Restaurateur Jawdat Ibrahim has spent decades promoting coexistence among the Jewish and Arab populations of Israel, and now he’s focusing on the relationships of his customers and their food by offering a 50% discount to anybody who shuts off their phone in his restaurant.
“I’m changing something. It might be something small, but maybe in some small way I’ll be changing the culture of eating,” Ibrahim told the Associated Press recently.
Ibrahim is the owner of Abu Ghosh, a well-known restaurant named after its hometown, located about six miles outside of Jerusalem. He said at first he tried to collect cell phones at the front door after witnessing groups of friends or married couples sitting in silence, staring at their screens each day. When he realized this wouldn’t be practical, he decided to introduce the discount.
“Technology is very good. But just when you eat, just especially when you are with your family and your friends, you can just wait for half an hour and enjoy the food and enjoy the company,” he said. “A lot of people, they sit down and they don’t enjoy their food, their company.”
Ibrahim is in a unique position to offer the steep discount. While living in the U.S. in the 1980s, he won some $23 million in an Illinois state lottery, writes The Associated Press.
The discount may not be such a bad business plan either. “I have a lot of new customers,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said virtually every customer who has entered the restaurant since he began the promotion this week has taken advantage of the offer.
“People come from Jerusalem. People come from Tel Aviv, and they all have one thing in common: This telephone is not good for me when I am eating,” he said.