In our world of instant gratification, the age-old question remains: Do TVs belong at the bar? Screens in sports bars are a given, but what about top-end spots like Matsuhisa (which did not respond to requests for an interview), where the television is visible from most of the dining room? Doesn’t the glare of a flatscreen eat into an experience, especially one as beautifully crafted as sushi?
“It’s a revenue-driven decision rather than a vibe decision,” says TV-averse Josh Wolkon, owner of Ace Eat Serve and Steuben’s. “Honestly, I debated about it at Steuben’s Arvada, because there’s no doubt that [not having TVs] hurts us. But I’m just accepting that I’ll lose some revenue in some places.”
Paul Reilly, co-owner of Coperta and the newly opened Apple Blossom in the Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver, is grappling with the hotel policy that mandates TVs in the bar. “It’s part of our brand not to have TVs…but they said it’s a must for the solo traveler to watch sports or news,” he says. “I wish the solo traveler could just rely on the bartender for company.”
Josh Wolkon is doing his best to lure guests back from the glare of their phones or iPads with an old-school tactic: He recently ordered custom-branded Steuben’s playing cards. “We’ll sell them retail, but we want the staff to drop them off when they see a family struggling with screens. It hurts me to see people so addicted to their phones.”
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