Many times when I walk into a bar or restaurant with friends, some of them place their phones on the table. The moment it lights up they pick up their phone and hold it just underneath the table texting or emailing. I’m guilty of this too. But how great would it be to just go in and have a conversation only with the people who are at the table?

That’s just what one Vancouver sports bar is doing. Jesse Ritchie, owner of Score on Davie, says the idea was inspired by a game people are playing where they stack their phones on the table and the first person to touch theirs has some form of punishment. He says they just took it to the next level. One of Ritchie’s long-time friends and a server at his bar came up with the idea.

“He noticed it (people always on their phones) and it gets frustrating when everyone is on their phone and not engaging with the staff,” says Ritchie to Kevin Newman Live. Patrons often aren’t even listening to the specials.

“So being a sports bar we put a lock box on the wall beside the tables,” says Ritchie. Customers put their phones in voluntarily, there is no frisking at the door. The customers are given a key and as a table, they decide the punishment. It could range from doing a handstand to buying a round. It’s an opportunity to be creative.

Ritchie says he occasionally sees people going through cellphone rehab and tweeking out. People keep looking at the box and going to reach for it. Eventually, Ritchie says people get used to it. When Ritchie first played he says he panicked and was the first to give in.

This past summer, I had to fly to Newfoundland for work with my previous job. When I landed at Deer Lake Regional Airport near Cornerbrook I naturally turned on my phone. There was no signal so I shut it off and rebooted. Again, no signal. Then I asked the woman at the car rental counter and she explained there is no Rogers signal for most of the island. I freaked out – mostly on the inside I hope. It was the strangest feeling driving along a highway surrounded by only fields and moose warning signs with no connection to the outside world. But then after about seven or eight hours I kind of got over it. I started to feel fortunate that no one could contact me and enjoyed the peace.

There aren’t too many moments like that. But Ritchie has created a bit of his own island.

The boxes are clear so if you position the phone well, you can see the text. Of course the problem is you can’t reply without facing the punishment. I would prefer to just not see the message in the first place.

“We’re doing a service,” says Ritchie. And I thank you for this service. Now all I have to do is go out to Vancouver and hope I’m not the first one to give in.