The first course lands on the table, and instead of grabbing their forks and knives, everyone in the dining party takes out a smartphone.
Click, flash, ding.
Not a word is spoken as the group concentrates on capturing images of their food at just the right angle to send out to Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Then the first bites are taken and the laughter and conversation resume.
It used to be rude to bring out a phone at the table, but those days are gone. Smartphones have become as much a part of a place setting as forks, knives and spoons.
For some it's an amusing hobby, but for others to whom social media is second nature, it's an obsession or even a profession.
Toby Tamaye of AT Marketing makes sure he's got a fully charged phone before heading out to major food events.
"I have to Instagram all my food," said Tamaye, who uses the photo app to post pictures to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously.
"For me it's just part of what I do," he said. "It's about sharing the experience."
Fern Palabay, who works for Queen's Health Systems, started posting food photos online when she got her first smartphone -- a BlackBerry Pearl -- in 2008. Since most of her meals are with her fiance, who works in social media, she says having Twitter and Facebook at the table isn't all that different from how couples of previous generations would share the newspaper over breakfast.
There is no formal handbook on proper smartphone etiquette at the dinner table, but devotees of social media have developed their own codes of conduct.
Lindsey Muraoka, whose Food La La blog appears on honolulupulse.com, says it all depends on the situation. If she goes to a dinner intending to blog about it, she brings a smartphone and a camera and documents every course. She also makes sure to go with friends who understand this and don't mind waiting before digging in.
"If I am with nonsocial-media people, then I will not take any pictures unless we are eating something really interesting that I've never tried before," Muraoka said. "Then I will ask if I can take a quick picture first. People are usually OK with that."
Librarian Suzanne Uratani says she takes food photos at restaurants only if the dish is exceptional, and she waits until later to post them to Twitter. She said she's been annoyed in situations when food was served family style and she had to wait for the others to take photos before eating.
"I'm much too busy enjoying my food to let it go cold!" she said.
Tamaye says that when he's out with a group of "Twitterati," the general rule is not to eat or touch any of the food until everyone's done taking photos and uploading them.
"Then you can eat it," he said.
It takes only a minute or two to snap and post pictures. While Tamaye uses Instagram during meals, he still considers talking on the phone at the table to be rude.
The marketing pro says people who use social media at restaurants are providing valuable -- and free -- promotional services to the businesses.
"People are taking photos and sharing it with thousands of friends via the Internet on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter," he said.
Many chefs and restaurant owners in Honolulu have embraced social media as part of the contemporary dining experience and as an influential marketing tool.
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