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Restaurant offers to give away free kids’ meals — if parents hand over their phones for the duration of dinner


A U.K. restaurant is testing out a soft, semi-ban on mobile phones during meals.

A United Kingdom restaurant is offering a free dinner for kids under 14 if the parents put away their phones during dinner. (Image source: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

A British restaurant chain is trying their hardest to get families to reconnect over meals — by requesting that adult patrons put away their smart devices and interact with their children during dinner.

What are the details?

The chain, Frankie & Benny's, has 250 no-mobile zones at their United Kingdom restaurants — between Nov. 29 and Friday.

The Lancashire Post reported that the incentive for parents to put away their phones is free dinner for the kids under 14 years of age.

According to the report, customers are asked to leave their cellphones in boxes at their tables until they finish their meal. If they agree — it's not a hard and fast rule — accompanying children are eligible for free meals.

Frankie & Benny's conducted a poll, which found that more than seven out of 10 children just wanted their parents to spend less time on their phones. The poll reported that 10 percent of kids admitted to hiding a parent's phone just to get attention, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.

"We want family to come first when you step into a Frankie & Benny's, and even more so around Christmas," a spokesman for the restaurant said.

"We looked at various ways we could encourage people to engage more at the dinner table, and 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 statement added.

Anything else?

The U.K.-based chain isn't the only establishment looking to reconnect families at dinner.

A July report in The New York Times featured a similar concept introduced by Hearth, an Italian restaurant in the city's East Village neighborhood.

Hearth also utilized special boxes that invite patrons to store their mobile devices until after dinner.

Marco Canora, Hearth's chef and owner, said it's easy to see that people are addicted to their phones, and added that few guests get through dinner without checking their mobile device, and even take them out on the way to the restrooms.

"It has really reinforced our belief that it is a true addiction," Canora said. "You see people succumb to their addiction all night long."

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