Why is it that even in the fanciest restaurants servers feel the need to interrupt conversations or ask you questions when you obviously have your mouth full? How is this supposed to enhance the dining experience of your customers? Pretty much every member of civilized society has taught since childhood not to talk with your mouth open and not to interrupt others while they are talking. Yet many high end restaurants essentially teach their employees to walk up their customers and both interrupt their conversations and pressure them into talking with their mouths full.
What is even odder than the fact that this practice is so common is that it has so many apologists. Many seemingly intelligent people have attempted to justify these rude intrusions by suggesting that the alternative to interrupting would be to ignore or neglect the diners. That is absurd.
If a server wanted to know if the customer required some assistance, he or she would simply need to walk by the table and make eye contact. A customer who required assistance would need only raise a hand or speak to the waiter. If you walk up to a table, and all of the diners are busy cramming food in their mouths, chances are they are pretty happy with their food.
Any experienced server, or even a halfway intelligent inexperienced server for that matter, should be able to tell if a customer requires assistance without having to barge in on their conversation. For example, if a customer’s glass is empty, he may need another drink. If a customer has barely touched the dish while the rest of his or her dining companions have almost finished, there may be some problem with the food. The same would also be true if a customer is holding up his tenderloin in the air and staring at it or holding it in front of the face of one of his dining companions.
I have a suggestion for high end restaurants. When the customers are seated, the server should explain that the restaurant’s policy is to not interrupt conversations or as questions when the customer is eating, and that the server will pass by from time to time and make eye contact and nod and it is up to the customer to signal whether assistance is needed. At that point the customers will either tell the server how happy they are with that policy or they will say that they are perfectly ok with being interrupted and don’t mind talking with their mouths full.