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Robin Garr

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Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:09 pm

Fascinating article. Curiously enough, I've recently started adding a brief commentary in my restaurant reviews on the eatery's noise level, plus a decibel count (based on an average over several minutes done with a phone app), and it's getting positive response from readers. What do you all think, both about noisy restaurants and about efforts by food critics to evaluate them?

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/4 ... d-decibels
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:03 pm

Noisy restaurants are a bane. I come to a restaurant, aurally speaking, to hear the other people at my table, the wait staff when they attend to me, and maybe a friendly stranger at a neighboring table. I do not come to a restaurant to hear canned music, whether Pachelbel or Beyonce. If it is loud enough, I will leave, I don't care whether I've eaten.

I think the cause #1 in the article is definitely The Reason for noisy restaurants. The owners think it's exciting to be there if the air is full of sound and the patrons have to shout and gesticulate broadly. I ask restaurants to turn the music down and they usually oblige for about 15 minutes.

"Mausoleum"? Really? I think of low-sound as an oasis of calm and refinement, which I am normally very happy to find. Of course, if the decor or food aren't all that good, then maybe hubbub is the better part of valor.

To your last point, critics should absolutely report on it. Just like they should also report if the resto is in a bad part of town, or if it smells funny, or whatever. I bring all my senses with me when I go out.
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Barb Downunder

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Barb Downunder » Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:51 am

Robin, I absolutely, totally think restaurant reviews should include noise levels, it is particularly relevant to the aging population, where are losing parts of the spectrum (although just as relevant to hearing impaired). We go out to dinner for the food and the conversation,, and we don’t like to shout or have to continually ask people to repeat their last remark. And as you know the noise level is often a combination of music, customer density, and the acoustics of the space. Volume, hard, reflective surfaces lack of noise absorbing materials.

For us, there again part of the aging process is need for sufficient light to read the menu! If I enter a place with low lighting I will request a table with the best available light and neither we or our friends are the least embarrassed to fire up the torches on our phones to enable us to to read the menu.
Which leads also to how easy the menu is to read, print size, clarity of font.

The venue will of course make these decisions based on their market demographic but I suspect the “design” team don’t always consider practicalities.

Keep up the good work!!
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Jenise

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jenise » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:43 pm

Thought the article was spot on. Interesting they mentioned Babbo--I was there 20 years ago and when I think of intolerable noise levels, Babbo's my reference. Have I been to other restaurants as bad since? Probably, a local place that I don't go back to, and just last week in Pasadena at Union, but Babbo was the first place I went where I left because of the noise and said "Never again." It was more like a nightclub than a restaurant.

Barb, you're so right. Also, bad as it is for those of us with good hearing, it's impossible for people with lousy hearing. They're so isolated by it, they might as well be alone. But of course, most of these restaurants don't give a fig what people over 50 think, their target audience is about 30.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Peter May

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Peter May » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:46 am

many restaurants have redesigned their internals, replacing carpets with bare floors, having bare walls and ceilings, and removing table cloths. So materials that soaked up noise have gone and we have surfaces that reflect noise.

We have a restaurant we used regularly to eat at that did all the above and the noise is so bad we don't go any more.

And why loud 'house' music, which is intended to increase heart beat? If they must play music, why not relaxing. And in the background!!
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:47 pm

Having spent much money and time setting up several listening rooms, it is dismaying that acoustic treatments aren't used more often in restaurants to improve the dining experience. Part of it is no doubt cost, and the rest is likely ignorance.

I've been in an Earl's where I couldn't hear the waitress from the other side of the table at lunch time rush.
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Jenise

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jenise » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:51 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Having spent much money and time setting up several listening rooms, it is dismaying that acoustic treatments aren't used more often in restaurants to improve the dining experience. Part of it is no doubt cost, and the rest is likely ignorance.

I've been in an Earl's where I couldn't hear the waitress from the other side of the table at lunch time rush.


I don't think it's ignorance. It's just one of the the current norms for chic eateries.

Yesterday Bob and I had lunch at Din Tai Fung in Seattle. Very chic for dim sum--obviously designed by a restaurant expert. From our seats in the very large rectangular dining room, we could see the end that is the open bar. Four TV screens about five feet apart, all set to different sporting events, facing my direction. No sound, just motion, meanwhile pop music played overhead (but not too loudly). That's the norm too. Just plaster the walls with TV's--and always, sports. Fairly sexist, in that the idea is to attract lonely men who will watch a mouse running in circles as long as it's wearing a uniform with a number on it.

I want to go to a restaurant with an Oprah Bar. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:58 pm

I wouldn't go to an Oprah bar. OR a sports bar - ever!

Had an interesting dinner this week - at Chicha, a local Peruvian restaurant - guess I am now a 'Chicha-rone'!

https://www.chicharestaurant.com/

Liked their munchie - plantains cut in longitudinal strips, deep fried and salted. Not much sweetness in a plantain which suited me.
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Jenise

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jenise » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:02 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I wouldn't go to an Oprah bar. OR a sports bar - ever!

Had an interesting dinner this week - at Chicha, a local Peruvian restaurant - guess I am now a 'Chicha-rone'!

https://www.chicharestaurant.com/

Liked their munchie - plantains cut in longitudinal strips, deep fried and salted. Not much sweetness in a plantain which suited me.


I hate sports bars. But this wasn't a bar. It's a restaurant. And nearly all restaurants have bar areas and most of those will have TVs, and if they have TVs they're all programmed for sports. My point was: that's the norm these days, too.

Love plantains cooked that way. Great with a bit of Mexican chile powder too.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:06 pm

Jenise wrote:Love plantains cooked that way. Great with a bit of Mexican chile powder too.


They served them with 3 different chile and huacatay (Peruvian black mint) dips. Worked well.
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Jenise

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jenise » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:12 pm

Yum. Very interesting looking menu. Did you have the yucca frites? Love those!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Bill Spohn » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:37 pm

Sent you the menu
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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Jenise » Fri May 18, 2018 3:15 pm

This thread has me judging every restaurant I walk into now.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Fredrik L

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Re: Why restaurants became so loud, and how to fight back

by Fredrik L » Fri May 18, 2018 4:32 pm

I normally like my fine dining establishments to be quiet, but three star Frantzén in Stockholm is the exception. They play not so contemporary rock, (Clash, Dylan, Smiths, Stones etc), rather loudly, but of course you always hear the staff. The fact is that the music plays a big role in getting the guests in the mood. When taking the lift from the foyer to the lounge where every dinner starts, they used to play Buffalo Springfield´s For What It´s Worth (there is something happening here, what it is ain´t exactly clear), lately they changed that to AC/DC´s Back In Black (Yes, I'm let loose from the noose, that's kept me hanging about) after eventually receiving their third star. When you leave the restaurant five-six hours later the lift plays James Brown´s The Boss (paid the cost to be the boss). :D

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L

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