TVs or No TVs?

Andolini's Pizzeria
Launched in 2005, Andolini's in Tulsa, Oklahoma, features a mix of New York and California-style cooking, using upscale ingredients and homemade mozzarella. The restaurant and some dishes were named for characters in ‘The Godfather,’ says World Pizza Championship competitor Mike Bausch, who co-owns the two-unit business. Pizzas cost from $13 to $27, and the classic ambiance includes tin-stamped ceilings.
Marlowe's has been a popular Denver gathering place since opening in 1982. Housed in the historic Kittredge Building, built 120 years ago, the seafood and chop house is part of Premier Ventures Inc., whose five units range from taverns to fine dining. Marlowe's features entrées priced from $15 to $34 and has eight televisions located throughout the bar and restaurant, including the mezzanine, according to John Ott, one of the partners.
What led to your choice?
Part of it has been the way I grew up, in New Jersey, New York, California. The restaurants had space limitations, and you talked to the person next to you. I have no moral opposition to TVs, but if you are going to go out, then go out. Going out to a restaurant should be an experience, and just ending up watching ‘Jersey Shore’ on the boob tube is a waste. If you want that, just have a Coors, cook a frozen pizza and watch at home.
When I first started in 1998, there was one TV here, probably a 16-incher behind the bar. Now we have a couple of 52-inch big screens and several other sizes. Many of our guests want to know what is going on. At lunch, it’s CNN and the news, the stock market, and, of course, sports. In the evening, it's mostly sports. We have a strong local interest in Denver sports, and we get a pretty strong interest from tourists in watching ESPN.
What has been the result?

It's been all positive. I see people talking to each other, friends coming in and talking, parents talking to their kids. Some of these parents and their kids are so busy during the day they don't have time to interact. You even have strangers interacting. A restaurant can be one of the last vestiges of conversation. Television inevitably limits that. You end up with automatons watching TV.

I think having TVs helps us compete, not just with sports bars but also with all kinds of restaurants. The televisions here aren't in your face, but they are in spots where they can be seen. And for people who don't want to have to look up and have their gaze move to the TV, there are places where they can't be seen. We do a pretty good business from tourists who drop by from the hotels around the convention center three blocks away.

Have you thought of changing your policy?

No, and I don't think that would surprise anyone. I'll admit, some of it is cheapness. Why should I get Dish TV or something else that wants to charge me more? I don't need it. I have a line out the door, and people truly enjoy themselves here. Every other place seems to have TV, so we're different. No one has ever told me they wished we had TV, except during the Super Bowl. Here, you come to eat with friends and family.

No, not at all. We've not thought of changing the number of TVs either. I think we have all we need. We will upgrade them when we need to, but we bought commercial grade TVs, so they are built stronger and sturdier. The cost of the cable and all the (premium TV) packages to watch multiple sports events continues to be worth the price. We definitely have had a great return on the investment.