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Alex

How Restaurants Got So Loud

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This is a pet peeve of mine.

 

From The Atlantic

 

Quote

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. 

 

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Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

-The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh.

    Nida Fazli, poet, 1938-2016 (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

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I don't know if the trend was started by Batali, but he was certainly an avid follower.  All of the Momofuku restaurants in NY (except for Ko since I've never been there, but it may be the case there as well) were ridiculously loud as well - as well as many many others.

 

I have always thought that part of the reasoning was to make people feel like they don't want to linger, thereby allowing the restaurant to turn the tables faster.

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I hate loud restaurants.  A while ago I was in a horribly loud one and measured the db level. About 30 minutes later it was much quieter...measured again...same number.  I think that our hearing must accommodate to the ambient noise level.

 

Which doesn't excuse it

 

FWIW NYC restaurants are the loudest I've seen/heard

 

 

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This is not a new phenomenon. Many years ago--25? 30?--I ate at China Moon in San Francisco. Had a wonderful meal but could not hear a word my dinner companions were saying. I was younger then and there was nothing wrong with my hearing, but when we got outside my ears were ringing and I felt decidedly ill. I still use the cookbook, which is one of my favorites, but that experience made me shy away from loud restaurants. I personally believe, and had this confirmed by a restaurant owner in Colorado, that it's intentional to promote rapid table turnover. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I think dinner should be an opportunity to not just eat but also to enjoy one's dinner companions. That means you have to be able to converse in a relatively normal tone--i.e., not screaming into each other's ears.

 

Now here in México the main source of noise in restaurants is loud music.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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Chinese restaurants are loud, sometimes cacophonous. This is seen as a good thing. There is even a term for it, which restaurants will use on their advertising. 热闹 (rè nào) literally means 'hot noisy', colloquially meaning lively; bustling with noise and excitement; have a joyful time; a scene of bustle and excitement; thrilling.

 

"Morning tea' or 'yum cha' is particularly noisy. Retired people get together to drink tea, eat dim sum and have a good shout at each other.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Real estate!

When rent is expensive, you need to pack tables as close as possible. Every time the distance is cut in half  to the sound source, intensity quadruples (inverse square law). The noisier it is, the louder you talk, the louder everyone talks ----well, there, it gets noisier! 

 

Maintenance.

Flat hard surfaces are easier to clean. Flat surfaces reflect sound and cannot dissipate  acoustic power.

 

dcarch

 


Edited by dcarch (log)
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22 minutes ago, dcarch said:

Real estate!

When rent is expensive, you need to pack tables as close as possible. Every time the distance is cut in half  to the sound source, intensity quadruples (inverse square law). The noisier it is, the louder you talk, the louder everyone talks ----well, there, it gets noisier! 

 

Maintenance.

Flat hard surfaces are easier to clean. Flat surfaces reflect sound and cannot dissipate  acoustic power.

 

dcarch

 

 

All true but the noise can be mitigated b y decreasing reflectivity of walls and ceilings...and by lowering the music volume. They intend it to be noisy. 

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2 minutes ago, gfweb said:

They intend it to be noisy. 

 Exactly. I am old and crotchety and when I go out for a meal I want to be able to converse with my dining companions. There are still places I can find that accommodate my eccentricities. But I also know that is not to everyone’s liking. Younger people often want to lose them selves in the anonymity of the noise.  It is still possible to find  separate venues that accommodate both of these extremes.  But one will often need  have to accept a compromise. But then life is just a series of compromises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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There  are digital active noise canceling hearing aids, and earphones,  which may be useful in a noisy environment.

 

dcarch

 

 

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2 hours ago, dcarch said:

There  are digital active noise canceling hearing aids, and earphones,  which may be useful in a noisy environment.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

Nothing more romantic than enjoying a fancy dinner with your love interest wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears ...

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That's another reason I love Torero's Mexican in Cary. They have carpet, low ceilings, and lots and lots of old-fashioned comfortable booths to eat at. 

 

I believe the first time I've ever had to eat at a table was when we recently came as a party of eight with tables pushed together and quite comfortable armchairs that looked and felt like leather. SIL with small baby complained she was stiff and sore on getting up, but I said I did not think the chairs were uncomfortable at all. She agreed and said they had gone to some kind of trampoline kind of place and her muscles were just now stiffening up. Young people. 9_9 xD

 

Anyways, this is another reason I've really enjoyed this restaurant over more than two decades. I did say I couldn't understand my niece's BF about the kind of burrito he ordered, but I was able to understand everyone else at a table of eight. The guy was on the far opposite end of the table and I'm not too familiar with his voice yet, so I don't think that's too bad for a busy Sunday night.

 

I just hate noisy, and to me unaccommodating restaurants.

 

The noise level at Torero's can go up when they book marichi bands. Some folks like 'em, some don't. I tend to like them, but they are not there all the time, and you know what? I like that too. :)


> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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I basically can't hear people at all in any kind of retail establishment. My actual threshold of hearing, as tested a few years ago, isn't too bad...down about 5 percent in one ear and closer to 10 in the other, pretty much the normal range for a guy in his mid-50s. The problem is that I can't pick voices out of background noise (ie, I need a favorable signal-to-noise ratio). To make things worse, my ears appear to be most efficient at picking up exactly the kind of frequencies generated by HVAC systems and crowd noise. The average Walmart isn't an especially noisy place, for example (most days) but for me the HVAC is thunderous and reduces me to lip-reading.

 

Bars and restaurants are worse, because on top of noise from the mechanicals you've got the din of conversation, you've got music, loud drunken people, etc. Usually I just stay home. :P

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"The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself."

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

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Another oddity is what some cafes/restaurants choose to select for their big wall-mount TVs.  My favorite nearby café has golf on all day long.  Golf?  Kinda like watching paint dry.

Even my late husband, who loved golf, couldn't watch it on TV.  B-o-r-I-n-g.  At least the sound is off...that's the best part.  I guess if you're going to choose something innocuous, it's a good option.

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13 hours ago, Anna N said:

 Exactly. I am old and crotchety and when I go out for a meal I want to be able to converse with my dining companions.

Sheesh, and you probably also want enough light to read the menu.

 

I'll get off your lawn now.

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MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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@Nancy in Pátzcuaro  On China Moon - as I recall the restaurant was in a diner type space with plate glass windows across the street face. A complete cliche of hard surfaces. Like you I loved the late Barbara Tropp. I was staying across the road with two toddlers (3 & 4) and we walked by but I thought it a poor choice to bring them into. All those condiments to play with on the tables.... Perhaps in that venue the noise was similar to an ""everyone talking loudly at once Chinese place"?  We ended up in an Italian place off Chinatown with more private nooks. Took home the clam shells and they had a blast with them in the bathtub :)

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Certainly some increase in dB is a result of open kitchens and tighter space but some is by design to create a buzz of activity and excitement 

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There was an interesting comment yesterday in Tom Sietsema's weekly chat in the Washington Post about Black Dirt in Kansas City:

 

Quote

The restaurant had two sections: one in front which was inhabited by millenials, and the other which was full of, well, boomers. The latter is laid out with curved banquettes, soft wall treatments and the like. We could converse and the other section could shout.

 

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Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

-The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh.

    Nida Fazli, poet, 1938-2016 (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

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I hate noisy restaurants.  If I go to one, and it is noisy to the point I have to shout, I don't bother darkening their door again.  

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by ElsieD (log)
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"The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself."

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

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Part of my job involves the management of sound. All sound can be controlled and engineered to optimize whatever "effect" you choose the patrons to experience. The high end restaurants who hire Architects who include acoustic studies do a good job of this. Very few spend the money. They are more interested in durable, easy to clean surfaces...which are hard. Which reflect sound in an unpleasant way.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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an extreemly interesting show from GB , a BBC series

 

spent some time loo0king into how restaurants ' manage ' their customers

 

for profit.

 

the design of the menu is important , to steer you to more expensive and more profitable dishes.

 

so is where they sit various people :   " Attractive "  get more visible seating , 

 

and the ambiance / noise is purposeful , even for chains:

 

hard seats , noise reflective surfaces , bright lights create an atmosphere that is not attractive for lingering

 

these restaurants are designed for turn-over as a profit center

 

comfortable chair , subdued lighting , absorptive surfaces are designed for lingering

 

and ordering a second bottle of wine, a big profit maker right their.

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1 hour ago, BeeZee said:

Part of my job involves the management of sound. All sound can be controlled and engineered to optimize whatever "effect" you choose the patrons to experience. The high end restaurants who hire Architects who include acoustic studies do a good job of this. Very few spend the money. They are more interested in durable, easy to clean surfaces...which are hard. Which reflect sound in an unpleasant way.

 

I still think expensive rent, health department inspections in city environment require  highly packed seating and hard reflective surfaces for cleaning.

 

That's why you don't frequently find noisy restaurants in suburban areas. 

 

dcarch

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Eh, not confined to the big city. I'm in typical suburban NJ and most places are hard surfaces. Easy to clean seems to be the mantra when I speak with restaurant owners, whether it is "sanitary clean" is not the concern, they want it to "look clean" for the customers. I've been BOH enough to be totally skeeved out, the Casinos in A.C. are a real treat.


"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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