We can all agree that far too much time at the dinner table is spent connecting with people via smartphone rather than getting to know the friendly folks you're sharing a meal with. Few things are worse than finding points of conversation with the help of social media. Your phone removes you from the moment, admit it.
Sneaky*s Chicken, located in Sioux City, Iowa, is sick of it, and offering a sweet incentive for a chance to go back in time and enjoy the company in front of you. Owner Dave Ferris takes a hefty 10% off the check every Wednesday night for customers that rest their beloved phone inside the “fancy box” at their table. “It’s a fun thing, no one is pressured to do it,” says Christy Wright, daughter of Ferris. “It’s just something that we thought we’d try out. We have a small family business that’s been here for 35 years.”
The goal is to bring table talk back; to stop socializing with usernames or text messages and start socializing with the people seated next to you. Wright told Inked, “We noticed that six out of seven tables were on their phones and we decided to try and change that. We ran the offer through September and haven’t stopped since. The phones ring and vibrate in the box and it is kind of funny to see how tempted they are to check it, but they know that they can’t.”
It was 1979 when brothers Dave and Rick Ferris opened Sneaky*s as a restaurant and bar, long before computers had a seat at the table. Over the years, Sneaky*s has become a family style restaurant. Their famous Sneaky*s chicken feeds parties of all sizes, serving up that deep fried Midwest flavor in buckets with up to 300 pieces of chicken.
Wright never expected the deed to take trend around the country, as restaurants in LA, Brooklyn, and D.C also now offer incentives to customers that disconnect while dining. Not surprisingly, diners are happy to take part in the offer; it’s as if people have been waiting for an opportunity like this – constant connection is exhausting. Wright explains, “Someone stopped my dad at the gas station the other day to say that it has been really, really phenomenal for his family because they bought a box for their house! They decorated it and every time their family is together, they put their phones in the box and don’t worry about them.”
Sneaky*s Chicken will continue to offer the discount just one night a week, “We have a big family so we do group texting all the time, we know the importance of staying in touch, but we wanted to give customers a break.” We appreciate the trend that Ferris and daughter Christy Wright have started and imagine it take off in 2015. As for you (customers, chefs, restaurateurs) if the trend hasn’t taken to your neighborhood (yet), channel that self-discipline and dine the old fashioned way.