Second Helpings

Cell-ibate: Attention, restaurant owners! It's time to take a stand. Right next to the "No Smoking" sign, please put up a big picture of a cell phone surrounded by a circle, with a red slash running through it.

I find it astonishing that diners who wouldn't otherwise dream of, say, putting a finger in their nose, combing their hair, playing with their food or banging cutlery at a restaurant table, think nothing at all about jabbering away on a cell phone from the same location.

What's the problem? If you have to ask that question, you're the problem. Here's why:

I don't want to hear you discussing your children's bedtime with the baby sitter. I'm not interested in Microsoft's P/E ratio, the Diamondbacks' score or how you're enjoying dinner so far. I don't care about your inept boss, your bad back or golf handicap. I don't even want to hear your damn phone ring.

Going to a restaurant is not the same as going to a gas station. People don't eat out simply to refuel. A restaurant isn't an office, either. It's a social space, and eating there is a social activity. It's also a public space, where strangers are thrown together for a couple of hours at a time. That's why we all need to behave.

Talking on a cell phone at a restaurant table is misbehaving, a form of exhibitionism.

Take a call, or whip out your cell phone to make one, and the message comes in loud and clear -- LOOK AT ME, I'M IMPORTANT. But as far as I'm concerned, you're also announcing, as clearly as if you were standing on your chair and addressing everyone in the room with a megaphone: I HAVE NO MANNERS. I'M DISRESPECTFUL. I'M UNCIVILIZED. I DON'T CARE THAT I'M ANNOYING YOU. AND IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TOO BAD.

If you've got a call that can't wait, please make it outside. The only time I want to see someone using a cell phone at a restaurant is to dial 911. Pull out a cell phone while dining at my table, and you're going to need 911.

Space to Let: A few years ago, the Scottsdale Promenade, an upscale shopping center on Shea Boulevard just west of Scottsdale Road, was one of the Valley's high-powered restaurant locations. Not anymore.

Chez Georges folded several years ago, and the storefront has remained vacant. Last winter, Cafe Patou went under. That space is also unused. And though it recently reopened, the second branch of Such Is Life was briefly padlocked.

Only Maria's When in Naples and Sushi on Shea seem to be operating at full throttle. And nobody seems to be rushing to occupy all the empty square feet. Non-chain restaurants are skipping over this part of town, preferring to move farther north to Kierland or beyond to Frank Lloyd Wright and Pinnacle Peak.

But the neighborhood is still primo restaurant territory. A seafood restaurant would fit in here nicely. So might an ethnic place, especially Indian or Thai.

Suggestions? Write me at or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.


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