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What to do about Noisy Diners

When there are noisy diners in the restuarant that you are eating in- be it other adults or children, do you say anything to the waiter or manager? If so, how much power does the waiter or manager really have in this situation?

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  1. I remember a lunch a few years ago at a restaurant in Kennebunkport ME. There were just 2 of us - and a table of about 15 near by. They were having a gay old time - laughing loudly and uproariously. We, OTOH could not hear ourselves think. After having a Bloody Mary we got up and left. This does not mean that we begrudged them their fun - we simply had a quiet lunch overlooking the river in mind.

    1. I don't think a restaurant can do much unless the customers are being unruly or not ordering anything. As much as I hate loud kids, I would truly be offended if someone shushed me/my party at a restaurant. Basically I would either ask to be moved or grit and bare it. Next time I go I would ask to be seated in a quiet area.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nathanac

        I can only get behind your being offended if you are literally "shush"ed. But, you and your party are not alone in the restaurant, and if you are disturbing other patrons, I think it is perfectly reasonable for someone to say "you are disturbing other patrons and infringing on their enjoyment ... please lower your voices". I see no reason for others to suffer so that you can have a rip-roarin' time.

        1. re: abowes

          I'm a veteran of the food bidness, and I've seen polite shushing done, or done it myself, half a dozen times, easy. There is no way for a competent manager to rationalize the potential loss of business that might result from one table being excruciatingly loud and boorish and thereby ruining the dining experience for everybody else in the place. Unfortunately, some folks are sorta exhibitionist, I think, and love the attention they get when the shriek with laughter or loudly exclaim their points....

      2. Servers can't do a whole lot especially if the unruly table is one they are taking care of!! A manager might be able to ask them to keep it down a little if it is yelling/screaming situation, but I think if it bothers you, maybe ask kindly yourself! A lot of times people don't realize how loud they are!

        1 Reply
        1. re: sweetnspicy

          Unless they are overly intoxicated and/or causing quite a scene it really isn't an issue that the restaurant can fix. Especially if they have already spent a good deal on dinner or are regulars that frequent that establishment often. I don't think that it would be too much of an inconvenience if you took the initiative and asked the table to keep the noise level down, maybe it would give them a "head's up" that they need to regulate their sound or children. But to ask that the management/servers to correct a noisy situation isn't right. If the table was approached by the server they would (more than likely) be extremely insulted and never bring their business back. On the other hand, the patrons disliking the noise might not frequent that restaurant again. So I suppose it can be a double-edged sword on both ends. Other noise factors can be changed, music level for example, but not actual people.

        2. We waiters are around the noisy people too, and will generally notice if a table is being obnoxiously loud. We are usually muttering to each other that we wish they would quiet down. It's quite difficult to get them to do so, since very often they have had plenty of social lubricants. If you're in a situation where an adjacent table is being too loud, ask your server if it would be possible to get a different table away from said noisy group. If you really like your server, ask if there's anywhere else you can sit to get away from the group but still be in the server's section. They likely won't be able to (our sections are a close together group of tables for a reason) but will appreciate the gesture.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            Hubby and are friends are often that loud table. And for that reason, when we're a group of 8 or more, there are a handful of restaurants we will go to because we know we're going to be accepted for who we are, we are regulars and we spend a lot of money and tip well.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              I go out to dinner with a lovely friend of mine who is in her 90's (she's been 93 for years lol!!!). She has two hearing aids but you must speak up for her to hear you. We always sit away from other people but if someone sits next to us - so be it!

              1. re: Linda VH

                People are much more forgiving of your situation (or should be). My father couldn't really hear either. I also had to speak to him (well, yell) in Hakka, which even for San Francisco is a fairly unheard of language (hey, a pun!). People around me knew what was going on. It's the people purposely shrieking loudly because they think they're so special, the "hoodlums" who are trying to outswear each other (again to purposely annoy the rest of us), and the drunken folks who can't seem to control themselves that make me nuts.

                1. re: Linda VH

                  My sister was out with my father for lunch. He was hard of hearing, so she had to scream at him throughout the meal. Later, as they were leaving, a woman came up to her and reprimanded her for yelling at our father. She explained the situation. We have gotten lots of funny looks whenever we were out with our father and had to scream at him so he could hear us (he refused to wear a hearing aid).

            2. Unfortunately we all encounter these situations too often in our lives, like every day. The loud cell user in a public place working on a "big deal", the line cutters, the elitist assholes. When I was bartending I had a theory, I used to call it "the 5% factor", that the rude, arrogant people who yelled, "gimmee", when I said "Welcome, how are you tonight?", were the same people who didn't yield at rotaries or say thank you when you held the door for them. I used to think it was a small percentage (5%) of the population, but it's much greater. I believe it's gotten worse because people are afraid to speak up and management often has no guts to do the right thing. Rude obnoxious behavior should not be tolerated. Obviously you have to assess the situation and use good judgment, and each situation is unique. On many occassions the loud, boorish customers go unchecked, much to the chagrin of everyone else in the restauraunt(including the servers), because the manager isn't experienced enough to know how to handle the situation. Of course a manager can intervene, that's their job!!! Instead of saying, "some people have complained that you are being too loud", and inviting glaring looks at all surrounding tables, a manager should simply ask the table to be more respectful of everyone else in the room and lower their volume, and then monitor the situation carefully. It can be done in a nice way without alienating anyone if a manager is seasoned enough and "gets it". Loud people suck and need to be held accountable.

              4 Replies
              1. re: BostonBarGuy

                :-) I suspect just the population of folks who don't thank you for holding the door is more than 5%. There are times when I hold the door for the person behind me as I leave with the anticipation that they would hold the door themselves, and their entire family of 5 or 7 walk through and no one (1) thanked me or (2) put their hand on the door so that I can release! Hello! Do I look like the doorman to you? I'm a 40 year old woman, and 1/2 of you are younger than me! The funny thing is that it doesn't matter what age group, gender, or race. Of course I still hold the door - sometimes people prove me wrong.

                1. re: boltnut55

                  Absolutely, "BostonBarGuy".

                  There are so many people nowadays that have this totally unreal attitude of entitlement: anything goes, they have the right to do whatever pleases them - and "who cares about other people, as long as I am having fun".
                  Adults acting like rude toddlers: "Me! Me! Me!" The world centers around me!
                  Scary.

                  1. re: boltnut55

                    I have had the same experience, so many times. And just like you, Boltnut, I also still hold the door open for people. I refuse to become rude. Not always easy though.

                    1. re: boltnut55

                      I do get totally annoyed at this, so when I think someone's not going to say thanks, I look them in the eye and warmly say, "Here you go" or "Let me get that for you." It often wakes them out of their daze, and they say thanks.

                      A few weeks ago, I held the door for a mom with a stroller who didn't say thanks at all, even though I stood there for a while as she got the stroller through the door. I thought, "what a way to teach your kid manners, lady." Then, just a few days later, I was babysitting for a friend's infant, and someone held a door for me -- I was so focused on maneuvering the awkward stroller and not scratching the door or pinching the baby's fingers in anything that I forgot to say thanks. I realized it too late. Humbling moment ;)