Your Cell Phone Is Ruining Dinner Again

As a restaurant customer, you often pay a hefty price for dinner. You probaby think your patronage entitles you to more than just a full belly. Dining out is a fleeting experience, after all. Maybe you'd like a memento of your pricey meal, a sort of mental flavor-saver for later. Or, maybe you'd just like to make your frenemies jealous of the extravagant entrées you so decadently charged to your employer's expense account. So, you whip out your phone, snap a few photos and splatter that visual sustenance all over social media.

Some restaurateurs couldn't be happier with all the amateur shutterbugs like you who are eating in their establishments these days. It's free publicity! Many others, though, would prefer that you left the delicate art of food photography to the pros. Even with the benefit of auto-enhancements, your images don't always make their dishes look so appetizing, you know.

Washington City Paper reports this week on restaurateurs' ongoing love-hate relationship with your cell phone. The technological tension has been simmering for quite some time now. But, even though America's widespread Instagram addiction shows no signs of stopping, various operators still cling to the hope that they can somehow control this behavior. Bans on cell phones remain common in some places, even if enforcement efforts are, frankly, futile.

Tim Ma, owner of D.C.'s Water & Wall and Maple Ave restaurants, offers the paper one possible solution: "Maybe if we see somebody starting to take pictures of the food, we could have pictures ready and be like, 'Don't worry about taking a picture. We're going to send you a picture of this dish.'" But, even he doesn't think such a proactive policy would actually work.

We, the Instagram-junkies at Food Republic, would recommend that photo-phobic restaurants give up this useless cellular crackdown and, instead, make their environs more conducive to quality picture taking. This is simply where the culture is going. Adjust your dimmers accordingly.

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