Chick-fil-A Offering 'Cell Phone Coops' to Keep Diners Technology Free

KATIE KINDELAN

A mother of two kids who spent an entire meal on her cell phone and not communicating with her kids sparked an idea in a Chick-fil-A restaurant owner that is now spreading across the chain.

Brad Williams, who owns two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Georgia, created the “cell phone coop,” a box that sits on every table in his restaurants.

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The box, decorated with wire coop, instructs diners to turn their cell phones on silent and place them in the coop. If the phones stay inside the box for the entire meal, diners get a free ice cream dessert.

“It just got me thinking how to get people to disconnect in order to connect and to take a technology timeout,” Williams said of his idea. “Be present where your feet are.”

Williams started placing the coops in his two restaurants in mid-January, using a local printer and ideas from Pinterest to design the coops locally. Since then, Williams says more than 10,000 coops have been made and nearly 200 independent Chick-fil-A operators are using the idea in their own restaurants.

“We’re trying to slowly create rituals that create disciplines and will slowly create habits,” Williams said. “It’s almost like we’re starting to create a no-cellphone zone.”

“There’s more conversation and chatter,” he said of the impact he’s seen in his own restaurants. “It’s hard to sit with your family and not do the challenge now.”