Restaurant chain offers families free meals if they hand over their phones

restaurant chain offers families free meals if they hand over their phones close up of smart phone at lunch
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We’ve all seen it. Families sitting in restaurants, each and every member lost in their own smartphone as they wait for their meal to arrive. Hang on, is that you?

Many restaurateurs are keen for their establishments to offer a social experience, and by that we mean face-to-face chat rather than Instagram. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

The lack of communication among its diners has prompted British restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s to offer free meals for kids if families give up their phones when they enter the restaurant.

The Italian-American restaurant, which has more than 250 locations across the U.K., came up with the idea after examining the results of a survey it conducted about the way adults use their smartphones. After questioning 1,500 parents and children, the results revealed that around 10 percent of kids had at some point hidden their mom or dad’s handset in a bid to get their full attention.

More than 70 percent of the children surveyed said they wished their parents would spend less time fiddling about on their phone, while about the same figure said it felt as if their parents preferred to be on their phone than with them.

Frankie & Benny’s is running its “No Phone Campaign” from November 29 through December 7, though it said it may extend it if it’s deemed a success.

When a family arrives at one of its restaurants, the hungry diners will be given the chance to put their handsets inside a “no phone zone” box. As a reward for giving up their devices, the children can eat for free.

“We’ve found giving families the chance to part with their devices for a mere couple of hours is a great way to bring them closer and embrace family time,” the restaurant said in a statement.

To be clear, diners at Frankie & Benny’s won’t be forced to give up their phones — that would surely be a step too far and likely cause unsightly scuffles at the entrance. It’s all done on a purely voluntary basis.

“Our staff are actively encouraging customers and families to take part in the campaign, but of course, we can’t force them to hand over their phones,” the restaurant confirmed to the Independent.

We’ve heard of individual restaurants encouraging diners to part with their phones during a meal, but this is the first time we’ve heard of an entire chain trying such a scheme.

Fancy taking matters into your own hands? Then you could try the “phone stack” game, where all the diners pile up their phones on the table at the start of the meal. The first person to reach for their device when it beeps or buzzes has to pay for the entire meal. If the stack is intact when you go to pay, then you simply split the check.

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