Fascist Phone-Banishing Restaurant Liberates Customers

Dining Instagrammers of the world, rejoice—the totalitarian owner at DC's Rogue24 is no longer forcing you to sign a contract before choosing to eat and pay for his food. So pull out that smartphone! Screw talking! Tweet! FILTERS!

Eater chatted with Rogue24's RJ Cooper—the epicurean Himmler behind the dining contract. He doesn't say why he caved, but he does explain the original reasoning behind the block:

Why no phones or photos?
It's really about being polite to your fellow guests and your dining companions. If everyone brings out their phones, it detracts from the experience. We're not telling you not to Tweet; we have areas to do that. You can do it in the salon or the bathroom. We just don't want cell phones in the dining room.

You're attached to your phone; you Tweet; you're on Facebook. In dining culture today, people like to document their meals in a variety of media. Do you think it's unfair to ask guests to not do that at your restaurant when it's so prevalent at other restaurants?
Let's say you're out on a date, but you sit there Tweeting. What are you doing to your companion? You're alienating them. You're in an environment that's trying to create an ambience that you can't get anywhere else. If you go to the theater, they ask you to not use flash photography, because it distracts. It's the same thing here. We're in the middle of the dining room, so the flashing distracts us as well. We're just trying to make sure that we're doing the best possible job we can for each guest. On Saturday we had 14 different dietary restrictions and it takes a tremendous amount of focus to put out our kind of cuisine for 24 courses with that many variations.

Oh hey, those points are both actually incredibly reasonable. We want to share the fun times we're having over good food, but doing so often pushes away those we're eating with, distorts the purpose of the meal per se, and annoys everyone around us. I don't take any issue with Cooper trying to keep phones out of his dining room—it's his joint, and he wants the food to be about the food, not a JPEG of the food. It's the contract that put him into maniac territory. But if guests aren't required to ink an agreement anymore, a softer means of enforcement sounds alright. And besides, we all know everyone's just going to text under the table anyway. [Eater]