December 16, 2013

Is a Cell phone Good for the Kosher Business?

Using a cell phone in a kosher restaurant or in kosher supermarket is certainly something I have not given much thought to. Like most people, carrying a cell phone is so much a part of life that I would not even pause to think if it was appropriate. It wasn’t as if I was in a House of Worship or at a concert. But then a store manager said to me the other day: “If only I could get these people to put away their cell phones and pay attention to the store, I would most certainly increase sales.”  Funny, I had thought that with social media and texting, the cell phone might actually be a way to increase sales. “No,” said my manager friend: “If people are not focused, they pass up many items and in the end I lose.”

OK then, what could be wrong with keeping the cell phone open in a kosher restaurant? Here I consulted none other than Jawdat Ibrahim, who is an owner of an Arab restaurant (not kosher) in Abu Gosh, about six miles out of Jerusalem. Ibrahim has gone to great lengths to get people to focus on his foods, so much so that he is offering a 50% (yes 50%) discount if people turn off their cell phones. He says that the phones have destroyed the modern dining experience. Wait, there is an American connection here! Ibrahim opened the restaurant in 1993 with winnings from an Illinois lottery. He said he became dismayed as he saw groups of friends or married couples sitting in silence, staring at their screens and ultimately asking him to reheat their food. So I consulted with a few kosher restaurant owners and while they weren’t ready to give up 50% of their checks just yet, they could not agree more with Ibrahim. 

So there you have it, when it comes to kosher eateries or retailers, please shut off your cell phone, especially if you are reading this in a restaurant on your Smartphone!

Photo by Laura Lee Dobson