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Televisions at restaurant tables


TPO
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When a Night Out Is Dinner and a (TV) Show

Apparently one of the new trends in restaurants is televisions at dining tables. The article starts with a family who doesn't watch television at home and goes to Zucchini's as a treat. Will this be their typical customer, instead of the people who are hungry but unwilling to miss an hour's worth of television? Somehow, I don't think so.

"People with kids will wait for an hour for a table with a TV, even if another table is free," said Lynne Soldato, who owns Zucchini's with her husband, Michael.

One of the reasons I like dining out is for the undivided attention given and received during the meal (as long as dining companions shut off cell phones, that is). What do you think -- natural progression of technology and dining, or just another obstacle in the quest for social interaction?

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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"You talk, you laugh, you eat, you have a beer," he said, "and you watch when you have nothing to say."

How very sad to be with one's family, socializing, and have nothing to say to them ... :sad: This, should it become commonplace, only serves to further isolate people within the family ... just my opinion.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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This is very sad.

There's a definite attraction for people to disconnect from whatever is really going on in life into the world of electronic entertainment of all sorts, though. Just look at the amount of people walking around talking on cell phones about totally inane things while life is walking by in all its glory right in front of them.

And for sure, kids are hard to turn into polite pleasant beings. They always have been. This is an easy straw to grasp for tired parents. But really, how terribly sad.

P.S. I just scanned down just before posting this and saw GG's post. Same word. She used the same word. Yes, sad is what it is.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Really dreadful. We sometimes go to bar/restaurant places that have lots of TV's visible, and I always try to place myself so that no TV is in my field of vision, because I find that if I can see a TV, I start looking at it. It draws my attention, even if it's not something I want to watch, just because it's there. I can't imagine having one on the table. Before my husband and I had a child, we used to eat dinner on the couch in front of the TV - now we have the TV in a different room and everyone sits at the table to eat. And we actually talk to each other - imagine that! No TV with my dinner, please.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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Gah.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Yeesh. Just dealt with this last weekend! Took my almost 4 year-old niece to the local pizzeria for a slice; she sat staring at (GAAAACK) America's Top Model. Why? Because that's what was on the giant flat screen, and since there's no tv in their house, she's GLUED whenever she sees one.

You heard me...

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I'd never go to a place like that.

Even though I do watch tv during dinner sometimes--not when I've made a spectacular meal. And I didn't allow it very often when my kids were at home, either. But the dining room is the center of our house and our social life here at home. We don't ever watch tv in the living room.

My husband would rather not have one at all, but I like having the tv on when there's something really boring to be done...and since he doesn't have to do the housework, it's my choice.

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I just scanned down just before posting this and saw GG's post. Same word. She used the same word. Yes, sad is what it is.

How about "pathetic"? Maybe even "pitiful"? I know that much of what I learned as a child came from discussions with my parents at our dinner table ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Yeah, we definitely should get the thesaurus out on this one.

What strikes me is that this is even "beyond" the traditional dinner table where, as you say, families learn so much about each other if they are lucky enough to be able to share the time, and when the parent(s) define that the time should be spent together.

This is in "public". This is in a sense, on a special occassion.

Does this in any way provide the children with any of the instruction in manners and "how to behave in public with other people" that they supposedly will need later in life to succeed and survive and do well in public places on public occassions?

Urgh. Definite disservice to the children.

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I have two points of view on this, one more recent than the other.

My husband is a rabid college football fan. I like it too, but I don't feel quite so obligated to watch unless a team I care about is playing. (I'd rather watch pro football where the athletes legally get paid for their services.) When we lived in Ohio, we only got the channels the aerial on the roof was able to pull in. Needless to say, we weren't able to get particularly important games such as the annual Colorado-Colorado State matchup. On these nights (and they were inevitably night games, with a kickoff time approaching insanity in the eastern time zone) we'd go to Ray's, a restaurant in the town we lived in, sit in our favorite waiter's section, and very nicely ask for one of the TVs to be tuned to Fox Sports Rocky Mountain. Before the kitchen closed we'd get a late dinner or some munchies and a couple of drinks, and we'd stay usually at least till halftime. But in these cases, we were going specifically for the TV, not for the food. The night Mario Lemieux un-retired, we went to this same restaurant so we could watch the hockey game. Had bars been smoke-free in Ohio, we probably would have gone to one of those instead in both these cases.

Fast-forward to last Monday evening. We went to a place here, with a burgers-and-sandwiches type menu. (It was either that or Italian, and nobody was in the mood for Italian that night.) They'd always had televisions here and there, but they were muted and only about half of them were new enough to have closed-captioning. We'd found them pretty easy to ignore in the past. On this particular night, we were seated at a booth. And much to our surprise, our table and every other booth was now equipped with a personal flat-panel TV with its own remote. Just for the heck of it, I turned it on, and it was equipped with this area's selection of analog cable channels, and a set of speakers. I turned it off immediately, because if we'd wanted to watch TV together we would have done that at someone's house. But we'd gone to the restaurant specifically to enjoy each other's company as well as to get a bite of dinner. And just imagine the din of six or eight televisions, each broadcasting their own channel and each turned up loud enough to be heard over the typical restaurant clatter...ouch.

I fear it's an abomination that won't go away. And that restaurant is now off our list.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Words fricking fail. Sure, it's one thing to go to a joint to catch a sports event on the big screen.

But individual TVs tableside? This is the end of the world as I know it.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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A disturbing trend, to say the least. Aside from the typical sports bar, where TVs have been omnipresent for years, the only restaurant I've seen this trend in first-hand is SangKee Chinese Bistro in Wynnewood, PA. Luckily, the TVs are not placed at every single table. There is one in the waiting area and several small flat panels at the kitchen bar. Mind you, this is not a beer and booze bar, just a dinner bar for those that don't want to wait for a table. It's frightening to see people's eyes glaze over, drawn to the small flat panel while in the waiting area or to the bar screens from half way across the dining room. I've seen small children get up from their table and wander back to the waiting area just to plant themselves about 12 inches from the screen -- today's babysitter indeed.

What's my point? I still eat here on occasion because it's one of the better outposts for decent Chinese food on the Eastern Main Line. That said, I adamantly refuse to sit at the bar, a choice I would normally take without pause to avoid a long wait for a table. To make a long story short, keep the TV at home. Eat in front of it if you want, no matter how bad it is for your digestion and inner peace. But keep the idiot box out of the restaurant. When dining out, do it with good friends, not a hypnotizing video stream.

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The family that dines together while watching TV is the family that stays together, not that any of them would notice.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Two rules about TV's in my household:

1. No TV in the dining room. We like our after-meal talks.

2. No TV in the bedrooms. That's where we read.

Now, I do watch a lot of TV. I keep it on sometimes while I'm working on something else, but there has to be a limit.

I guess there is a market for people who need a TV when they go out to eat... sadly the target seems to be children. They're so used to it nowadays...

I'm just glad I have the choice not to go there.

Sad, indeed

Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

My Blog, en Español

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I wonder just how much farther the act of eating can be removed from the food itself.

Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

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I fear it's an abomination that won't go away. And that restaurant is now off our list.

My reaction exactly. There is a very good Chinese restaurant in town that is now off our list after they installed TVs in the dining room. If I wanted to watch TV while I ate, I have a much nicer one at home.

I can see TVs being in bars or sports bars/restaurants where part of the experience is going to watch the game. But in a restaurant? No, thanks, I when I go out to eat I want to relax and converse.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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No worries, mates. Just order one of these handy gadgets: TV-B-Gone.

:rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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On another recent thread the question was raised of when it would be appropriate to walk out of a restaurant. To me, walking into a restaurant (mass-market or not) and finding individual television screens on or near the table would be quite enough of a clue to me that a u-turn and rapid exit was in order.

I must add though that if I had walked into the restaurant not merely for pleasure but in my role of restaurant critic, I would indeed take my place and make my way through the meal. I can assure one and all, however, that the t.v. would have a prominent and not at all positive place in my review of that establishment.

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One of my favorite sushi bars has a big TV behind the counter. Sometimes it is off, but I have stopped going there because of the gamble that it might be on, and loud.

I always think of sushi chefs a entertainers. Why would they want competition?

BB

Food is all about history and geography.

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This reminds me of my first sunday in Athens, a couple ytears back. My friends were too hungover to leave their apartment and instead of staying in my hotel room and watching Greek TV I went wandering around the city. Every cafe, every ouzeria, every esteatorio was full, packed mostly with what seemed to be extended families. And I thought "It's Sunday, isn't there a game on? Don't they have the Euro-PGA tour here? What are these people doing talking to the families when they should be watching TV all day?"

That's when I really started liking Greece.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I like to go to a bar with a big-screen TV sometimes to watch a game. I may eat there, but not food you have to pay much attention to. Who does these families' laundry anyway? All I can think is they must get a lot of food on themselves while staring at the screen and absent-mindedly conveying forkfulls to their mouths. Also, I can't help thinking this practice will lead to overweight. One of the first things they tell you in most diet programs is not to eat while doing something else so that you can be aware of what you're consuming.

I find the ubiquity of video screens very annoying. The latest thing in one of our chain supermarkets is to have TVs playing infomercials at each checkout. It's obnoxious. Even worse, to my mind, our public library plays some kind of closed-circuit TV that you can't avoid watching as you stand in line to get books. It's information that's potentially of interest to library-goers but I don't think they should shove it in your face that way; it adds to the video overload we're all experiencing.

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That's when I really started liking Greece.

Slightly off-topic, but it was a trip to Greece that made me finally decide to leave the corporate life.

Everyone looked so totally ridiculous when I went back to work. . .rushing around in tight expensive clothes, pushing memos at each other as if the world would end in a split second if "something" was not done about. . .what were really nothings.

:smile: It felt as if I had entered the Land of the Insane.

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I wonder just how much farther the act of eating can be removed from the food itself.

TV helmet, nutrition/antibiotics intravenous, chewing styrofoam packing pellets for that satisfying crunchy "taste", sitting on the toilet.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I wonder just how much farther the act of eating can be removed from the food itself.

TV helmet, nutrition/antibiotics intravenous, chewing styrofoam packing pellets for that satisfying crunchy "taste", sitting on the toilet.

Oh my -- sorry I asked. Those visuals will haunt me for the rest of the day. HA!!!

:laugh:

Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

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