A Georgia Chick-fil-A franchise owner has started the “Cell Phone Coop” challenge.
The owner thinks cell phones take away from families spending time together, according to Chick-fil-A’s website.
The challenge has gone viral and since been implemented at over 150 Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide. There are three rules printed on the side of the “Cell Phone Coop” that management wants families to follow.
The first rule is to “turn all cell phones to silent” and put them in the box. The next is to eat your entire meal “distraction free.” The final rule requires patrons to tell an employee when they have finished their meal so they and their family can receive a free ice cream cone.
Technically, the coops have not been put into effect nationally by Chick-fil-A. All of the restaurants that carried out the initiative so far did so because their owners thought it was a great idea.
USF students seem to agree with the reasoning behind coops’ new use.
“If I’m talking to you, I appreciate eye contact, or at least show that I have your attention,” Mekedes Jarrett, a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, said.
Jarrett said she is now more likely to go to Chick-fil-A because of the challenge. She believes it shows how much the restaurant cares about family values. However, she also said that she would not implement the ‘no cell phone at the dinner table’ rule at home.
“Home is different. It’s where you relax, and going out to eat is a bit more formal,” Jarrett said. “I can do whatever I want in my home.”
Chick-fil-A is well-known for its emphasis on family values. Founder Samuel Truett Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist and ran the restaurant according to his beliefs.
This can most notably be seen on Sundays, when the restaurant is closed because Cathy believed Sundays are meant for “honoring God.”
Interestingly, it is more likely that millennials will not see a problem with cell phone use at the dinner table. However, some appreciate the effort that Chick-fil-A is giving to get people connecting again.
“I don’t personally have an issue with people using cell phones when we’re eating, but I like the idea of that, and I like that the restaurant itself is trying to incorporate that,” Jennifer Mammen, a senior majoring in both finance and management, said.
She pointed out that it might be harder for the younger generation to commit to the challenge. Mammen said she can see where her 12-year-old sister might resist since she does not think she can talk to her parents about many things. However, she went on to say she thinks it is a great idea to get families and friends to communicate more.
“When I first read the article I was like, ‘that’s really cool,’” Mammen said. “I want to go there and try it with someone and see how it goes and if we can have a whole meal without having to reach for our phones.”