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

Diners get free ice cream if they go cell phone-free during their meal.

ByKatie Kindelan
March 01, 2016, 11:59 AM

— -- 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.

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.

PHOTO: Some local Chick-fil-A restaurants are offering "cell phone coops" to hold their cell phones while they eat with family and friends.
Some local Chick-fil-A restaurants are offering "cell phone coops" to hold their cell phones while they eat with family and friends.
Chick-fil-A/Facebook

“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.

PHOTO: Chick-fil-A restaurant owner Brad Williams poses with one of the cell phone coops he created.
Chick-fil-A restaurant owner Brad Williams poses with one of the cell phone coops he created.
Courtesy Brad Williams

“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.”

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