SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Could a nationwide restaurant chain be getting ready to take a stand on using electronic devices in public? Applebee’s has applied to trademark the phrase “No Tech Tuesday”.

While a spokesman for the company says that there is no connection between the phrase and operations at Applebee’s, industry analysts are asking why the company is making the effort and if device-free dining might be a burgeoning trend. Applebee’s maintains that, like many brands, they file many phrases for protection.

Fred Phillips, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Restquip, a retail and restaurant consulting firm, says part of the point is to at least get people talking about the company and so far, that’s worked.

“We are in a society where we are bombarded every minute of the day with marketing messages on our phones on billboards. Everyone’s trying to find a way to stand out among all that. Restaurants are good at this,” Phillips said.

He recalls that a few years ago Burger King came out with a program called the “Subservient Chicken”. You could go on their website, move the chicken around and make it do “nasty things”, he said.

It was a success and got the iconic-burger joint plenty of advertising. It’s not a restaurant, but Amazon did the same thing with the controversy they drummed up with the announcement of delivery via drones.

There is however, a deeper issue here. The whole question of where the boundaries are when it comes to using smartphones, tablets and cameras in public especially during dinner is brought up.

KCBS morning anchor Stan Bunger says everyone has a horror story of that person who stood on a chair in a nice restaurant to get the perfect angle for their Instagram shot.

“It’s a dangerous thing if you start going down the road to say, ‘Okay, we’re not going to want tech in a restaurant’. Starbucks was one of the original chains that said come in, have a coffee and use your computer and they’ve never really gotten away from that,” said Phillips.

In a restaurant, Phillips says you might not really want to be bothered by encroaching technology, but at the same time it’s becoming a growing part of our reality.


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