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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : January 18, 2017

Restaurant offers to lock up customers' mobile phones

A small restaurant group in England is encouraging customers to put away their mobile device and focus on conversation by offering the use of a 'Phonetentiary'.

by Helen Leggatt

The Tea Terrace Restaurants and Tea Rooms are offering customers a small box, that looks like a book, in which they can lock up their mobile phones when dining at their venues. Dubbed the 'Phonetentiary' it is, as the name suggests, a penitentiary for phones in order to encourage conversation.

The restaurant owners were frustrated by guests, especially families with tweens or teenagers, not engaging in conversation because of the attention being paid to their mobile phones or because they were too busy taking pictures of themselves or the food.

The boxes are locked with a combination lock, which only the waiting staff know. Guests put their mobile device on silent mode and lock them in the Penitentiary for the duration of their meal, or until they ask the waiting staff to open them. The book-styled boxes remain on customers' tables and are free to use.

"In the old days the tradition of afternoon tea was a social occasion for the guests to enjoy conversations and a bit of gossip!" said Rowena Shouly, Director of The Tea Terrace. "The Phonetentiary will definitely help people go back to conversation especially those addicted to their smart phones."

Tags: mobile, restaurants

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