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Tech-free dining…What’s Applebee’s cooking?

In a dining environment where cellphones have become as ubiquitous as breadbaskets, one recent trademark filing stands out.

Applebee's, the world's largest casual-dining chain, has submitted an application for something called "No tech Tuesday." (Restaurants often file trademark applications before announcing programs or new items.)


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While the DineEquity-owned chain declined to comment about the filing, any form of asking customers to ditch technology would be noteworthy in the dining industry—especially for such a heavyweight in the casual-dining segment.

(As it happens, the chain is also in the process of installing 100,000 tablets on every table at more than 1,800 of its U.S. restaurants by the end of 2014).

Some independent restaurants have already sought to curb customers' cellphone addictions. One Los Angeles County restaurant made headlines for asking customers to ditch mobile devices in its dining area.

Meanwhile, AP reported last fall that a restaurant near Jerusalem was giving diners 50-percent discounts for turning off their phones. Another in New Jersey held a pair of "No Tech Tuesday" nights last February during which the owners fined people for not complying—the money went to charity.

—By CNBC's Katie Little

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