By Amy L. Schubert Food Writer Published Jul 29, 2007 at 10:11 AM

I was speaking with a friend of mine who works in corporate training and she was telling me that her greatest challenge these days is keeping trainees off their cell phones and Blackberrys and holding their attention long enough to actually get some knowledge into their heads.

Well, it seems that restaurants have the same problem these days keeping people off their cell phones and Blackberrys long enough to get some food into their heads.

I am increasingly annoyed with diners at both casual and fine dining establishments talking on their cell phones during dinner service.

It evidently isn’t bad enough that you cannot go to a movie theater or a live performance anymore without some jerk forgetting to turn off his cell phone, now you cannot go on a dinner date anymore without the gal or guy at the table next to you yapping away loudly (yelling into the phone, of course, because he/she cannot hear his/her calling party above the din of soft music, clinking ice cubes, and other couples chatting in the background).

And, I feel even more for the poor dining companions of these inconsiderate yappers; no wonder none of my friends want to try to date anyone anymore!

On our last visit to Chicago, we noted several of the restaurants we visited now had specially designated cell phone areas, much like some of us may remember from the days of phone booths, when you put a quarter into a little black box, rotary dialed a phone number, and completed your call in your little glass cell.

Obviously these were meant to curb the amount of inconsiderate table yappers, and they seemed to be effective.  Sad that this may be something we need to consider because people aren’t astute enough to notice their own rude behaviors, but effective nonetheless.  Hopefully dining room cell phone answerers will learn to abstain from this behavior so Milwaukee restaurants won’t have to take this step in order to promote a happy and relaxing dining atmosphere.

Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.

The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.

Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to