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Are There Too Many Televisions in Restaurants?

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Pedro's Cantina.
Pedro's Cantina.
Photo: Cody Gantz / ESF

Yesterday Eater SF had a preview of Pedro's Cantina, a sports bar with 22 high definition televisions — that's over a literal ton of TVs — and we got to thinking about the boob tube's role in restaurants. Pedro's Cantina is a sports bar, so it makes sense for them to have quite a few sets to accommodate viewing, but more and more, we've been seeing flat screens pop up in less traditional settings.

There are a few different ways to consider the TV dilemma, of course, and the first question is: why are restaurants doing this? According to The Dallas Morning News, this trend is brought to you courtesy of "the wired generation," i.e. young people: "This is a very, very visual demographic...If they're not watching TV, [they] are on their iPhones." The goal, then, is to keep your eyes up and moving around the restaurant. Despite the terribly flattering picture this paints of today's youth, it does make some sense from the point of view of the restaurateur.

But what about the patron's perspective? Unless you're purposefully going to a restaurant to watch something — and again, sports bars seem to be an exception here —a TV can be noisy and intrusive. Thus, a TV in a bar area where patrons are waiting for a table might be different than a TV in the dining room where it would distract customers from their meals and their company. Similarly, casual restaurants might get more lenience than fine dining establishments.

There is also the question of number: how many is too many? We've been to chain restaurants that have individual televisions for each table. Size: How big is too big? What if the big screen is only on during games, or is a projection with a roll-up screen that gets put away? Another difference could be content: is an Indian restaurant that shows Bollywood music videos different than a neighborhood grill that shows sports or news? What if the restaurant is showing a looped marketing DVD of their own creation?

So, tolerance for televisions, or should they be banned entirely? Let us know what you think.

· Pedro's Cantina: Ballpark Tacos and a Literal Ton of TVs [-ESF-]
· Table Talk: TVs All Over [Dallas Morning News]
· All Debates on Eater [-E-]