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Would You Pay A Restaurant to Charge Your Cellphone?

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
May 6, 2014

Gif credit: Etallion Girl, Tumblr

What sort of demands did we make in restaurants before the advent of electronic devices? Water for the table. Bread and buttergratis. Good service; solid food.

None of these are so outrageous, but in this brave new world, it’s increasingly common to see a panicky-looking person waving a cellphone in the general direction of a bartender, waiter, or manager: It’s become de rigeur to ask the barkeep to plug in one’s phone. But staffs are starting to question whether they should bear the brunt of someone else’s lack of planning.

Brendan McGill of Washington restaurant Hitchcock is the latest to pose the question, Eater reports, on his Facebook page: “People waving their dead iPhones at bartenders is becoming epidemic. A service you might provide to a friend or regular has become an expectation - busy service staff who already have plenty to worry about are also expected to juggle a full bar’s dead phones.”

McGill goes on to ask whether he should institute a $5 menu surcharge for charging phones, or have waiters bring charging packs around the tables on a silver platter, or perhaps refuse to charge phones at all. His primary point seems to be that “if your server is messing around with your phone, they’re not attending to your more dining-related needs, nor those in the rest of their section.”

The conversation spilled over into the pages of the Seattle Times, where McGill emailed a reporter that installing outlets under the bar might be the smartest solution: “the ‘purse hooks’ of the ’10s.” Sleekly designed outlets below the bar are potentially something we can get behind, assuming it didn’t present a whole new slew of issues with customers’ feet getting tangled in wires.

But if everyone at the bar is plugged in, doesn’t it alter the nature of a bar, turning it into a high-tech library of sorts (plus bourbon)? We’ll be curious to see if anyone successfully institutes a cellphone charging fee without inciting a riot.

[via Eater]