Remember a time when you could go to a bar alone and disappear or disconnect for a while? When you could just forge brief but meaningful with strangers without using a QWERTY keyboard? It was a simpler time. Luckily, there are hospitality professionals out there making a point of reminding us of what the point of a bar is in the first place.
Take Steve Tyler, owner of the Gin Tub in Brighton, for example. After more than a decade in the bar industry, Tyler has put his foot down and made aimless texting and browsing a physical impossibility in his establishment.
By using a 19th-century enclosure system called a Faraday cage, Tyler has basically turned his bar into a huge elevator that blocks out mobile phone reception. But instead of going up and down, Tyler's bar basically goes back in time.
"Everyone talks to everyone in my bar. It's like back to the old days of the British pub," Tyler told MUNCHIES. "We do shared tables here. So, if you're two people coming in, we'll put you with another two. When your wife or partner goes to the toilet, you can't insulate yourself from conversation by going on your phone; you have to talk to them."
And just to be clear, the Gin Tub is not jamming any phone signal; a practice which is very different from physically preventing reception."Blocking is illegal. We're stopping mobile phones. What we did is we built a Faraday cage into our property. So, we're not really blocking the signal, it just can't get inside."
Tyler's reasoning is as refreshing as it is old-school. "A lot of people go to bars and don't even talk to their friends, let alone new people. I wanted people to interact with each other and not with people who aren't in the room with them. For me, it's killing the social side of going out. They're socialising with people that they're not with, which they could do at home anyways. But we're not going to let you."
By putting his foot down, the Gin Tub owner says he's curbing a technological trend that has gotten out of hand in the modern age. "It's gotten worse and worse. It's almost an epidemic. It's an addiction and people feel like they need to post on Facebook, they need to post on Twitter. Sometimes they ask me, 'How can we tag ourselves?' And I say, 'Walk out the door and walk back in again!'"
And Steve Tyler might be onto something. He's been flooded with calls from British, Indian, American, and Canadian media. And it's definitely catching on with clients. "Customers have been massively receptive. They absolutely love it. I haven't gotten one single complaint. Actually, the only complaint I got was that somebody got a signal. I mean, we can't stop everything!"