Short of going to a country without Internet, or just nailing your smartphone to the sidewalk, a reward-based system like the one implemented by Chick-Fil-A may be the only method that could actually curb cell phone use during meal times. Plus, once the phones are away, customers will probably realize how nice it is to live in the moment, and translate the behavior to dining rooms at home. Straight-up banning of phones in restaurants will never work, as there are always cheaters, and people don't like being told what to do. But giving customers the option, and a reward, is a brilliant compromise.
If money is the one great motivator, free ice cream is probably a close second. I for one, hope to see this trend flourish. For humanity's sake. Also, I love ice cream.
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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He wrote this on his iPhone. At dinner. Follow him: @wilfulton.