Restaurant in Italy offers free bottles of wine to customers who hand in phones

<span>The initiative aims to encourage diners to ‘enjoy a convivial moment together’, as well as ‘put phones aside and drink some good wine’.</span><span>Photograph: Al Condominio</span>
The initiative aims to encourage diners to ‘enjoy a convivial moment together’, as well as ‘put phones aside and drink some good wine’.Photograph: Al Condominio

An Italian restaurant is offering a free bottle of wine to customers who relinquish their mobile phones during meals.

Angelo Lella, the owner of Al Condominio, a restaurant that opened in the northern city of Verona in March, said the aim was to encourage diners chat to each other instead of constantly glancing at their phones.

“We wanted to open a restaurant that was different from the others,” he said. “So we picked this format – customers can choose to renounce technology while enjoying a convivial moment together. Technology is becoming a problem – there is no need to look at your phone every five seconds, but for many people it is like a drug … This way they have an opportunity to put it aside and drink some good wine.”

People will be given the choice to set aside their phone, which will be placed in their own box, under lock and key, at the entrance. They then show the key to the waiter, who serves them their bottle of wine.

Customers can also write a review of their meal, which they leave in the box. Those who leave the most glowing review will be offered a meal on their next visit.

Needless to say, with the promise of free wine, the restaurant has done a roaring trade among those willing to partake in the mobile phone detox.

“The response has been very positive,” said Lella. “Ninety per cent of customers have opted to leave aside their phones in exchange for wine. It really is a beautiful thing to see people embracing it – they are talking to each other rather than looking at photos or responding to messages on their phone.”

Al Condominio is believed to be the first restaurant in the Veneto region to adopt such an initiative although there are examples of others in Italy, including Separè 1968, a restaurant in Marina di Cecina, Tuscany, which offers vouchers to customers who give up their phones.

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