In the middle of my recent dinner at Eden Hill, two young IT guys dressed in jeans got seated next to me. This is an intimate restaurant, with seating tight unless you get one of the two window tables, so you’re essentially elbow-to-elbow with your neighbors.
It wasn’t really eavesdropping to hear them say, “Sure, let’s do the wine pairings, too. It’s only 30 bucks more.”
And it wasn’t really pleasant to hear the incessant beeping of their phones as they received emails and text messages. They stared at their devices more than at each other.
These guys might as well have been eating TV dinners at home.
Such is the Seattle dining scene these days. This city is experiencing an increasing gap between rich and poor, with the middle class disappearing. The wealthy can drop $100 or more per person for a meal without worry. So many are basically just keeping company with their phones, and then using them to shoot photos to show the world what they’re eating.
For me, a meal at a place like Eden Hill is a special occasion, saved for a birthday or anniversary celebration. (Yes, I’ll be obnoxiously taking photos, too, but that’s my job—albeit a laughingly low-paying one.) As the Canlis brothers frequently say, some people save up their money all year, or even their whole lives, for such a special occasion meal.
On this particular occasion, Eden Hill hosted my meal, for which I’m grateful. Had I been paying, I would have found the neighboring table’s behavior even more disappointing. Dare I suggest that I find the affluence effect on the dining scene to be a bit disconcerting? (Not to mention the impact of the growing income gap on our society as a whole.)