered that the use of cell phones can slow down service by almost an hour, because distracted diners take longer to order, eat, and pay.

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Comparing today's scenario to the more "old-fashioned," phone-free dining experience -- receiving a menu, reviewing it, placing your order, eating your meal, paying, and leaving -- it's easy to see why this particular restaurant owner was driven into a rage. Not only did the 2004 meals (which didn't involve phones) average 1:05, they just seemed to flow better, with fewer distractions from the food and the company.

The Craigslist poster's worst-case scenario: Customers turn the waiter away multiple times because they're too distracted by their phones to even look at the menu, and when the food arrives they spend several minutes taking photos of the food (and each other with the food). They then send their food back to the kitchen for reheating because the food got cold during their photo-taking. After they're done eating, they go right back to their phones, taking a while to request the check and even longer to pay it, and then asking the waiter to take a few group photos before finally leaving, bumping into others on the way out because they're texting while walking. Average meal time? 1 hour, 55 minutes.

This was one restaurateur's experience. But how do other restaurateurs and chefs really feel about cell phone use in restaurants? We reached out to restaurant professionals from all across the country, and their opinions may surprise you.

The chefs who chimed in hail from just about every style of restaurant, from casual to high-end, and represent a wide cross-section of cuisines: Martha Wiggins (Sylvain, New Orleans), Judy Joo (the forthcoming Jinjuu, London), Ali Loukzada, (Café Serai at the Rubin Museum, New York), Jason Weiner (Almond NYC and L&W Oyster Co., New York), Cynthia Kallile (The Meatloaf Bakery, Chicago), Chris Marchino (Spiaggia/Cafe Spiaggia, Chicago), Eric Miller (Bay Kitchen Bar, East Hampton), Sean Olnowich (Bounce Sporting Club, New York), and Joe DiMaio (Stars Rooftop & Grill Room, Charleston). TV personality Nadia G and dining app entrepreneur Joshua Stern also shared their opinions.

So read on to learn about how these chefs and industry professionals feel about cell phone use in restaurants -- and the next time you're dining out, try to pay attention to how much you use yours.

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-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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