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Chick-fil-A will give you free ice cream to just shut up and eat

One Chick-fil-A franchisee started an experiment that is being picked up nationally to encourage you to shut up and eat your food (and build community, but mostly get off of your phone).

chick-fil-a ice cream

Chick-fil-A is trying something new

While most brands, including fast food restaurants, are doing everything they can to incorporate mobile into the dining experience, chicken chain Chick-fil-A is doing the opposite – they’re trying to get customers to power down their cell phones while eating in the restaurant, and they’re willing to reward people for it.

While brands like Hardee’s and Sonic are going high tech by offering smartphone apps for ordering and paying, Chick-fil-A would like to see people put down their devices and simply enjoy each other’s company for a change.

Most readers have probably sat through a meal where it seems that everyone is looking at their screen more than they are engaging with one another.

How did this come to be?

The concept was created by a Chick-fil-A store operator, Brad Williams, who says that he wants “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.”

To encourage “conversation and chatter,” Williams provided a “Cell Phone Coop” for each table at his restaurant.

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The Cell Phone Coop is a closeable paper box decorated with chicken wire to look like a farmyard coop. Diners are instructed to “turn all family cell phones to silent” and put them inside the coop. If the whole table can make it through the meal without reaching for their phones, everyone gets a free ice cream cone.

The challenge has been a hit

Customers took to Twitter in praise of the concept, giving Chick-fil-A a much-needed social media boost. According to Williams, the challenge is fun and rewarding, so it’s “hard to sit with your family and not do the challenge.”

What’s more, “families who aren’t successful the first time…come back to try again.” The campaign was so successful that other stores began asking to participate, and the execs at Chick-fil-A headquarters decided to extend the Cell Phone to Coop to 150 of its restaurants.


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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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