- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa restaurant is offering its customers an incentive to put away their cellphones and talk to each other.

The Sioux City Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1rO48gZ ) Sneaky’s Chicken promises a 10 percent discount to customers who give up their cellphones while eating dinner at the restaurant on Wednesdays.

Owner Dave Ferris and his daughter, general manager Christy Wright, came up with the idea after they noticed a decline in conversation among customers who seemed preoccupied with their cellphones.

Wright said nearly all their customers participate in the promotion by putting their phones in a box their server brings to the table.

“It was just something that we just wanted to see if we could stop for a little bit and have people enjoy each other’s company more than their cellphones,” Wright said.

Paul and Jodi Speidel brought their 8- and 10-year-old daughters to the restaurant for the promotion two weeks in a row.

Ten-year-old Devaney Speidel said she didn’t mind giving up her cellphone.

“I’m rarely on it,” she said.

Paul Speidel said he’s got the biggest issue with his phone. Speidel is pastor at Westlawn Presbyterian Church and a Sioux City Community school board member who often browses social media sites and sends messages while eating with his family.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Speidel, who is trying to make it a habit to ignore his phone during dinner.

Greta Siebersma said it wasn’t hard to give up her phone because she and her friends had already made a habit of putting their phones in the middle of the table when eating out.

The psychiatric nurse from Sioux City said she’s noticed how other people at the table seem to feel ignored when someone is focused on their cellphone.

“I’ve see it too, where a couple is out to dinner together and they may both be on their cellphone,” Siebersma said. “You say, ‘What’s the point? Why are you even bothering to go out?’”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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