In Brief

Frankie and Benny’s offers free food to families who surrender smartphones

No Phone Zone promotion will see parents and children urged to hand over digital devices

Family restaurant chain Frankie and Benny’s is to implement a No Phone Zone, where diners will be urged to hand over their digital devices for the duration of the meal.

Starting from tomorrow, parents who agree to surrender their smartphones into a box for safekeeping will be rewarded with free kids meals.

The restaurant said the idea for the promotion came from research showing that many children are eager for their parents to spend less time on their smartphones.

A survey of 1,500 parents and children commissioned by the chain found that almost a quarter of parents admitted to checking their phone during mealtimes, while one in ten children said they had hidden their parents’ digital devices in a bid to get their undivided attention.

“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,” a Frankie and Benny’s spokesman said.

The offer will be available in all of the Italian-American chain’s 250 restaurants until 9 December, but could be rolled out on a permanent basis if customer feedback is positive, the BBC reports.

The move has widely been described as a “ban” on smartphones in media coverage, but a Frankie and Benny’s spokesperson distanced the chain from the term.

“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,” they told The Independent.

Parenting coach Parenting expert Sue Atkins told The Independent she was “delighted” by the move.

“We live in a busy, fast paced 24/7 digitally connected world, unless we consciously plan not to be, so I love the idea of families sitting together, eating and chatting together away from screens,” she said. 

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