No time for phone calls

Has anyone seen this article in the NY Times?

Restaurants Ditch Phone Lines

The comments are mostly variations on “You don’t have a phone? You don’t have my business.”

I have to say, I completely agree. I’m not on FaceBook, InstaGram or Twitter, and I sure would not have a restaurant app that linked to my bank account.

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“You require a subscription? You don’t have my readership.”

Can’t read it. Fancy quoting the article?


I had to leave an Internet Dating site because it required having a cellphone with text messaging.

The opening graphs

Harley Esposito, 30, was surprised when she couldn’t find a phone number for Hotel Greene, a mini-golf, bar and restaurant space near her home in Richmond, Va. After going to Hotel Greene for a work event, she needed a copy of her receipt. Looking through Hotel Greene’s website, she saw a small note: “We do not have a phone line.”

“I Googled them and didn’t see a phone number listed, and I was like: Oh, that’s weird , ” she said. “I was just surprised by it more than anything, because I’ve never seen it before. I was like: How do they expect people to get in touch with them?”

Like Hotel Greene, restaurants around the country are pulling the plug on their phone lines. Channeling all communication through emails, direct messages on social media and reservations apps might frustrate diners and deter those who are technology averse, but restaurants are finding that communicating this way frees up time for front-of-house employees, is more efficient for restaurant administrators and gives flexibility to restaurants operating with a small team or through Covid-related staffing shortages.

In their first month of business in the summer of 2019, Hotel Greene would get a stream of calls to the front desk asking about the wait for a table. Mr. Gottier said that a host offering people wait times in advance can be fruitless since the waits can change quickly in real time.

“It was just this constant barrage,” said Jim Gottier, 67, the co-owner of Hotel Greene, adding, “to pay someone $15 an hour, or whatever, to do that is just outrageous.”

Further down
For some restaurants, the decision to forgo the phone is an easy one. The co-owners of the vegan Singaporean restaurant Lion Dance Cafe in Oakland, Calif., have never liked talking on the phone. After hosting pop-ups around the Bay Area for about a decade, C-Y Chia, 32, and Shane Stanbridge, 32, opened Lion Dance Cafe in September 2020, and for months they were the only employees.
“Since we were running around shopping and making all the food, it felt like also having to deal with picking up the phone would just be too much of a hindrance,” Mx. Chia said. “It wasn’t even a big decision for us. It was just an obvious call.”

It’s a long article, with comments from a number of restaurants, some who love this idea, some who don’t.

Basically, its about “freeing up the staff”. Some people are saying that phone calls are an waste of employees time when they could be doing actual work…
If you want to make a reservation or even find out the wait time, you have to get on FB or Instagram or just e-mail them.
Personally I find it snobby and unrealistic. Phone calls are real-time. E-mail etc has its place but compared to an actual conversation, its slow. You have to write out your request and send it and then wait for somebody to respond.
If English isn’t your first language, or you have dyslexia, or similar, this could be a real problem. Not to mention technology glitches where either party’s message may not go through… Not great, people.


“Communicating this way frees up time for front-of-house employees” and they’re complaining about having to pay someone to field phone calls.

Personally, I can’t really see it. Someone has to answer the e-mails and I can’t really see that that’s going to be any quicker than answering the phone.


My Mom for some reason prefers to call in my prescription after the drugstore closes. We needed to renew one of my meds and we tried on both Sunday and on Monday and all we got was something which sounded like a fax machine. On Tuesday when we tried during the day we got the “after hours” information we normally get to not have to talk to a pharmacist to renew prescription. When I asked on Thursday when i picked up my med, I asked why the phone had been done on Sunday and Monday night and the woman at the desk said “they’re fixing the phone line”

Commenters also talked about problems for people who are dyslexic, had questions regarding allergies and other physical problems that would be both difficult and time consuming to have to put in writing, whether in e-mail, text, tweet or other communication.

Seems their choice is to inconvenience the customer, rather than themselves or their employees.


A lot of people who will call, just decide not to message. Bonus.
When getting calls, you have to drop everything, which make your tasks take even longer, while with messages, you can dedicate a certain amount of time, thus lose no time on other tasks (I hope it’s clear what I mean). So for the restaurant this does give some benefits.

Personally I’d say that this is part of business. If I want to make a reservation, especially not long before the desired time, I want to know right away if there is place, not send a message and wait an unknown amount of time.
If I accidentally lost my phone, I want to call them (on a friends phone) and immediately know if they’ve found it.
So many reasons why having a phone is important. And honestly, I can’t imagine businesses not having a phone at all, at least for their suppliers for example.


I believe that “public facing telephone” would be more accurate. As someone who supplies pubs, restaurants and the like, not having a phone number would be unthinkable. Don’t give it to the great unwashed sure but we need to be able to get in touch with you if there’s a problem. Such as “Our delivery driver is outside. Open your damn door!”


so…what happens if I have a question about well…anything? should I email them about whether they are open today and for how long and hope they get back to me via email immediately? there are some things email is not good for, and quick questions are one of them.

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I guess so.

If you drive past and see it’s on fire, do you send the e-mail before or after you call 911?

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Let’s hope 911 keeps their phones. Kinda weird:

10:22 sent to

10:26 received from
Hello, do you need fire, ambulance or police?

10:27 sent to
I don’t know, someone had an accident, I hope they are still alive.

10:31 received from
Where did this happen, and can you see this person?

10:32 sent to
At X and Y. I can’t see, cause I don’t have email on my not so smart mobile phone. I drove home to email you guys.


:rofl: I’m sure that’s on their agenda.


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