A restaurant in Canada has provoked outrage for banning customers from using digital devices.
At the start of happy hour every evening, the Lion & Bright cafe and bar in Halifax is implementing a “screen-free” policy, and people are not happy about it.
“Close your screens, meet your neighbours! Lion & Bright is now screen free after 5pm daily,” the sign read in a photo posted to Facebook.
Well this showed up on FB, @LionandBright have aspirational ideas pic.twitter.com/SgCEZCwwK2
— HalifaxReTales (@HalifaxReTales) October 2, 2017 It goes on to clarify that the rule “includes Kindles, tablets, iPads, etc.”
It’s not clear which devices will be subject to the rule, but people have presumed this means smartphones.
Many customers have expressed outrage at the sign, taking to social media to make their voices heard.
“This is the last straw,” regular customer David Fraser wrote on Facebook.
“I go to get some work done in the afternoon, enjoy some really nice local craft beer and have a bite to eat. Even with my laptop, I do manage to chat with people there I know but fewer people I know are going there.
“The service has been really, really poor and this new ‘rule’ (who imposes unwelcome, patronising rules on their customers, btw?) makes it completely inhospitable. Lion & Bright used to be my favourite place in Halifax. Not any more.”
And he wasn’t alone, with many denouncing the rule as “patronising” and “pretentious”.
“It just raises anxiety when a rule like this is made,” commented one person.
“I think you will lose business. People can make their own decisions about using their devices.”
“I am opposed and upset with this,” added another.
The Lion & Bright just crossed a line from hip cafe to parody of a hip cafe. We’re in Portlandia territory here.
— Darryl Wright (@punksteez) October 2, 2017 Rolling in Lion And Bright like pic.
— HalifaxReTales (@HalifaxReTales) October 3, 2017 This really only works in Yuppie fantasy land where your “sweet” blogging career demands you have a Mimosa and relax at the end of the day. pic.twitter.
— Dylan Ames🍂 (@LDTG117) October 2, 2017 Well, I know where I won’t be going. I can manage my own device usage, be a social human being and engage with people on my own terms.
— Simon Leither (@sleither) October 3, 2017 In response to the backlash, the restaurant has released a statement apologising if the rule was considered “patronising and haughty.”
“This was not our intention,” the release said. “Being committed to openness and building a safe space for community to gather, we have taken the constructive feedback and have decided to edit those signs with a clearer message.
It said the rule was “strictly for the benefit of our clientele to enjoy the dynamic space and offerings we’ve created in the community.
“Focusing on creating a restaurant that is a place of sanctuary and leisure after 5pm is integral to our longevity and our guests’ well-being,” the press release continued.
However the restaurant owner Sean Gallagher said that they’ve always had the rule, but just hadn’t made it clear with signs.
“We had no idea it was going to be a bold move, but it’s turning into one on social media, which is interesting and insightful,” he told CTV News .
Gallagher also clarified that the rule doesn’t include phones or kindles, but only devices used for work.
He welcomed people using the cafe for work during the day, but explained that in the evening, people are encouraged to “turn off their work” and socialise.
“If you’re using a screen and you’re tapping away and you’re plugged into headphones, you’re closed off to the world,” Gallagher said.
“We’re saying, at 5pm, now is the time to relax, connect with people, look people in the eye, share a drink, share your hopes for the future, talk about your work day, de-stress, and enjoy yourself.”.