• British restaurant chain Frankie & Benny's is asking diners to hand over their phones when they enter the establishment.
  • The idea is to help people "celebrate family time."
  • Diners will be incentivised to surrender their mobile devices with the promise of a free children's meal.
  • The scheme is being trialled for a week, but could roll out for longer depending on customer reaction.
  • However, the news has not gone down well with many people.

A British restaurant chain has angered diners by announcing it is asking people to hand over their phones in a bid to "celebrate family time."

Frankie & Benny's, which serves American-Italian inspired fare, is the first family restaurant in the UK to ban cellphones.

But the announcement has not gone down well.

From November 29 to December 7, customers entering the restaurant will be asked to deposit their phones in a designated "no phone box" at the table and leave them there until their meal is over.

See also: Silicon Valley parents are so panicked about kids' screen time that they're having nannies sign 'no-phone contracts' and posting photos of rule-breakers online

By way of incentive, diners will be offered free kids' meals if they hand over their phones.

The decision has been made following research cited by the company which apparently revealed that 72% of children wish their parents would spend less time on their phones, and 70% believe their parents enjoy more screen time than they do.

However, a spokesperson for Frankie & Benny's says it's possible the scheme will be extended if the trial is successful and customers respond well.

Judging by initial reactions, however, this seems unlikely.

"I am not handing over a device that cost £700 [R12,000] new to your staff so I can sit and eat fries that taste of oil that hasn't been changed in too long," wrote Felicity Hannah on Twitter.

She went on to ask, "How dare you make assumptions about why people are on their phones?" and "Am I really going to take family advice from a company that offers my children a strawberry milkshake that comes with a bloody doughnut actually wedged into the top with squirty cream?"

Another Twitter user branded the move "a desperate marketing gimmick."

Others pointed out that the decision is ironic, considering the restaurant encourages diners to post on social media and also use an app to pay.

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