Innovative Italian Restaurant Offers Free Wine in Exchange for Ditching Phones

By | 18 April 2024

Recently, the newly inaugurated Al Condominio restaurant in the northern Italian city of Verona announced that it will provide ‘a bottle of good wine’ to diners who are willing to temporarily hand over their mobile phones. This is in an effort to facilitate the customers to focus on the pleasure of the food and the company.

The restaurant proposes a ‘digital detox’ special offer, promising a complimentary bottle of wine in return for the diner allowing the restaurant staff to lock away their phones in a drawer.

Each participating couple will receive one bottle, but in case of groups, the offer changes to one bottle for every four people, as mentioned on the restaurant’s website.

‘The restaurant scene in Verona is already quite diverse and valuable, therefore we had to offer an alternative,’ explained Al Condominio’s co-founder, Angelo Lella.

‘We then worked on the #DigitalDetox concept to present something new and curious, dedicated to those looking for novel and satisfying experiences on a gastronomic, wine and social level.’

He added, ‘Freeing yourself from technology is a luxury…a luxury because today the true value is time, even more so if spent in the company of a good glass of wine and friends, loved ones or new encounters.’

He told Decanter the concept was proving popular with diners, some of whom had travelled from other parts of Italy to visit.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Al Condominio restaurant.

Al Condominio draws its spirit from the affable essence of ‘olden day condominiums’, replete with friendly neighbors and communal summer dinners, revealed Lella, a veritable entrepreneur based in Verona. Alongside her current venture, she has been the proud co-owner of the Maia Wine label since 2019. She shares this with the Cielo e Terra Spa Group.

For a dash of nostalgia and character, the offerings on Al Condominio’s menu derive their names from the typical personas that one could expect in such a dwelling; names like ‘the gardener’, ‘the ones from the first floor’, and ‘the spy’, narrate the restaurant.

A strict no-phones policy has been a signature of several top-tier restaurants in the past.

The well-known Evening Standard newspaper, back in 2016, however, reported a softening of attitude among revered chefs in London towards this approach. This shift in stance was attributed to the influence of social media, acknowledging that patrons often have the desire to photograph and share their beautiful meals.

A 2018 study published in the journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that diners were more likely to report feeling distracted if they used a phone during a meal with friends and family. This also dampened their enjoyment of the occasion.

‘This research suggests that despite their ability to connect us to others across the globe, phones may undermine the benefits we derive from interacting with those across the table,’ authors said.

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