In the January issue, Editor Mike Sanson posed the question: Do You Really Need a Boob Tube? He lamented the fact that too many high-end restaurants install TVs in their bars to generate interest as opposed to requiring bartenders to become hosts of their environment. Here is what readers had to say.
I often wonder, too, why every bar/restaurant must have TVs on. If I want TV and a drink, I can do that at home. My wonderful little European/California restaurant and wine bar has no TV and usually the conversations in my place are loud and full of laughter. It makes me smile to know that people are having that much fun at my place and there is no TV in sight.
Wine Cellar Restaurant & Wine Bar
Rapid City, SD
I have owned a sophisticated place for 15 years — the first 10 with no TV — then the Red Sox changed all that when they won it all. I think you're right; it's just a security blanket for this generation of diners. But when I saw my competition putting in TVs, I did as well. I am an old-school bartender and long for the days when we could pass hours chatting up the guests.
Frank A. Santo, Jr.
Isabella in Dedham, MA
The Local in W. Newton, MA
Our restaurant is fine dining food in a casual atmosphere, and our bar only has nine seats. Originally, we scheduled a bartender, but found that I could just as easily tend bar and manage the restaurant during the week and have a helper on the weekend. I had been a bartender for years before opening this restaurant with my brother, so the art of keeping them coming back and acquiring regulars is no secret to me. Our TV is small. You can see what you need to see, but it's not a focal point. We put on sports, news, or whatever is requested. (A Wednesday night favorite is Myth Busters.) My only exception is that I refuse to put on American Idol. Believe it or not, there are more negative conversations surrounding that show than any other. But, I totally agree that once the customers get engaged in either a conversation with me or with each other, the TV is just another piece of “art” on the wall.
As a side note, having an establishment in upstate South Carolina without a TV for Clemson and Carolina fans during football season is a death wish. Not that we get the game crowd, but there's always the husband that gets dragged to dinner on game night and has to get up to use the bathroom and check the score.
If I am in a restaurant or bar with a TV, I am drawn into it, no matter how interested I am in my companion(s), or how disinterested I am in what is being shown on TV. My husband and I own a 70-seat restaurant with a 10-seat bar. It's in an antique house, with one large, one medium and two small dining rooms. We have no television, and will continue to have no television. Occasionally, we'll have someone express an interest in having one at the bar. But much more frequently, we get thanked for not having one!
There does need to be a place to go with your spouse, where the atmosphere is conducive to enjoying each other's company. There also needs to be some place where the bar acts as another dining room — not a loud distraction to guests dining at tables.
Our bar guests almost never use language that concerns me, and typically they don't get too loud. I believe this has almost everything to do with not having a TV.
Owner, Sprigs Restaurant