Forget about chocolates and toothpicks with your check. Diners at Washington, D.C.'s Old Ebbitt Grill will now get news updates.
What is believed to be the first-ever experiment printing news and advertising as restaurant receipts has been launched at the revered restaurant, a favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Theodore Roosevelt.
Called "The Latest News," the separate "news receipt" will feature the latest headlines from The Associated Press and be passed out with checks, coffee or dessert. Mind you, this won't be recycled news from earlier in the day. Instead, it will deliver news that broke during the course of your courses.
"The news industry is looking for new ways to monetize the news, and we saw restaurant printers as a potential new worldwide printing press," said Leland Schwartz, a former journalist and co-founder of Print Signal Corp., a start-up company. "We're great believers in the power of paper, despite the fact that we're in the middle of iPhone heaven. So the idea behind it is to see if news updates would work in certain venues, particularly upscale restaurants."
What, exactly, is Schwartz's beef with smartphones? Nothing, really, except he believes they contribute to the demise of real, live human interaction. He, along with co-founder (and former NPR president) Frank Mankiewicz believe that the paper news will actually help foster conversation.
It may come as no surprise that the venture's first advertiser is paper manufacturer Domtar, based in Montreal.
"We've got thousands of news-hungry Washingtonians coming to lunch, so we're giving 'The Latest News' a shot," Ebbitt's managing director, David Moran, said in a statement. "If this works at the Old Ebbitt, it just might sweep across the world."