Restaurant Offers Discount to Diners Willing to Lock Their Phones in 'Jail'

Would you lock up for your phone for a discount on your bill?

A restaurant in Kent, England is offering to knock 20 percent off their customers' bills—but only if they're willing to lock their cell phones in a tiny tabletop jail cell. Diners will be given the keys to the little phone jail, but their iPhones and Androids will have to be padlocked inside for the duration of their meal.

"We often people-watch in the restaurant and see families come in and they are on their phones," Spice Fusion manager Rajeev Gupte told KentOnline. "A couple of years ago we had a large group come in for lunch and I noticed something was different. As I watched them, I realized they were all engaged talking to each other, none of them had their phones in their hands."

Gupte said that the restaurant's chef, Abul Hussain, ate at a London restaurant that had a similar 'phone cage,' which gave them the idea for what they're calling the "Dinner is Better When We Eat Together" promotion. "We love to see people enjoying each other's company," the restaurant posted on Facebook. "And because we like to see this so much, we're offering 20% off food on tables of four or more if all diners on the table agree to lock away their phones in a phone jail so everyone can concentrate on the important things."

Because most of us have spent the past decade-plus being chronically dependent on our phones, this is far from the first time that a restaurant has given its customers this option. In 2017, London's Tea Terrace Restaurants and Tea Rooms debuted what it called the "phonetentiary," a box with a combination lock where customers could stash their devices. (And not only did it have a pun-derful name, it was also aesthetically pleasing: each lockbox was designed to look like a hardback book.)

"We want to bring back good old conversations," Tea Terrace director Rowena Shouly said at the time. "Very often we see guests, especially families with tweens or teenagers, not engaging in conversation because the children are on their smart phones. Or sometimes, friends would be busy posting photos of themselves at our tea rooms or their food on social media."

A person taking a photo of the food at a restaurant with a cell phone
Getty Images

The Fat Boar pub in Wrexham, England has also locked willing patrons' phones away—and their staffers kept the keys, to prevent anyone from being tempted to stage a mid-meal jailbreak. At Bistecca in Sydney, Australia, their "Digital Detox" program asked customers to surrender their phones at the door. ("Seventy percent of people are happy to do it, 10 percent are iffy but come around in the end, probably 20 percent say no way," co-owner Warren Burns told The Australian.)

And even one McDonald's in Singapore got in on the mini-trend, installing small plastic lockers where those who wanted to experience what they called "a fun family playdate" could leave their phones during their meals.

But…if your Pro Max is locked up, how can you post a picture of the phone jail?

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