Iowa restaurant offering meal discounts for “shoeboxing” your smartphone

Would you put your smartphone in a shoebox at the outset of a meal in exchange for 10% off the bill? A restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa has begun doing just that, and the results have been more successful than they could have anticipated.

While restaurant-goers are accustomed to getting lost in their cellphone screens during lulls in conversations, the tendency for the devices, increasingly bigger in size, to clutter up the cramped tables was impetus for management at Sneaky’s Chicken to begin incentivizing “shoeboxing” of its patrons’ devices. At the beginning of the meal, the wait staff comes around with a shoebox, into which all participants’ cellphones are deposited. They are returned at the end, along with a 10% discount on the bill.

The custom is unlikely to take off in large numbers, but participants reported that felt relief when giving up their handsets, free to converse without concern for interruption from one, both or all sides of the table.

As public cellphone usage proliferates, pushback of this nature is likely to increase as well.