Sunday 28 December 2014

Restaurants serve up ban on mobile phones

Joyce Fegan and Emma Jane Hade

Published 21/04/2014 | 02:30

Chef Dylan McGrath

GROWING numbers of hotels and restaurants have introduced a "no mobile phone" policy in response to widespread use of the devices over dinner.

Many have become exasperated with diners chatting, texting or even playing games on their tablet or phone to the detriment of other diners.

There are even some who would back a nationwide ban on phones in high-end dining rooms – although most restaurateurs agree it is a matter of choice and good manners.

'MasterChef' judge Dylan McGrath said that he believes a mobile phone policy should be implemented in accordance with the "relaxation" of the restaurant.

"I have done a number of different restaurants at different levels – in terms of etiquette, and in terms of what's formal, what's casual and what's precious," he said.

"If you were in a fine-dining restaurant and were spending €160 on your dinner, you would probably be a little bit resentful if the guy beside you was tapping away on his phone."

However, a complete ban on mobile phones in dining areas is not a move that would be backed by the Restaurant Association of Ireland.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the organisation, said that it "isn't something (they) would support".

"There has to be a common sense approach," he said. He believes that it is "obvious manners" that a person would turn their phone on silent while they are dining but that it is important for some customers to access their phones – such as parents who might need to take a call from children at home.

Both restaurants in Kelly's Hotel in Rosslare, Co Wexford, are now "Mobile Free Zones", according to its managing director Billy Kelly.

Five-star resort the Aghadoe Heights Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, also prohibits the use of phones in its dining area.

"This is in the interest of fellow diners and their dining experience with us," explained Marie Chawke, general manager in Aghadoe.

"Obviously the use of phones is important for professionals on call etc, but the use of silent and vibrate would be acceptable."

However, well-known hotelier Francis Brennan, of the Park Hotel in Kenmare, Co Kerry, and leading chef Darina Allen, of Ballymaloe House in Cork, both said that have not had the need to make a similar move.

When asked if she would back a campaign to limit mobile phone use, Ms Allen said "it goes back to the old-fashioned thing of good manners".

Irish Independent

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