The family challenge works by turning off all of the family’s cell phones and locking them in a “coop” (a box provided by Chick-fil-A).
If they make it through the entire meal distraction free and the box is unopened, each participant is rewarded with a free ice cream cone.
Chick-fil-A franchise owner Brad Williams was the creator of the idea, after realizing the “no cell phone” rule he used at home at the dinner table could work in his diner, too.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and, over that time, I’ve seen customers at our restaurant go from spending quality time and talking with one another to being on their phones the entire meal,” says Williams. “There’s just a major disconnect.
“The challenge has completely taken off. We have families who don’t make it the first time, either because they ended up texting or something else, but then they come back in to try it again. Now we even have people asking to take the boxes home with them!”
Now, more than 350 diners are offering the family challenge.
Though it may seem backwards for a chain to demand something a lot of customers would find difficult to do, it works well with the company’s old-fashioned values.
The privately-owned family chain famously closes its stores on Sundays to give employees the day off for “family, worship, fellowship or rest”.
In a technology saturated world, it seems as though customers are appreciative of a company going against the grain.