business news in context, analysis with attitude

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is projecting that restaurant industry sales will reach $511 billion next year, a better than five percent increase over 2005’s figures. But in a press release circulated yesterday, the following paragraphs caught our eye:

“With growing demand from plugged-in Americans accustomed to operating in a 24/7 society for amenities such as televisions and wireless Internet access, look for restaurants to bring more of these features to the table. Twenty-seven percent of adults surveyed by the National Restaurant Association said they’d likely use wireless Internet access if their favorite table service restaurant offered it. The percentage rose to 52 percent for adults aged 18 to 24.

“Table-top televisions spark interest as well. One in four adults surveyed said they would watch a small television at their table if their favorite full service restaurant offered it.”
KC's View:
While we understand that wireless Internet access in restaurants can be annoying to some people who actually show up without their laptops, we have to admit that this is an enormous benefit for people like us.

But table-top televisions? Give us a break.

One of the worst things ever to happen to the American culinary experience and the family structure was the trend that had people eating dinner in front of the television set. The idea that the culture would want to replicate that experience in a restaurant seems, to be honest, appalling.

By the way, if you want to see a terrific and largely unseen film that addresses this trend, go rent Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” (1990), which is about an immigrant family coming to America at the beginning of the 20th century. Early in the film, dinnertime is shown as a time when the family gets together and shares thoughts and feelings; by the end of the film, everybody just sits in their chairs in front of the television, eating and watching in their own little worlds.