Frankie and Benny's has introduced a mobile phone confiscation policy in what it says is a bid to stimulate dinner table conversation among families.
Diners who opt in will be able to place their mobiles into a "no phone zone" box ahead of their meal. In return the Restaurant Group chain will allow children on participating tables to dine for free.
Frankie and Benny's may be the first UK chain to introduce the gimmick, but it is far from the first restaurant worldwide. Eleven Madison Park introduced similar boxes in October, while last year le Petit Jardin in Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert near Montpellier began expelling customers who used their mobiles. Meanwhile, signs telling customers "no wifi, talk to each other" have appeared in sites across the UK.
"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.
"Especially with the added incentive of the ‘kids eat for free' offer at such an expensive time of the year."