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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A growing cohort of restaurants around the world are offering a respite for tech-addicted diners: a digital detox at the table.

What's happening: Cafes and fine dining establishments alike are taking away phones to encourage customers to unplug, enjoy the meal and actually talk to one another, as if it were the 1990s or something.

  • These spaces become even more popular in the post-pandemic world as people emerge from months of digital overload.

Details: The James NoMad hotel in Manhattan experimented with a Digital Detox package that gave guests 10% off the room rate for every night they went without phones, MarketWatch reports. Guests gave their phones to the front desk when they checked in and were assigned device-free rooms without TVs or alarm clocks.

  • Hearth, in Manhattan's East Village, puts boxes on the tables for guests to stash their phones during the meal.
  • The French House in London has a hard ban on phones and will kick patrons out for using devices, per the London Evening Standard.

Some establishments are trying lighter versions of the detox: Fergie's Pub, a Philadelphia bar, has done away with TVs. And several coffee shops aren't stripping customers of their phones but are no longer offering WiFi in an effort to discourage device use.

The other side: As we've reported, many cafes and restaurants are leaning into the rise of telework by setting themselves up as a third workplace — away from the office and from home — offering WiFi, outlets and free coffee to patrons.

Worth noting: Everything old is new again. In 1999, the New York Times ran an article about excessive cell phone use driving restaurants to ask phone users to step outside to gab.

  • This, of course, was when people actually used cell phones to talk.

Go deeper

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.

16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Dems seek new green deal

Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Democrats discussed with President Biden on Wednesday a plan to exempt billions of dollars of new climate spending from his requirement that his $3.5 trillion "soft" infrastructure plan be offset with additional revenue.

Why it matters: The accounting proposal — a version of "dynamic scoring" — would dramatically lower the amount of taxes Democrats would need to raise while creating wiggle room to increase the ultimate size of the package.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.

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