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When diners' eyes feast on their cellphones

Some restaurants try to accommodate smartphone addicts and even join in. Others try to discourage the diner distraction.

January 26, 2012|By Jessica Gelt | Los Angeles Times

Plus, if a diner is constantly submerged in his or her phone, it's difficult to provide good service, which by its very definition must be interactive, says Paige Reilly, the manager of the beer program at Echo Park's Mohawk Bend and Tony's Darts Away in Burbank. She relates a story about two men she once saw who did not talk to each other at dinner more than once but constantly showed each other text messages that they were sending to other people.

"I think by the time it was over, I was laughing out loud," she says.

Cellphones aren't always a distraction, though, says Jerry Garbus, general manager of M.B. Post in Manhattan Beach. They can also provide a useful way of connecting with others while dining.

"The cellphone in our dining room is a seamless thing," says Garbus. "We've had guests literally reading a review on Yelp and ordering what was in the review during service."

Diners at M.B. Post also regularly check in at the restaurant on Facebook via their phones (the restaurant has nearly 1,500 Facebook check-ins).

"It creates a unique and fun environment. I'm friends with many of our guests, and when someone checks in I can see it on my phone and go and say hello," says Garbus.

M.B. Post's chef, David LeFevre, also keeps an active Twitter feed on which he regularly posts pictures of food.

"He tweeted this photo of him holding a sheet tray of bacon as it came out of the oven and posted a photo of our sticky buns on Facebook, and it just blew up and everybody left comments and wanted to be a part of it," says Garbus.

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