The Washington Post

Old Ebbitt to hand out Associated Press stories on customer receipts

Do you have time for some coffee? Perhaps a glance at the dessert menu?

Or maybe you’d like some of the headlines you missed during your meal.

The Old Ebbitt Grill, often named one of the highest grossing restaurants in the country, is looking to capi­tal­ize on its thousands of visitors through a partnership with another venerable institution, the Associated Press.

The restaurant and news service announced today that the Old Ebbitt has begun giving customers “news receipts”with their checks that list Associated Press stories alongside advertisements.

The stories are updated every two minutes to wait staff computers through software developed by Columbia-based Micros and are tailored to Washington readers.

For instance, if Robert Griffin III’s knee surgery was completed while you were wolfing down a turkey burger with fries, by the end of the meal you could get the news via receipt. Should the program, called “The Latest News,” expand elsewhere, the headlines could be tailored to other markets.

(Courtesy Associated Press)

"We’ve got thousands of news-hungry Washingtonians coming to lunch, so we’re giving The Latest News a shot," explained David Moran, the Ebbitt’s managing director, in a statement released Wednesday.

But why, one might ask, is this a useful service given the ubiquity of smart phones? Will anyone really learn anything from the paper AP receipts that isn’t available from their Twitter feed, Facebook page or email?

According to the press release, the news receipts have several advantages over smartphones, namely that they provide access to the news “without people becoming absorbed in their devices as at the same time contributing to table conversation and interaction.” So, more mannerly perhaps.

It’s an old-school idea — news from paper rather than pixels — coming from two old-school operations (AP was founded in 1846 and the Ebbitt in 1856). Perhaps its not surprising that the concept’s first advertiser is a paper company, Montreal-based Domtar.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.



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