In the company I'm in we always go to eat a meal together at a restaurant very near to our office. This has been so for a very long time I have been told. I'm pretty new. I've worked there for about a month now.
I really like the idea of socializing and spending some "free time" together as it enhances the work climate, which is btw very good. Everyone seems to like each other and everyone, even the bosses (we are a small company with 9 people, including 3 bosses) are very approachable and down to earth.
Except on the days when some key figures join the meal, or there are a lot of people (almost everyone from the company) the table is very very quiet. No one seems to have topics to talk about with each other and sometimes there are even meals where almost no words are spoken. That doesn't happen all too often but sometimes it does and it's really uncomfortable for me.
I don't know how to change that. I would say that I'm really not too bad with small talk, sometimes I talk for an hour straight without even having met them before, like when getting a ride between my hometown and where I live with people I don't know. But during the meal, I sometimes get the impression that they are so stuck in this being quiet and not talking much that it seems as though they don't WANT to talk and just look at their phones.
I'm the new apprentice, so I can't talk too much about technical stuff (programming) and sometimes politics or sports comes up, but after 2 minutes it's quiet again.
How could I approach this, or help the table culture so we have flowing talks?