Serrano’s adopts family-friendly dinner plan Device Free

Serrano’s is putting these “conversation starters” on tables during their device-free nights in case parents and kids forgot how to talk to one another.

Serrano’s Restaurant is serving a dinner side aimed at bringing families closer together as the school year winds down and summer boredom sets in.

Since screen time for students increases exponentially when school is out of session, the restaurant’s locations in the East Valley are hosting #DeviceFreeDinner nights from 5-9 p.m. every Thursday.

The concept was launched by Common Sense, a nonprofit that advocates improving the lives of kids and families “by providing the trustworthy information, education and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

Serrano’s, 141 S. Arizona Ave., is encouraging patrons on Thursday nights to put their phones and devices in a basket on the table and engage in a set of “conversation starters” to prompt “meaningful, eye-opening and, at times, hilarious conversations with friends and family members.”

The little notebooks offer fun questions for all ages.

“You never know when you might learn something new about someone you love. More importantly, #DeviceFreeDinner night offers parents a chance to connect with their children without electronic distractions,” a spokeswoman said.

“Our family is celebrating 100 years in business this year and we are taking the opportunity to truly get back to our roots, which are centered around faith, family and food,” said Ric Serrano, president and CEO of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants. “The concept of Device-Free Dinners appeals to our values, and we look forward to offering deeply discounted kids’ meals on Thursday nights as well.”

Kids’ meal options include either a cheese enchilada, taco, bean and cheese burro, bean tostada, mini chimi plus chicken and cheese rollups, quesadilla, PB & J, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, two kids hamburgers and other items.

In addition to half off kids’ meals ($2.49 for kids younger than 10) and conversation starters, Serrano’s will have informational handouts available from Common Sense about the impact of screen time on children and families.

“Our devices keep us connected, informed and engaged, but dinnertime is an important time to just say ‘no,’” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense.

“Everything from better grades to a healthier lifestyle has been linked to eating together regularly as a family,” he added. “By having Device-Free Dinners, families will gain important family time and set an example for kids that we all need to carve out face-to-face conversation time in our lives.”

Prior to launching the #DeviceFreeDinner campaign, Common Sense Media commissioned a poll of nearly 900 families with children between the ages of 2 and 17 and here’s what they found:

Family dinner is an institution. Seventy percent of families eat dinner together five or more times a week.

Dinner is a time for sharing. Almost all (93 percent of) parents think conversations at family dinners are important for talking about things happening in their children’s lives.

Devices aren’t welcome but often have a seat at the table anyway.

Even though previous research has found that 88 percent of adults don’t think it’s OK to use a phone at a family dinner, 47 percent of parents said they or a family member used a mobile device at dinner in the last week. Thirty-four percent said they had the TV on for all or most dinners.

For families whose dinners involved a device, parents felt conflicted.

A majority of parents said mobile devices made them feel disconnected from their families. And 58 percent were concerned that devices were hurting their conversations.

About 35 percent said mobile devices at dinner caused arguments.

Launched in 1979 by Ernie and Eva Serrano, Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants offer Sonoran-style Mexican food with recipes passed down through the generations.

The Serranos operate the oldest, continuously owned family business in Chandler, and are celebrating 100 years of business.

Today, Ernie and Eva’s eight children own and operate Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants. Six of the eight children and several grandchildren are involved in the restaurants on a day-to-day basis. From cooking to catering and payroll to operations, it is truly a family affair.

Besides Chandler, There are Serrano’s restaurants in Mesa, Queen Creek and Tempe.

Information:  SerranosAZ.com, devicefreedinner.org

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