Noise in Restaurants, part one

Noise in restaurants , part one

Have you ever gone out for dinner or lunch, and found yourself shouting in order that your table mate(s) could hear you?  Or straining over the table to hear what they are saying? Or wishing they would turn down that music coming out of those hi-fidelity speakers they spent so much money on?  Why do they want to stream syrupy and loud music into the restaurant anyhow? Aren’t we there to eat and talk and laugh?  Welcome to the world of the Noise Curmudgeon!

Several weeks ago, I got a link from my step-daughter who was visiting NYC.  Knowing my issues with noise, (she being the source of the name of this blog, in fact!), she sent it along.  The NYC restaurants mentioned in this article are measuring in at 99 dBs and more!

And the other week I was in Victoria, BC and went out for dinner with my brother. The restaurant we chose was really loud! We managed to get a seat in a corner, which made it fairly tolerable for the “NC” – but just! Too bad I didn’t have my sound level meter with me!  I would guess the main body of that restaurant was at least 75 dBs.

Noise in restaurants has been in the news at various times over the past years. It is an issue for people because they go out intending to visit, to talk, to meet – and find that the restaurant environment is so loud/noisy that they can’t hear each other without serious straining. And straining to hear is NOT why most of us go out to restaurants. (I read an Ian Rankin novel recently in which John Rebus, the main character, is out for dinner with a friend. They have been seated right under a crackly speaker. Rebus stands up and disconnects the speaker. Later the waiter comes over and offers to fix it. They politely decline!)

“SHhh,  dining in progress”


Back in 2011, Zagat, a restaurant industry magazine, published this article in which it reported the sound levels measured in several restaurants in NYC.  (What is it about NYC?  Do they have the noisiest eating places? Maybe someone should do a comparison. And, is it as bad in Europe? I know there are loud restaurants in parts of Asia!)

This article explains how the design of restaurants makes them so loud. It also has a great little interactive graphic that points out the key problem areas in a restaurant’s design.

This video clip from 2008 picks on a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

And here is another story from 2008. This article makes an important point about the impact of the noise levels on the people who WORK in the restaurant. As customers, we are only there for awhile. The staff are there for eight to ten hours, five or six days a week!  What is all that noise doing to them – to their hearing, their health, their stress levels?

And this article from a restaurant industry site addresses the issue of noise in restaurants, and refers to the next link, the OSHA one.

Here is a link to OSHA (The US government occupational health and safety organization) where they talk specifically about noise, and hearing loss and young workers in restaurants and make recommendations.

Audiologists are also very aware of the issue of noise levels in restaurant.  Here is an article from their perspective. They note how people with sensorineural hearing loss are even more affected by noisy restaurants.

Here is a 2012 story from LA.  They found someone who LIKES the hub-bub in his favourite restaurant.  Hhhmmm.


Next week, I will post part two of this post, where I will discuss some solutions to this problem, and provide some more examples of noisy restaurants!


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