At a cafe

I spend much of my day, inside, away from people.  This isn't really by choice, it is a fact of my circumstances.  I work from home and meet with clients virtually. In order to have some contact with people, I will take myself out for lunch once or twice a week. 

Each time, I find some place new to try. I have only found a few that I have visited more than once. 

I am curious to see the interior of each cafe, because everyone is unique. Each one has a different theme.  Once, I was at a cafe that was decorated everywhere with frogs.  Another time, it was a cafe with a beach theme.  Today, I went to a place that caught my eye a while back but I had yet found the time to visit.  Today was the day.

The cafe is in an old Japanese wooden house.  The main floor has been a restaurant for sometime, but it recently underwent a renewal.  I am not sure what it looked like prior to the renovations, but now it is pleasant and inviting. As I walked in, the owner happily greeted me.  I seemed to be the only customer, but in this city it's nothing new. During the day, I am often the only one in a cafe or restaurant.  I wonder where all the business is.

I usually try to choose a seat close to the kitchen or at the counter (if there is one), implying that I am ready to chat. I am eating alone, but I take myself out and pay the extra amount because I don't want to eat alone.  I am hoping for some friendly banter or just a happy person to be around, so I know there are people around. Today, I sat at the counter.

As is the typical routine, the owner greets me as I walk in, invites me to sit and gives me a menu.  When I am ready to order they take my order and then go to serve it up.  They are frequently the sole person on staff.  Once I have been served, this is what happens next....the owner disappears. Unfortunately, this happens every time.

I did visit one Italian kitchen and sat at the counter/bar.  I chatted with the owner, but it soon became awkward. We were speaking Japanese and he suddenly switched to English. He didn't seem to be comfortable in English, but maybe saw it as a good chance to practice.  Perhaps he didn't want the other guests to hear the answers to my questions or maybe he wanted to show them he could speak English? I tried to encourage him to switch back to Japanese, by asking another question in Japanese, but he became more flustered and insisted on English. It could have been he thought he was providing good service.

This lack of interaction is becoming a deterrent for me to spend my money eating out.  I think I would rather save my money and spend it when I can enjoy it with others. The food at each cafe is pretty good and I try to share a nice comment to the chef.  If it were outstanding, I would definitely visit again.  Perhaps my expectations are out of place and I need to get used to eating alone.