The rise of smartphones has been a pet peeve for many restauranteurs as many customers focus more on their phones than the menu or the meal.
Distracting phones are not only slowing down service time—which in turn reduces customers and revenues,—but are also reducing the family and community experience of dining.
Faced with this problem, Chick-fil-A restaurants – already well-known for closing on Sundays to give employees a time to rest, spend time with family, and attend religious services – recently came up with a fun incentive to reduce phone usage and build family togetherness. According to CNBC:
“The restaurant chain is offering customers in some 150 stores a ‘Cell Phone Coop,’ a box for families to ditch their devices while they chow down on waffle fries in-store.
Brad Williams, a Chick-fil-A operator in Suwanee, Georgia, who is responsible for the coop, said that Americans spend an average of 4.7 hours per day on their cellphone.
‘We really want our restaurant to provide a sense of community for our customers, where family and friends can come together and share quality time with one another,’ Williams said, in a statement.
Families who are able to go the whole meal without picking up their phones receive a free Chick-fil-A Icedream cone.”
But is there a wake-up call behind the tantalizing offer of free ice cream?
Recent decades have presented American families with increasingly busy schedules, brought on by two parents in the workforce and more extracurricular and academic activities for the kids. Such busyness has prevented families from spending time together or getting involved in their communities and local institutions.
In light of these trends, do we need more efforts like those from Chick-fil-A to help disentangle families from their devices to rediscover community and companionship?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.