The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC, sure doesn't seem to have much difficulty with change. While it might trace a proud history dating back to 1856, the restaurant has moved at least four times, added OpenTable reservations, and embraced social media in the interim. Now, the "oldest saloon in Washington" is touting a technological first: When your waiter hands you the bill, you'll also get a second receipt-sized piece of paper with news that occurred while you were busy eating.
It's called "The Latest News," and it's a service of PrintSignal Corporation, a start-up founded by former NPR president Frank Mankiewicz and States News Service publisher Leland Schwartz. It's also not totally a new idea: 23 years ago, Schwartz introduced "The Latest News" as a newspaper printed every hour and handed out to airline passengers. "The object is to bring the latest news to people who've been in a news blackout all day," he marketed it at the time. Now, he tells The Washington Post that his new start-up is hoping to take advantage of the "virtual news blackout" when diners (hopefully) stop using their mobile devices. The news comes in from the Associated Press every two minutes, and Schwartz edits headlines by hand, though the company says it's looking to build an automated system. The miniature newspapers also come with advertising.
Assuming diners stop using their phone during meals
Printing things on receipt paper that aren't receipts is nothing new, of course, since Catalina Marketing popularized printing coupons on the back of supermarket receipts in the late 1980s. More recent inspiration may have come from BERG's Little Printer, a gadget which lets you print out your own such miniature newspapers each morning.