About 90% of customers at Al Condominio, a charming new Italian restaurant in Verona, are taking advantage of the unique offer.

In an article in The Guardian, owner Angelo Lella shared the reasoning behind the strategy…

“We wanted to open a restaurant that was different from the others… So we picked this format – customers can choose to renounce technology while enjoying a convivial moment together. Technology is becoming a problem – there is no need to look at your phone every five seconds, but for many people it is like a drug … This way they have an opportunity to put it aside and drink some good wine.”

Angelo Lella

This strategy is what David Rendall and I would call a “Pink Goldfish.” This approach champions defying norms and exploiting imperfections to create a unique business strategy. Al Condominio does this through two specific tactics: withholding and microweirding.

Withholding: A Mobile-Free Zone
Al Condominio’s strategy involves withholding—a tactic where businesses take something away that customers would expect to have. In this case, it’s the use of mobile phones during meals. Diners are encouraged to lock away their phones in special boxes in exchange for a free bottle of wine. This act of withholding not only reduces distractions but also enhances the dining experience, promoting richer, face-to-face interactions among diners.

Microweirding: The Lockbox and Key
The restaurant introduces an element of microweirding by adding a quirky twist to the phone-free experience. Diners lock their phones in a box and use the key to claim their bottle of wine. This small, distinctive touch not only stands out as an unusual practice but becomes a conversation starter among guests, creating a memorable experience that diners are likely to talk about long after their meal.

Parallel Strategy: The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club
A similar strategy is employed during The Masters Golf Tournament, where mobile phones are banned from the course during the four competitive rounds. This policy transforms the spectator experience. As noted by golf podcaster Rick Shiels, without phones, something magical happens: people actually start talking to one another. This environment fosters a sense of presence and community among the patrons, enhancing the overall experience of the event.

Note: No free wine at The Masters. But you can grab an Egg Salad Sandwich or the famous Pimento Cheese Sandwich for just $1.50 a piece. Here are the concession prices for the 2024 Masters courtesy of USA Today:

  • Egg Salad: $1.50
  • Pimento Cheese: $1.50
  • Masters Club: $3
  • Chicken salad on Honey wheat: $3
  • Ham/cheese on rye: $3
  • Classic Chicken: $3
  • Domestic Beer: $6 (Up $1 compared to last year)
  • Import Beer: $6
  • Crow’s Nest: $6
  • Peach Ice Cream Sandwich: $3

These prices are intentionally LOW. Former Augusta National chairman Clifford Roberts wrote in his 1976 book, “The Story of Augusta National Golf Club”:

“We believe that one of the reasons the Masters is popular with patrons of the game is because they can obtain good food and drink at reasonable prices.”

Both Al Condominio and The Masters demonstrate the power of Pink Goldfish strategies: embracing what’s unique, even if it means breaking away from the norm, can create unforgettable experiences and draw people closer together.