Italy: Free wine in restaurant if you give up phones

Al Condominio, a unique Italian restaurant located in the northern city of Verona, is enticing diners with an innovative offer: a free bottle of wine for those willing to part with their mobile phones during their meal. Opened in March by Angelo Lella, the restaurant has introduced this initiative with the intention of fostering more face-to-face interactions among its patrons. Lella explains that the primary goal is to create a dining experience distinct from any other by encouraging guests to disconnect from digital distractions and engage in meaningful conversations.

“The concept was to create a space where technology takes a backseat to human connection,” Lella stated. “We’ve noticed that for many, checking their phone has become an addictive habit that detracts from the quality of real-life interactions. Offering a moment to unplug with a complimentary bottle of wine seemed like a perfect solution.”

Upon arrival, guests at Al Condominio are given the option to secure their phones in individual lockable boxes at the entrance. They retain the key, which they later present to their server to claim their bottle of wine. This process not only ensures the security of the devices but also serves as a physical reminder of their commitment to set technology aside for the duration of their meal.

Additionally, diners are encouraged to reflect on their experience by writing a review, which they can leave in the box. The restaurant rewards the most glowing reviews with a free meal during the customer’s next visit, further enhancing engagement and satisfaction.

The response to this initiative has been overwhelmingly positive, with Lella noting that about 90% of customers choose to participate. “It’s truly heartwarming to see our guests engaging with one another, enjoying their meals and conversations without the constant interruption of phone notifications,” he remarked.

This pioneering approach has not only differentiated Al Condominio in the competitive restaurant market of Verona but also contributed to its bustling activity, particularly among patrons eager for a break from their digital lives. Although Al Condominio is the first in the Veneto region to implement such a policy, it joins a growing list of establishments across Italy, like Separè 1968 in Marina di Cecina, Tuscany, that are experimenting with similar incentives to enhance the dining experience by minimizing digital distractions.

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