Most of us can agree that there’s often an uninvited guest at our dinner tables: cellphones. But a New York City chef named Marco Canora of Hearth has thought of a way to keep them from being the focus at meal-time. Canora is not only the owner of Hearth, but he is also a James Beard award-winning chef. We’d give him an award for his phone idea, as well.
These days when you dine at Hearth, you’ll see a box by your place setting for your cellphone. Some are old cigar boxes while others are equally unique. “If there’s one time in the 24 hours in your day that’s a time to engage with the person you’re with, it makes sense to me that it’s around the dinner table,” Canora told Eater. Agreed! Plus, not only can you focus more on those you are with, but focus more on eating your food versus taking pictures of it.
The East Village restaurant is fine dining at its best and uses locally sourced ingredients with an Italian influence, according to its website. Road trip, anyone?
So what was Canora’s inspiration for the cellphone boxes? He’d done some personal research with an app which tracks iPhone and iPad use. He discovered that he used them a lot, then realized how much time others spend on their phones, too, he told Eater.
However, using the cellphone box is not mandatory. “If you want to do it you can do it, if you don’t want to do it, don’t,” Canora told Eater. “We don’t have to tell a story, we don’t have to ask you a question. It’s just a box on the table that’s there if you want it.”
But what about customers Instagramming their food? “We are all willing to sacrifice that,” Canora said to Eater. “I feel that this is remarkable, and they’ll hopefully talk about the box and talk about their food post-meal.”
Personally, I think it’s a great idea. After all, everyone can use a phone detox now and then, right? A few years ago, I was a text-messaging addict and decided to quit texting, and it’s been life-changing; for instance, learning to be more present and unglued to my phone. And whenever I have parties, I have a “Cellphone Valet,” where guests all put their phones into one box, and it’s been amazing.
Overall, Canora believes that his cellphone boxes are working, saying that diners used them “six out of 10 times. I think people are digging it.” We are, too, and applaud him for creating the idea.