U.K. Pub Chain Bans Mobile Phone Use in Bid to Encourage Talking

(Bloomberg) -- Put down your phone, take a sip of your beer, and talk to your friends.

That’s the message from Samuel Smith Old Brewery, a U.K. pub-chain that wants its customers to behave in a manner that’s in keeping with tradition of the historic taverns it operates.

The 261-year-old firm has instructed its employees at 200 venues to ban mobile phone use by customers, according to a March 25 memo sent to managers published by the Manchester Evening News newspaper.

“If a customer receives a call, then he or she should go outside to take it in the same way as is required with smoking,” the note from owner Humphrey Smith reads. Punters hoping to catch up on some work will also have to go elsewhere, as laptops and tablets are subject to the purge.

“Our pubs are for social conversation person to person,” Smith said. It’s not the first time the company has tried to influence customer behavior. In 2017, it introduced a swearing ban, according to the BBC.

Several pubs contacted by the Independent newspaper confirmed the memo had been received, and the ban was going into effect. Two managers in London reached by Bloomberg News said they weren’t aware of a new policy.

Samuel Smith operates some of London’s quintessentially English public houses, including Fleet Street’s Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a favorite among both locals and tourists that counts Victorian novelist Charles Dickens among its famous regulars of the past.

Calls to Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire, northern England-based brewery weren’t answered on Saturday. Its website suggests using “good old-fashioned post” as an alternative means of contact.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.