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What is it about noisy restaurants that.... [moved from General Chowhounding board]

josephnl Feb 19, 2012 10:54 PM

What is it about noisy restaurants that is obviously so appealing to many diners? We went to one of L.A.'s most popular new restaurants last evening where the food and service are both wonderful. However, the decibel level in the bar and dining room had to be approximately equivalent to that at the end of the main runway at LAX...it was truly deafening. We're not talking somewhat loud, we're talking deafening!! Not only was it impossible to speak over the music without shouting, it was pretty close to being painful (and I know that my hearing is normal!). There were obviously some other diners who were complaining about the extremely loud music, but the restaurant was packed and clearly most of the diners were not especially bothered by what was by any measure, truly painful and deafening music. When we dine out, we like to relax over good food and wine, and enjoy conversing without having to shout. This is the way it used to be in most good restaurants in the US, and it is still the norm at most nice restaurants in Europe.

It seems that most really good and interesting new restaurants, especially on the West Coast, intentionally create an atmosphere that is "high energy". i.e., extremely noisy. What is it about this environment that appeals to so many patrons?

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    escondido123 RE: josephnl Feb 19, 2012 11:14 PM

    Although I don't get to LA,. I would argue the idea that "really good and interesting restaurants...are intentionally noisy." I would certainly say that is true of places that want to be of the moment and crazily popular, but then they are not all about the food, are they? I think the people who go there one to be "of the moment" and really the food is secondary to the buzz but at the same time they wouldn't want to be in a place that got bad reviews. Do not under estimate the power of the PR machine in LA and other major cities...it is fierce!

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123
      josephnl RE: escondido123 Feb 20, 2012 11:36 AM

      The restaurant I am referring to in my post above is Fig & Olive on Melrose Place in L.A. We've been several times, but this past Saturday night was, for whatever reason, the worst. It was simply deafening. As I said, my hearing is normal...but I am clearly not a young man. I do like excellent food and service, and Fig and Olive provides both of these. The food is clearly not secondary in this restaurant (and in other similar restaurants in L.A.), but nevertheless they obviously want a "high energy" (loud) environment. The average age of the clientele at this restaurant (when we were there ~ 6-8 pm) appeared to be at least in the 40's and although we only heard a few complaints, the restaurant was packed with happy diners. It's hard to believe that any serious conversation occurred...we were lucky to have the server get (most of) our order correct.

      1. re: josephnl
        escondido123 RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 12:58 PM

        Saturday night at a hot place is just asking for trouble IMHO. You might want to find out what their slow night is and go then a little on the early side. If the food is great, it will be even better outside of Saturday night chaos. Or, you can wait a bit and a new hot spot restaurant might lure the loud crowd away and then you can have some conversation. ADDED NOTE I just went to the website and the placer looks like it is all hard surfaces with an open kitchen--noise will tend to be an issue.

    2. Motosport RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 06:48 AM

      We had dinner at Prime Meats in Brooklyn Friday. Everything was excellent but it was noisy. I am sure it's intentional to keep up the energy in the air. I was probably the oldest person in the place. That and the fact that we were trying to "catch up" with some old friends might have something to do with it being mildly annoying.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Motosport
        pine time RE: Motosport Feb 20, 2012 07:46 AM

        I wonder if it's not 75% a function of age...Mr. Pine and I find the same noise level problem in lots of other retail establishments, too. We'll sigh, decide we're not the demographic the store is going for, and move on. Same for restaurants. Just can't tolerate being assaulted by noise masquerading as music.

        1. re: pine time
          Motosport RE: pine time Feb 20, 2012 07:53 AM

          Short story: Without really thinking we took the 90+ grandparents to Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse knowing they would like the food. It's a loud place with a busy biker bar vibe. As we entered I turned and saw the look of terror on their faces and did a quik U Turn. We took them to "their favorite" Chinese place that reminded me of the place in the Christmas Story movie. "Fa, la la la la!"

          1. re: Motosport
            pine time RE: Motosport Feb 20, 2012 08:02 AM

            Hey, we're not that old [yet]! :)
            Well, maybe we're a step or two away from Christmas Story's Chinese restaurant...
            Hope your grandparents enjoyed themselves.

          2. re: pine time
            visciole RE: pine time Feb 20, 2012 03:46 PM

            I always disliked super-loud restaurants, even when I was a young thing. I think it's individual, depends on how sensitive your ears are, how much you like to talk, how much you want to be somewhere hot.

            1. re: visciole
              njmarshall55 RE: visciole Mar 23, 2012 08:09 AM

              Same here. Do NO like loud places. Even discounting advanced hearing loss from working around jet engines, it's difficult enough to hear a reasonably-voiced conversation without loud music, loud tables next to us, a completely open dining room with no carpeting or anything else to absorb the sound. I'm definitely NOT the bar type...at least loud bars. And Mariachi bands? Fuhgeddabowdit!

            2. re: pine time
              Bill Hunt RE: pine time Feb 22, 2012 08:35 PM

              That could well be. Many "older" folk remember dining, where ladies were ladies, and gentlemen were gentlemen. No on screamed, nor did they fell the need to. Conversation happened around the table, and was not really shared with other diners. That was how it once was.

              Now, it is about shouting, and screaming above a high dB ambient level, so that others will notice those diners, and realize that they are having fun.

              Also, as a human ages, their hearing can decrease, so that with a certain ambient sound level, where they might once have been able to discern human speech, now they are not so able.

              Many younger diners might call my choices "stuffy," and many have, but I did not grow up in the Disney concept that I must be over-stimulated, to know that I am having fun. I am quick enough of mind, to pick up on that, all by myself.


              1. re: Bill Hunt
                soupkitten RE: Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2012 08:45 PM

                thank goodness we can still sit across the table from one another in a loud restaurant and communicate via phone text-message!

                ;-P ;-P ;-P

                eta: oops, you already beat me to the punchline, below!

                1. re: soupkitten
                  Bill Hunt RE: soupkitten Feb 27, 2012 07:58 PM

                  Yes, I think that many are using text-messages, as no human could possibly hear above the din.

                  Maybe I should offer to text the ladies, to either side of me, as I can be heard, but they, being ladies, cannot.



                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    thegforceny RE: Bill Hunt Feb 28, 2012 08:22 AM

                    Why wouldn't the "ladies" be able to? Some of us can speak assertively and/or loudly.

                    1. re: thegforceny
                      Bill Hunt RE: thegforceny Feb 28, 2012 07:47 PM

                      When the ambient noise level is at + 125dB, most ladies, who are not on-stage at the Met, have difficulty being heard, above the din.

                      Just my casual observations.


          3. Chinon00 RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 07:27 AM

            It depends on what you want to do. I've always made it a point to choose quiet restaurants for first dates or for meeting new people since you are trying to get to know each other and verbal communication is therefore important. On the other hand if you are out with friends and just wanna share some apps and have a few drinks w/ good (and loud) music and "vibe" I get that too. However having an actual meal under those circumstances isn't to my liking either. If you have questions about the menu or wine list it's impossible to communicate w/ the waitstaff. So for a serious meal no.

            1. rockandroller1 RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 07:49 AM

              In a word, YOUTH. When I was in my 20s, I loved, LOVED going to a loud, busy, bustling restaurant with rock music blasting. Me and my friends were loud and boisterous, artistic types and the last thing we wanted was a quiet setting, we wanted to drink, eat, be loud and have FUN.

              Now that I'm over 40, this type of place is nothing but irritating to me. Shouting over my food is not enjoyable. My dining out experiences are more select and targeted, so the food is more important to me (and more expensive) than in my 20s, where I was more focused on the party/company and the food was incidental. My dining companions are many fewer than in my youth, and the hour of dining is much earlier as well. Yep, gettin' old.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rockandroller1
                meatn3 RE: rockandroller1 Feb 20, 2012 08:05 AM

                You nailed it!

                In my 20s this sort of place was exciting - added to being in a state of knowing anything could happen.

                My love affair with raucous crowds ended during Guavaween in Ybor when I looked up to see where the water was dripping from an air-conditioner unit and realized it was from a more organic source on the balcony... I guess he thought my group was costumed as fire hydrants.

              2. huiray RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 09:15 AM

                I'd walk out; or never return if I force myself to stay that one time.

                I agree with others here - it's not about the food or about actually communicating with people. These places I categorize as places to be seen, to be in the company of people who are "cool" and "beautiful" - and both categories seem to me to involve razzle-dazzle, noise, simulacrums of the frenzy where media folks crowd a celebrity screaming their questions at them and rushing them demanding attention (=noise); or "buzz", something that seems to be associated with people being actively active and vibrantly vibrant, that sort of thing; association of "hipness" and "coolness" with the sort of high-energy and loud "modern-day" "popular" music found in social scenes NOT associated with fuddy-duddies or old, has-been and decrepit grandpas and folks who haven't been young-and-with-it-for-wow-a-couple-years-at-least. Oh, also the young folks who engage in such things and go to these loud and hyperactive hell-holes might also be the same folks who have been going to heavy metal or rock concerts with volume levels always above normal pain or eardrum-destroying thresholds for all their formative years so they are both deaf and expectant of a similar scene when they have the money to throw away at the places referred to here in this thread. Ditto all these younger-generation folks (not all, so don't start screaming obscenities my way) who walk around in a daze all day with their music devices plugged into their ears having loud music blasted directly into their ears and oblivious to everything else around them which they can't hear including ambulance sirens right behind them. I include all these folks (so many of them…) who go on these vigorous daily runs, do these strenuous exercise routines, etc etc while plugged into music blaring from these same devices directly into their ears…

                Of course, I say all this as a 100% joke. ;-)

                OTOH, hasn't there been studies that seem to indicate that loud music in restaurants tend to make people eat and drink faster, spend and drink less, and leave faster - maybe the gain in turnover wins over the smaller tabs per person? (with the "buzz" factor drawing them in) ☺
                etc etc...

                5 Replies
                1. re: huiray
                  josephnl RE: huiray Feb 20, 2012 11:40 AM

                  I disagree that it's not about the food...many of these restaurants serve superb food (Fig and Olive, for example). I do agree that serious conversation with others, has to be low down on the list of priorities for customers who come to these places.

                  1. re: josephnl
                    huiray RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 11:50 AM

                    OK. Still, I think even if superb food is served - as at the place you have now identified - it becomes secondary, or at least not properly enjoyed in a general sense, under the barrage of that loud music and hyperkinetic frenzy. I for one would find it hard to appreciate fine food under such circumstances.

                    escondido touched on a related facet above - I would go along with the notion that perhaps it wouldn't do such places any good to serve *bad* food to their actively active and vibrantly vibrant clientele, who may not want to be described in the gossip pages the next day as having no sophistication at all by dining at a place that had crappy food... :-)

                    1. re: josephnl
                      Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 22, 2012 08:37 PM

                      Hey, you can always text the others at your table...


                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        huiray RE: Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2012 10:15 AM


                        1. re: huiray
                          Bill Hunt RE: huiray Feb 24, 2012 06:06 PM

                          Yep, seems that everyone's dong it... [Grin]


                  2. t
                    thegforceny RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 12:45 PM

                    Hey - maybe this just isn't a restaurant for you? Others clearly are having a great time.

                    Dare I agree with other posters - it's a function of age.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: thegforceny
                      Chinon00 RE: thegforceny Feb 20, 2012 01:37 PM

                      You must define a "great time".

                      1. re: Chinon00
                        thegforceny RE: Chinon00 Feb 20, 2012 01:45 PM

                        I am referencing comments about the place in this thread:

                        "crazily popular"
                        " happy diners"
                        "...we wanted to drink, eat, be loud and have FUN"

                        There's a time and a place for everyone. This place is for one type, not crochety, old fussbudgets.
                        (Not referring to you or OP as COFb, just general statement)

                        1. re: thegforceny
                          Bill Hunt RE: thegforceny Feb 22, 2012 08:44 PM

                          Well, I am "old," and probably "crochety," but am anything BUT a "fussbudget." I dine at many Michelin 3-star restaurants (Europe and UK), during the year. None are loud. All are refined, as are most of the patrons.

                          One of our favorite restaurants in the Phoenix Metro-Area is loud, and though the food and service are great (if you can hear the serves above the shouts and screams), we just do not dine there anymore.

                          I want a great dining experience for my $, and spend a bunch of those, over the year. I want to hear my dining companions, and be able to be heard, without shouting. Now, my voice can be projected, to be heard clearly in "the back row," but that is not my style. I want dinner with conversation, and in conversational tones.

                          I will gladly leave the places, that feel they need to convince the patrons, that they ARE having fun, to others. I do not need validation, as I know when I am having fun.


                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            thegforceny RE: Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2012 07:10 PM

                            Got it.

                            High noise = low self esteem; need for validation, non interesting discussions

                            Low noise = high self esteem; self-confidence, fascinating conversationalists

                            I've always enjoyed your gentlemanly, kind posts, but this thread is very judgey. Let people enjoy themselves in their own manner!

                            1. re: thegforceny
                              josephnl RE: thegforceny Feb 23, 2012 07:26 PM

                              I still really don't get it. Regardless of one's age or the acuity of one's hearing, extremely loud music (which even impairs the ability of the server to get one's order correct) obviously makes conversation much more difficult. I am trying not to be judgemental, but how can anyone reasonably conclude other than that those people who actually enjoy going to the kind of noisy restaurants that we're talking about, really prefer the vibe, energy and loud environment of these places, to the ability to have meaningful or serious conversation..at least while dining. That's ok...neither good or bad, but it's not what I enjoy.

                              1. re: josephnl
                                Chinon00 RE: josephnl Feb 23, 2012 07:38 PM

                                Quiet restaurants tho' don't guarantee "meaningful and serious conversation". It's the sort of suggestion that people who would go to the loud place have nothing significant to say and people who go to quiet places only have significant things to say. It's like judging someone's intelligence based on where they choose to dine. Thegforceny has a point.

                                1. re: Chinon00
                                  josephnl RE: Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 09:02 PM

                                  No...you are rewriting my words. Please reread my post. Nowhere did I suggest that persons who enjoy "high energy" (noisy) restaurants have nothing to say. I said that "at least while dining" at these restaurants, vibe is more important to them than is serious conversation in that environment. I am not meaning this to be judgmental, it just seems to me to be obvious. I just personally can't imagine having a serious, or even an enjoyable trivial conversation, while having to shout.

                                  1. re: josephnl
                                    Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 24, 2012 06:33 PM

                                    I missed that connotation, but then am not "the sharpest pencil in the box."

                                    However, I do question how some communicate, in some venues, where I have eaten.

                                    Now, communication is not a prerequisite for good food, or a good experience, for some. For me, however, it is part of the experience, whether it's just me and my lovely, young wife, or whether we are hosting 10 others.

                                    While I cannot personally understand what the draw is, regarding a noisy dining environment, that is just me. Many, many others love the noise, and seek it out. Many restaurant designers know this, and create spaces that amplify the noise levels, and to good results. Enough enjoy the noise, and actually embrace it, that it's not a bad marketing decision. It is just not for me.


                                  2. re: Chinon00
                                    Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 06:27 PM

                                    You are correct. However, that comes from the guest list, and if that is interesting, and the venue is quiet enough to hear, then all is good with me - so long as the food and service are up "to par."


                                  3. re: josephnl
                                    Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 24, 2012 06:26 PM

                                    My feelings exactly, though I might have used some of the wrong terms, or maybe mis-used some?

                                    I want to be able to communicate with all, whether they are my guests, or the servers. I can evoke a commanding voice, but never wish to have to do so, when dining. I also do not want to have to ask the server(s) to step away from my table, to some other area of the restaurant, just to hear what I require. That is, unless I need to make some major corrections to the service, and then, I want to do that, out of earshot of my guests. That is to be between me, and the service team.

                                    Still, I am anything BUT young, and in high ambient noise environments, my hearing is failing. However, even in my youth, I greatly enjoyed a quieter, and "more elegant" (my description) venue. Maybe it was my upbringing? Even as a child, we dined at the "grand dames" of New Orleans cuisine, and my parents almost whispered, around the table. That was what I was raised on. Could have been that my mother was DAR, or maybe something else entirely? Still, quieter is my personal preference. Color me "old," color me "staid," color me "no fun at all," but give me a quieter venue.


                                  4. re: thegforceny
                                    Bill Hunt RE: thegforceny Feb 24, 2012 06:18 PM

                                    I will not deny that I enjoy a quieter restaurant.

                                    I will also not deny that many want much more noise, and that many restaurant designers cater to that set of patrons.

                                    When those, who like noise comment, it is usually along the lines of:

                                    "Happening place."
                                    "High-energy vibe."
                                    "Feel that this is a fun place."
                                    "Quiet restaurants make me feel that people are not having fun."
                                    "I want a place, where I can cut loose and have fun."

                                    Apparently, the dB level helps many feel that they ARE having fun. That is not something that I look for - in fact, it is something that I avoid.

                                    Now, since I only took Psyc 101 about 10 times, and little more, I am not qualified to examine what those patrons are really looking for, but it seems that noise is part of it.

                                    Is it "validation," or is it a desire to feel "part of a scene?" I really do not know, and can only speculate.

                                    Much of my preferences are based on my personal tastes, probably on my hearing, and very likely on my age. My guests are MY "happening experience," along with the food and service.

                                    I will agree that "validation" might have been too judgmental, but then I am not sure what the proper term would be. Many claim that without noise, they do not think they are having fun. What would be a better term there?

                                    My vote is for a low enough ambient noise level, to allow for genteel conversation around the table, so long as it's not THAT large a table. Even in my "quiet places," those can be a real problem. For such instances, I seek out "private rooms," and then ask the servers to close the doors, or pull the walls around us, depending on the architecture of the place.

                                    However, many, many others want loud ambient noise, and seek that out, in a restaurant. That is their vote.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                      josephnl RE: Bill Hunt Feb 24, 2012 08:32 PM

                                      Thank you Hunt for expressing my feelings so eloquently. I enjoy the companionship of my dining partner(s) at least as much as I enjoy wonderful food and wine. Whether our conversation is trivial or serious, to me (and I think, to you) conversation is an important (indeed essential) part of a fine dining experience. Obviously (and I truly do not mean this to be judgmental), vibe while dining, is nowadays more important to many. than is the ability to converse comfortably without shouting.

                                      I think this may be more generational, than due to age. When growing up in our very low to middle class household, we kids had to wash before coming to the table, wear clean and decent clothes, speak normally without shouting at dinner, and ask permission to leave the table for any reason whatever. It's a different story today...and honestly (and of course this is judgmental) I don't don't think it's better.

                                      1. re: josephnl
                                        Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 24, 2012 08:56 PM

                                        I also question the "generational" aspect, being of MY age.

                                        Still, I want ALL of my dining companions to be free to speak, and to be heard.


                          2. s
                            Steve RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 02:49 PM

                            It is certainly true that restaurants are designed nowadays to be reverberant. There are a lot of people who want to feel a buzz about a place.

                            I do not think it has just to do with age. People flock to these places because they have little to say to each other.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Steve
                              monkeyrotica RE: Steve Feb 21, 2012 11:01 AM

                              This. There are two kinds of people: those who walk into a room and turn the tv on, and those who turn it off. The former are the type who complain when a bar/restaurant doesn't have a dozen televisions that nobody's paying any attention to. The latter laments when their favorite bar caves to the former and buys a dozen televisions that nobody pays any attention to.

                              1. re: Steve
                                Bill Hunt RE: Steve Feb 22, 2012 08:45 PM

                                There again, maybe texting the guests at the table would be appropriate?


                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                  huiray RE: Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2012 10:14 AM


                              2. n
                                nocharge RE: josephnl Feb 20, 2012 03:48 PM

                                Here's a WSJ article from a couple of years ago.

                                1. Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 22, 2012 08:27 PM

                                  Many diners feel that the dB level is a validation that they are having a good time. I am not one of those.

                                  I hear plenty of terms, like "happening vibe," "exciting," "really cool place," and such, when describing a restaurant/bar, where one cannot hear their companions, or guests.

                                  Personally, I know what is good, what I like and need zero "validation." Let me converse in normal tones, with my wife, or my guests, and I am happy. Maybe I am just self-assured, and do not need to know that I have gone to a "happening place, with a killer vibe," as the food, and the service will tell me that - I need no validation.


                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    josephnl RE: Bill Hunt Feb 22, 2012 08:52 PM

                                    I couldn't agree with you more Hunt. It's really sad that, at least in southern CA where we live, most of the good new restaurants seem to want to create a "high energy" (noisy) environment where, although the food may be wonderful, comfortable conversation is impossible. Sure, as we get older, our hearing may decrease somewhat....nevertheless, I can't imagine anyone, regardless of age, having a serious and comfortable conversation when the decibel level in a restaurant is comparable to that adjacent to a jackhammer. Sadly, I suspect that many younger folk find the energy, music and vibe of the newer restaurants more important than conversation. Yes, perhaps I'm in the minority, but I'm enjoying a quiet dinner at home more and more.

                                    1. re: josephnl
                                      Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 22, 2012 09:21 PM

                                      That does seem to be a popular design.

                                      Going back some years, we secured a reservation at Jean-Marie Josslin's A Pacific Cafe. When we arrived, our hostess looked at my face, as I surveyed the main dining room, where almost everyone had two cell phones, and were shouting into both. She commented "I think you will like our quiet room." She was correct. When we were seated, she explained the Chef Josselin wanted to recreate the "bistro feel" from his native France, with an open kitchen, and a lot of noise, with highly reflective surfaces to amplify the sounds. She allowed that not everyone appreciated such an environment, and that Chef Josselin had built the restaurant with a "quite room," that offered a view to the main dining room, and the open kitchen, but with absorbent walls, floors and off to the side. We had the best of all worlds, with the view, but with quite, to actually speak to each other, in normal tones. I could not have been happier. Though our hostess was only about 18 years of age, she was very wise - wise beyond her years. My hat is still off to Chef Josselin, for his considerations.

                                      Some like high noise levels, and some do not. The choice can be personal, but having a choice is a great thing. For me, I will take great food, service and wine, where I can talk to, an hear my guests. Others can have the shout and scream environments. They are not for me.


                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                        pine time RE: Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2012 09:36 AM

                                        Brilliant design. Mr. Pine and I choose to frequently an older dining establishment that is considered stuffy by some, but perfect for us. Quiet, just a softened bit of live piano music from the lobby, excellent table service, knowledgeable, not snobby sommelier, and good-to-excellent food. I'll take "high energy" in terms of my response to good food and service, not be told to be energized by someone's dictates.

                                        1. re: pine time
                                          Bill Hunt RE: pine time Feb 24, 2012 06:38 PM

                                          Ah, the piano.

                                          Going back some years, we had a Sunday Brunch at a favorite restaurant in New Orleans. It is basically a fairly quiet venue, and I appreciate that. However, on one instance, we were seated in the area around the bar, where the piano was. Instead of mic'ing the piano, they chose to just have the player play more loudly! We could not carry on a conversation, as the piano drowned out all voice, to carry to the rest of the restaurant. Oh well, at least we knew WHERE to request a table, and it was NOT in the bar, with the piano. BTW - the piano player was very, very good, BUT!


                                    2. re: Bill Hunt
                                      Seth Chadwick RE: Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2012 01:57 AM

                                      You can see that played out fully on Open Table.

                                      When you review a restaurant, one of the categories is "Noise." Here are the options you can choose from:

                                      Don't Recall

                                      What a very poor selection.

                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                        Bill Hunt RE: Seth Chadwick Feb 26, 2012 05:37 PM

                                        Yes, I would like to have some sort of dB level, with some examples, like dentist's drill, lawnmower, Harley without a muffler, commercial jet engine, military jet engine, Concord flying over your house at 1000' at full speed... [Grin]

                                        I do use the OT "noise level scale," and usually am in the "Quiet," or "Moderate," as I seldom dine at "Energetic," and I always "Recall."

                                        Now, there are MANY, who DO love loud restaurants. I have no issue with that. I also do not care WHY they like the loudness, though I might have implied otherwise in this thread - not really what I meant to do. There are many, otherwise great restaurants (to me), where I will not be dining, due to the dB level. That only costs the owners my business, and so long as they fill the tables with others, there is nothing wrong with that.

                                        I just like quieter restaurants, and that is that. I do not care what the interior designer had in mind, who that designer is, who the chef is, or how good the food is - if it's too loud for me, I just do not dine there, and have left many establishments, apologizing for ditching my reservation, but explaining why I am doing so.

                                        Just dined at a local-fav (one that you know, Seth), and one, where I have always felt that the music was a bit too loud, especially with the highly reflective surfaces. Again, it was rather loud, at least when we arrived. However, I noticed that after just a bit, they turned the sound system down - not sure if anyone asked, or it's now their course of action.


                                    3. b
                                      bulavinaka RE: josephnl Feb 22, 2012 11:21 PM

                                      I think loud diners are part of the problem but restaurant design is another. I know a designer who does many things, including acoustics. He's been busy working with restaurant owners who are trying to lower the noise issue in their restaurants. Most restaurants don't consider this issue until after the place is up and running, and the complaints from the diners as well as employees start piling in. Extensive incorporation of hard surfaces, shape and size of rooms, and layout are some of the factors. As easy as it is to create a room that is acoustically bad, the designer says it's extremely challenging to mitigate it.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: bulavinaka
                                        monkeyrotica RE: bulavinaka Feb 23, 2012 03:24 AM

                                        The loudest restaurants in DC seem to have been designed with a noisy "vibe" in mind. The smaller ones basically look like they gutted a building and plopped a bar and some stools down: bare floors, exposed brick, high echo chamber celings. Even those that were built from scratch reflect this mindset: wide open dining areas with huge windows opening out onto the street to show passers by how much loud fun everyone's having. I've noticed that some of the trendier deafening restaurants seem to be addressing noise concerns by installing carpets, partitioning the bar section, installing booths, and draping the walls and windows in ornamental curtains to dampen some of the sound.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                          Bill Hunt RE: bulavinaka Feb 24, 2012 06:50 PM

                                          Acoustics are often a part of the restaurant's "design," and many feel that for the "target market," it should be very high.

                                          OTOH, I know many, who bought existing restaurants, only to have to temper things, due to the complaints of their patrons. The slope gets very slippery.

                                          Two of our favorites, in the Phoenix Metro-Area, are noisy, and noiser! We can tolerate the former, and struggle with the latter. One favorite restaurant is off of our list for board dinners, however much we'd love to dine there, as there is just no way to have a business conversation, even in their "quiet room." Still, they are usually filled, so likely do not miss our business.

                                          And yes, "loud diners," are very much part of the problem. When the "vibe" of a restaurant is quiet, I do not understand what they are thinking. Not that long ago, we dined at a lovely restaurant in New Orleans. We were seated in the main dining room, which WAS rather quiet, as there were four other tables, of "business dinners." However, in another area, there was table, that was horribly out of control. I felt very sorry for a table of 4, between us, and them. That table was trying to have a business dinner, and had to pack up and leave. We could not hear ourselves speak, and that 4-top was between us and "them." No way one could converse. When that table of six finally left, it was like we had been transported to a library - near silence, and we all were suddenly aware that we no longer had to scream above them. The silence was "deafening."

                                          Was that the responsibility of the restauranteur, the designer, or should that group have been seated in the parking lot, for a full "tailgate party?"


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                            pine time RE: Bill Hunt Feb 25, 2012 09:42 AM

                                            Yes--the noise from fellow diners, plus their various cell phones and other noise-making devices. When is the line crossed from the glare in their direction to the management needing to interface for the peace and quiet of the rest of the house?

                                            1. re: pine time
                                              Bill Hunt RE: pine time Feb 26, 2012 05:53 PM

                                              I do agree completely. Sometimes, it is not just the design, the music, or an open kitchen, right behind my ear, or anything architectural - it is fellow diners. However, that seems to be getting worse, rather than better, but then, it could be coincidence. I have recently been to two rather quiet venues, that were ruined by loud diners. Not that long ago, we were in a fairly quite restaurant, and one table was way over the top. After about 3 requests, the management escorted them out. The diners gave a standing ovation to the management, as the offending party was shown the door. I watched four diners, in an otherwise moderately quiet restaurant, move their entire table farther from a very loud group, as each table became available. They even bussed those tables, just to move away. We were in the opposite corner of the room, so had no where else to go, and found that one table horribly loud. Unfortunately, the two women were from the US, and this was in London. However, their dates were either from the UK, or maybe Australia, and were just as loud.

                                              Not sure that there is an answer for that, beyond breeding and training.


                                        2. Chinon00 RE: josephnl Feb 23, 2012 05:25 AM

                                          Ok so I do prefer not to have loud throbbing music in or near the dining space HOWEVER there are certainly styles of restaurants such as brasseries and trattorie where some noise and bustle is part of the charm; w/o taking much away from the meal or conversation.

                                          29 Replies
                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                            monkeyrotica RE: Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 09:03 AM

                                            There's a difference between normal brasserie bustle and chitchat and nightclub-style deafening. The problem is that a lot of the former are mutating into the latter; I'm inclined to think this is driven by younger customers who are making up a larger portion of the dining out demographic.

                                            There's a scene from The Dark Knight where the Carmine Falcone is sitting at a table with his girlfriend in a deafening club. The girlfriend yells, "It's really loud in here. Can't we go someplace else and talk?" Falcone replies, "What makes you think I want to hear you talk?" Given the number of people I see distracted by their phones in restaurants, maybe this attitude has something to do with it.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica
                                              Bill Hunt RE: monkeyrotica Feb 24, 2012 06:54 PM

                                              Ah, that might explain some of it. In my case, I DO want to hear my guests talk, but then am very much "old school," and obviously in a minority.


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                monkeyrotica RE: Bill Hunt Mar 28, 2012 04:44 AM

                                                A secondary issue is the prevalence of televisions in dining areas. If a restaurant has a bar, it's more than likely that the bar has at least three televisions. It's long been established that televisions stimulate consumption; you're more likely to eat and drink more while watching tv than while not watching tv. One gets so used to the "chatter" of tv that its absence can seem unnervingly quiet. Combine that with the tendency for those consuming alcohol to get progressively louder, and you end up with the LOUD DINING EXPERIENCE that some people equate with having a good time.

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                  Chinon00 RE: monkeyrotica Mar 28, 2012 07:36 AM

                                                  I don’t think that the phenomenon that you are describing is anything new nor does it address the OP. The OP is discussing CONTRIVED artificial noise in restaurants (i.e. music more appropriate for a dance club being played at a dance club volume). I recall going to a restaurant in Philadelphia named Twenty Manning ten years ago and not only not being able to hear my guest speaking but feeling the bass from the sound system in my chest. Disturbing.

                                                  1. re: Chinon00
                                                    monkeyrotica RE: Chinon00 Mar 28, 2012 10:36 AM

                                                    Like I said, it's a secondary issue: over the years, people have gotten so used to loud TVs in sports bars that they now need ten loud TVs to generate the same amount buzz. And once you're used to that level of noise, chest-pounding bass isn't that much of a jump. It's like Cambells adding more and more salt to their products. Peoples' tastes have adapted to it.

                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                      Chinon00 RE: monkeyrotica Mar 28, 2012 12:37 PM

                                                      Yeah I disagree. There's been a leap to deafening rock and dance music in some restaurants. It's a deliberate act and not something that's occurred naturally. Again I don't mind the busy noisey atmosphere of your typical brasserie. And I've been known to visit a sportsbar from time to time. But in terms of noise they are both fundamentally different than having to hear Led Zeppelin II cranked to mind crunching level.

                                                  2. re: monkeyrotica
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: monkeyrotica Mar 28, 2012 08:40 PM

                                                    If there ARE TV's, and I seldom want any, they should be set to a 0 dB level, with subtitles on.

                                                    Disney has done some great (depending on one's perception) work with stimulation, especially in the queues of the attractions. First, give the children sugar, then overly stimulate them with video and audio, and soon the parents will pay ANY price to calm them down, such as buy every Cinderella item in the gift shop.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      monkeyrotica RE: Bill Hunt Mar 29, 2012 03:56 AM

                                                      One of the things I noticed at Chilis was that all the kids were bouncing off the walls and screaming and hitting eachother and standing up instead of sitting down. They were all drinking sodas. I think in some cases, the loudness of the teevees is to drown out the loudness of the people, but it's a vicious circle. Feed kids sodas so they get hyper and yell, turn the teevees to 11 to drown out the kids, rinse, lather, repeat. And these kids grow up to think that going deaf in a restaurant is the way you're supposed to eat in public.

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                        huiray RE: monkeyrotica Mar 29, 2012 07:17 AM

                                                        Hahahaha!! Oh, what a delicious portrait you paint. :-)

                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                          Bill Hunt RE: monkeyrotica Mar 29, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                          Though not at a Chili's, I have encountered similar.

                                                          First, we have no children, but did spend many Summers camping with our beloved nieces and nephews, so have not been isolated FROM children, though in controlled situations, where Uncle Bill and Aunt Linda, are the ultimate authorities.

                                                          However, we HAVE been to Disney World, and experienced things,with other people's children. Not a pretty sight. Stimulate them on sugar, then on overly-loud music, and finally with video, designed to get them over the edge. No, not a pretty sight. While I turn my back on medication, those would be a time, where I would buy, and hand out Diazepam, or similar.


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                            escondido123 RE: Bill Hunt Mar 29, 2012 09:18 PM

                                                            Numerous studies have shown that sugar in and of itself does not cause hyperactivity. Most often, large quantities of sugar are given to kids in situations that are already hyper--birthday, amusement parks etc.. Feel free to read more here: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/mai...

                                                            1. re: escondido123
                                                              monkeyrotica RE: escondido123 Mar 30, 2012 05:52 AM

                                                              Whenever I see a "study" that "indicates" "x" does/does not cause "y" I immediately ask how much has the "x" lobby contributed to the funding of said study. Because it's really easy to include/exclude certain variables to arrive at a pre-paid conclusion.

                                                              1. re: escondido123
                                                                Bill Hunt RE: escondido123 Apr 4, 2012 08:26 PM

                                                                What about sugar, and then over-stimulation, such as very loud sounds/music, and flashing lights? Any correlations there?


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                  escondido123 RE: Bill Hunt Apr 5, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                                  As I said, hyper situations seem to be the cause, not the sugar.

                                                                  1. re: escondido123
                                                                    Bill Hunt RE: escondido123 Apr 5, 2012 05:46 PM

                                                                    So there can be several different stimuli, that provoke the desired effect?


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                      escondido123 RE: Bill Hunt Apr 7, 2012 03:42 PM

                                                                      If you would like to read more on this, there's a great article at:


                                                  3. re: Chinon00
                                                    Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 06:52 PM

                                                    Those choices were ones, that Jean-Marie Josselin considered with A Pacific Cafe. He wanted the noise, happening atmosphere for most of the restaurant. However, he also designed a "quiet room," for those, who did not want that dB level. Hats off to Chef Josselin.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                      Chinon00 RE: Bill Hunt Feb 24, 2012 08:48 PM

                                                      Do you avoid brasseries and trattorie that do not have a "quiet room"?

                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                        Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 08:56 PM



                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                          Chinon00 RE: Bill Hunt Feb 25, 2012 11:34 AM

                                                          I've never eaten in the "quiet room" of a brasserie or trattoria. But some of my best travel memories nonetheless have occurred in them; sharing thoughts and stories across cultures with complete strangers.
                                                          I find the atmosphere (while boisterous) to be also extremely disarming and conducive to openness and communication between guests.

                                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                                            Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Feb 26, 2012 05:56 PM

                                                            And for those, who enjoy those environs, I say "welcome to the machine." They receive positive stimulation from loud venues, while I do not.

                                                            With the large number of restauranteurs and designers shooting for "loud and vibrant," there is obviously a very large market.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                              Chinon00 RE: Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2012 08:22 PM

                                                              "With the large number of restauranteurs and designers shooting for "loud and vibrant," there is obviously a very large market."

                                                              So you are placing the traditional brasserie and trattorie of Europe in that number?

                                                              1. re: Chinon00
                                                                Bill Hunt RE: Chinon00 Feb 27, 2012 07:58 PM

                                                                That depends. Do they fit?

                                                                If so, then yes.

                                                                If no, then no.


                                                        2. re: Chinon00
                                                          josephnl RE: Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 10:03 PM

                                                          Much like Hunt, I too like dining in restaurants where the ambiance is conducive to "normal" (non-shouting) conversation. Nevertheless, when in Europe and looking for good food in a casual and less formal, and sometimes truly wonderful and traditional environment, I'll happily accept a more "energetic and somewhat more boisterous environment". But never will I voluntarily go to the kind of restaurant that prompted this post...where it's not the customers, but the music and intentionally loud music and hard surfaces that to me, are pretty much intolerable.

                                                          1. re: josephnl
                                                            pine time RE: josephnl Feb 25, 2012 09:44 AM

                                                            Mr. Pine has some hearing lose, which is exacerbated by certain frequencies and extraneous noise, such as all that "you-are-having-fun" noise at some happenin' restaurants. It takes us awhile to ferret out what the vibe of a new place is, and then we decide if it's our venue or not. Sadly, more are "not" these days, but, then, I'll cook more at home and we can afford a better bottle of bubbly at home that out!

                                                            1. re: pine time
                                                              josephnl RE: pine time Feb 25, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                              Absolutely agree. Although we love dining out, it's really hard to beat even a simple meal at home, with a good bottle of wine, and the quiet conversation with my loved one.

                                                              1. re: pine time
                                                                Bill Hunt RE: pine time Feb 26, 2012 06:09 PM

                                                                Mr. Pine has company - me.

                                                                I lost many frequencies, and especially in my right ear, from photographing rock performances (always seemed to stake out the right side of the stage, as viewed from the audience), and firing 1,000's of rounds of 45 ammunition, even with hearing protectors.

                                                                Unfortunately, in a noisy restaurant (that "happening vibe"), much of human speech is beyond my hearing, and especially the average female voice (250 - 500Hz). While male voices can be important, I am usually seated between two lovely females, and do really care what they are saying. Now, I can project my voice above most of it, but prefer to not do so. When one is having normal conversation with guests, right at their side, one should not have to do so.

                                                                In my case, I choose restaurants for the total experience, in so many instances. I vote for quieter restaurants.

                                                                Many here are probably too young to recall, but once, upon landing, the purser on the airline flight would state, "Welcome to _____. We realize that you have many choices of airlines, and we think you for flying _____ ." Well, it's the same with restaurants. I have options, and exercise them.

                                                                FWIW - Mr. Pine has company.


                                                              2. re: josephnl
                                                                Chinon00 RE: josephnl Feb 26, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                                "when in Europe and looking for good food in a casual and less formal, and sometimes truly wonderful and traditional environment, I'll happily accept a more "energetic and somewhat more boisterous environment" "

                                                                Surely this can occur for you outside of Europe as well?

                                                                1. re: josephnl
                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Feb 26, 2012 06:00 PM

                                                                  I have heard similar. However, when in Europe/UK, we are usually doing "fine-dining," so miss some of the more "vibrant" scenes. I do not regret that, as we have had lovely experiences, and I would not pass on a single one. It's like dining al fresco on the sidewalk next to a very busy, loud street. Might be a great scene for many, but just not my thing - whether in DC, Mayfair or Rome.


                                                          2. Seth Chadwick RE: josephnl Feb 26, 2012 01:53 AM

                                                            The biggest fallacy is that if people are filling a restaurant and the music is loud, that denotes that the patrons are okay with loud music.

                                                            I have plenty of niggles with restaurants that I eat at regularly. For instance, I absolutely despise the fact that one of my favorite Mexican food places in Phoenix is cash only, and if you forget to get cash prior to sitting down, they have an ATM that will milk you for $3.00 for the courtesy. There is also a place that has great sandwiches, but their counter service model is a tool of the devil. However, I am willing to overlook the cash only policy and the counter service model because I really enjoy the food.

                                                            Last weekend, I was in SoCal and ended up at Batali's Pizzeria Mozza. It was a fantastic meal, but the rock music level was too high, IMO. Would that keep me from going back? Well, that depends. For right now, I found Mozza to have some of the best pizza going in OC and I would be willing to tolerate the music level in order to enjoy another great pizza. But if another place comes along that, all things being equal, gives me the same level of experience as Mozza but without the loud music, I would go there instead.

                                                            It's a little too cut and dry to suggest that if someone is enjoying the food, every aspect of their visit is perfection.

                                                            22 Replies
                                                            1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                                              monkeyrotica RE: Seth Chadwick Feb 26, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                              I have to wonder whether restaurants are using loud music not so much to attract a younger, hipper demographic, but to discourage an older demographic from dining there.

                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                Seth Chadwick RE: monkeyrotica Feb 26, 2012 02:09 PM

                                                                That may be a factor for some.

                                                                I think a lot of it is "people in the business" who say that this is what the public wants and restauranteurs believe them. Per my example above, Batali is going to have a full house because of his name recognition and the buzz of having a celebrity restaurant in Newport Beach. The fact that the music is loud may have some correlation, but it is a fallacy to believe that correlation equals causation. Some people might go because they like 1) Batali, 2) the pizza, 3) the service, 4) the valet parking, etc.

                                                                1. re: Seth Chadwick
                                                                  huiray RE: Seth Chadwick Feb 26, 2012 02:56 PM

                                                                  I would tend to agree with you regarding MB.

                                                                  I suspect Maria Batali gets away with playing his music LOUDLY in his restaurants, apparently the same music he personally likes, because he is Mario Batali. Many folks may go to his places *in spite of* the music, because they want to eat his food. It may be a different story if a lesser chef with less-well regarded food was involved.


                                                                  (If I were in an ordinary restaurant playing selections from Mario Batali's playlist - see above - especially at high volume - I would turn around and stalk out)

                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                    Up With Olives RE: huiray Apr 4, 2012 11:13 AM

                                                                    Yes, that's another consideration: when you think the music forced on you totally blows.
                                                                    Like a lot of people speaking up here, I didn't go to loud scene-y restaurants when I was young; didn't need to. I was at the music clubs every night, at my own scene. I would never have thought of needing an anonymous restaurant public to pretend to be cool with.
                                                                    For dining (if we had any money) we liked fancy traditional restaurants, nice and quiet, with a mixed crowd. I know that's not for everyone; we're all different. That's why restaurants should not all be the same, either.

                                                                    1. re: Up With Olives
                                                                      Chinon00 RE: Up With Olives Apr 4, 2012 12:33 PM

                                                                      "I would never have thought of needing an anonymous restaurant public to pretend to be cool with."

                                                                      What does that mean?

                                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                                        freia RE: Chinon00 Apr 4, 2012 03:06 PM

                                                                        I think it means that Up With Olives never felt the need to go out to noisy restaurants and rub shoulders with anonymous people in order to feel cool. As in, to go somewheres to be seen to be with the "in" crowd while at the same time you don't know any of them. Up With Olives, like many of us, don't need that environment to "validate" if you will our cool factor.
                                                                        I think :)

                                                                        1. re: freia
                                                                          Chinon00 RE: freia Apr 4, 2012 04:43 PM

                                                                          But Up With Olives also stated:

                                                                          "I was at the music clubs every night, at my own scene."

                                                                          So Up With Olives can "validate" him/herself at clubs but not restaurants?

                                                                          1. re: Chinon00
                                                                            freia RE: Chinon00 Apr 4, 2012 06:40 PM

                                                                            Perhaps! I have no idea, just speculating! Where are you Up With Olives (or should it be Downing Olives based on your music club activity JOKE there LOL :) )

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                                                              Up With Olives RE: Chinon00 Apr 5, 2012 11:48 AM

                                                                              Chinon00, I don't think any of us need to "validate" ourselves by being seen somewhere. I only added the bit about the music clubs to say that I do indeed love raucous music, and I do like being social. I just happen to dislike a disco (hotspot &/or meat market) atmosphere, particularly where I'm eating.

                                                                              1. re: Up With Olives
                                                                                Chinon00 RE: Up With Olives Apr 5, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                                                ". . I do indeed love raucous music, and I do like being social. I just happen to dislike a disco (hotspot &/or meat market) atmosphere, particularly where I'm eating."

                                                                                With that clear disctinction in mind you are saying that you would NOT mind raucous music and a social atmosphere where you are eating but you WOULD mind a hotspot &/or meat market atmosphere?

                                                                            2. re: freia
                                                                              Up With Olives RE: freia Apr 5, 2012 11:39 AM

                                                                              Thanks, Freia.

                                                                              1. re: Up With Olives
                                                                                freia RE: Up With Olives Apr 5, 2012 01:20 PM

                                                                                I understand what you are saying -- you're not a stick in the mud, you enjoy the music club scene when you want a music club scene and often it is about the dancing and music, as opposed to being in the trendy raucous dinner scene where the music/noise is more about "look at me look at me look at who I'm with" as opposed to dining....
                                                                                I think? That's the sense I get and I feel the same way....

                                                                                1. re: freia
                                                                                  Chinon00 RE: freia Apr 5, 2012 01:51 PM

                                                                                  Yeah because the music club scene is rarely about "look at me look at me look at who I'm with". People stand on line for hours, sometimes in inclement weather, for the possibility to solely get inside and dance to the music?

                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                    freia RE: Chinon00 Apr 5, 2012 02:06 PM

                                                                                    For alot of us, it's simply about which club has the best music and we go! Heck, the best music in my small town was at the only - gasp- openly gay club and yes we'd all line up to get in and MAN we'd stay 'til it closed. Trust me, it was happening, but certainly wasn't "the" place in town to be seen LOL back in the day but we didn't care.
                                                                                    This is different from people who are obstensibly lining up for a meal but want to be part of the frenzied atmosphere of the restaurant so to speak instead of being their for the food.
                                                                                    In any event, maybe sometimes one wants to be part of the "look at me" club scene, but that doesn't extend to the same ambiance for dining. Its the blurring of the two scenes that might be the sticking point.
                                                                                    I think that's the sense of what UpWithCheese is trying to say, and I understand that POV. It's really not a big deal, just a different POV I think?

                                                                                    1. re: freia
                                                                                      Chinon00 RE: freia Apr 5, 2012 03:51 PM

                                                                                      "Trust me, it was happening, but certainly wasn't "the" place in town to be seen LOL back in the day but we didn't care."

                                                                                      Maybe not for you it wasn't the place to be seen but maybe it was for others. Like you said it was "happening". Can't the same be said of some of these louder restaurants.
                                                                                      I would go to Pastis in NYC a lot last decade. And yes it would take on a loud clubby atmosphere at times. But I loved the food and wine (and decor) the most.

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                        freia RE: Chinon00 Apr 5, 2012 06:27 PM

                                                                                        Yes, it was for others, and not to belabor the point but my thought was that if I wanted to go to "the place to be seen" in town, it wouldn't have been that club at that particular timeframe in my small town. Can't argue that, because you simply weren't there.
                                                                                        As fro UWO's point, I think it was pretty clear and there really IS no harm in having a different POV from yours?

                                                                                        1. re: freia
                                                                                          Chinon00 RE: freia Apr 5, 2012 09:00 PM

                                                                                          "if I wanted to go to "the place to be seen" in town, it wouldn't have been that club at that particular timeframe in my small town."

                                                                                          But can't you see that others at these loud restaurants might feel the same? That by THEIR standards, despite loud music ,it WASN'T the place to be seen but rather a place they liked for food/service? I gave you my Pastis example earlier.

                                                                                  2. re: freia
                                                                                    Up With Olives RE: freia Apr 8, 2012 02:46 PM

                                                                                    Thank you, Freia. You get it.

                                                                                    And my use oft the word "club" was not to infer a big dance club (disco). More small venues for live music, where the music is good and where my friends and likeminded souls would be. Absolutely the opposite of a trendy social climbing place. In the same way, I happen to prefer quiet, relaxing dining.
                                                                                    Again, this is all personal preference.

                                                                                    1. re: Up With Olives
                                                                                      freia RE: Up With Olives Apr 8, 2012 02:50 PM


                                                                                      1. re: Up With Olives
                                                                                        Chinon00 RE: Up With Olives Apr 8, 2012 04:35 PM

                                                                                        When you said: "I didn't go to loud SCENE-y restaurants when I was young; didn't NEED to. I was at the music clubs every night, at my own SCENE" people might think that you meant you got your "scene fix" from the later and not the former. Apparently you don't mean that but I hope you might understand the confusion.

                                                                        2. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: monkeyrotica Feb 26, 2012 06:17 PM

                                                                          That could well be at play, however, I would worry about a business model, that deters an affluent segment of the market. Still, that could well be the intention.

                                                                          For me, loud music (regardless of whether it's CW, Rock, Gospel, or even Easy Listening), is not something that I appreciate If I wish to attend a concert, I will do so. If I want to dine, I do not want a concert taking place in the room with me.

                                                                          Again, just me, and I am an old-dude, but one, who has had the great pleasure of dining at some of the finest restaurants on the planet, and enjoyed many (most?) of those.


                                                                        3. re: Seth Chadwick
                                                                          rockandroller1 RE: Seth Chadwick Feb 28, 2012 08:46 AM

                                                                          I had the same experience at Otto a few years ago. I was there on business and 2 business colleages and I went there. It wasn't a "business dinner," it was to be casual and fun, but while I was at the "tolerate but not enjoy" the rock concert level of the music, my 2 dining companions, who are several years older, were very, very off put by it, not being able to discuss what we were eating or relax and enjoy the meal at all. It was a gloomy, quieter than normal dinner because nobody wanted to shout.

                                                                        4. l
                                                                          lergnom RE: josephnl Feb 26, 2012 09:21 AM

                                                                          There are 2 actual reasons:

                                                                          1. People's inhibitions are lowered in crowd noise. This is backed up by research. Unless you shut up, you have to speak louder and make larger movements to convey gestural intent. This adaptation process leads you into joining the crowd.
                                                                          2. People drink more if it's loud. See 1 above. Studies show that people use alcohol to adjust to loud situations. It not only numbs the senses a little but it lowers inhibitions. Restaurants and bars know this because they sell more alcohol when it's loud. People really do feel they need to catch up.

                                                                          We all know the worst is when a place turns up the music before there is a crowd and you happen to be there. It's one thing to be in a crowd and to adapt to that context, but it sucks to have no crowd and be subject to noise. They're trying to get a crowd started and you suffer.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: lergnom
                                                                            huiray RE: lergnom Feb 26, 2012 10:20 AM

                                                                            Do you have citations of those studies handy? Thanks.

                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                              lergnom RE: huiray Feb 26, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                              You can easily check out summaries of some.

                                                                              1. See Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research - a journal - work by Nicolas Gueguen, Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France. About the speed at which people drink relative to noise."Previous research had shown that fast music can cause fast drinking, and that music versus no music can cause a person to spend more time in a bar," researcher Nicolas Gueguen, a professor of behavioral sciences at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud in France. From the news release: "This is the first time that an experimental approach in a real context found the effects of loud music on alcohol consumption. We have shown that environmental music played in a bar is associated with an increase in drinking. We need to encourage bar owners to play music at more of a moderate level ... and make consumers aware that loud music can influence their alcohol consumption."

                                                                              2. A neat one is that alcohol tastes "sweeter" when the room is loud and that people can't judge the strength of their drink (meaning they'll drink more). See Stafford LD, Fernandes M, Agobiani E. Effects of noise and distraction on alcohol perception. Food Quality and Preference, Volume 24, Issue 1, pages 218-224.

                                                                              There are more but I don't have the time and don't keep this stuff handy. Other work at Cornell, for example, shows that simple parts of the ambience encourage much more consumption. Lighting, noise, simple things like clearing plates and glasses all increase eating and drinking. The shape of glasses is a big one.

                                                                              1. re: lergnom
                                                                                iamafoodie RE: lergnom Aug 13, 2012 06:04 AM

                                                                                I recall reading the Cornell U. published research paper over a decade ago that demonstrated the direct link between per capita spending and ambient sound levels. Unfortunately, so did a lot of restaurant designers.

                                                                            2. re: lergnom
                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: lergnom Feb 26, 2012 06:26 PM

                                                                              Sounds sort of like a "laugh track." Maybe the audio-engineer could add a bunch of human shouting, though that would seem odd, if the place was empty...


                                                                              1. re: lergnom
                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: lergnom Feb 26, 2012 06:28 PM

                                                                                Not sure about the studies, but I drink much less - I leave, and dine, and drink in a quieter environment. I cannot speak for other humans, so maybe I am atypical of the groups used in the studies?


                                                                              2. iL Divo RE: josephnl Feb 27, 2012 08:07 PM

                                                                                we steer clear of obvious problems like new highly talked about eateries.
                                                                                prefer places that are more established where we are pretty sure we'll have a good meal-can hold hands-sit close and hear each other.

                                                                                1. l
                                                                                  LeoLioness RE: josephnl Feb 28, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                                                  I don't like blaring music in a restaurant but loudness due to accoustics/crowds don't bother me, in general. And according to this thread this apparently speaks volumes about me, my conversations skills and my ability have fun. Hilarious! Who knew?

                                                                                  1. f
                                                                                    freia RE: josephnl Apr 2, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                                                    I'm not sure why this hasn't been said yet (as far as I can tell), but has anyone actually ASKED for the music volume to be turned down?
                                                                                    I do this regularly, especially at our breakfast haunt which seems to love its loud alternative folk music at a loud volume first thing in the morning. I ask the server: as in "The music seems to be really really loud to me. Is it possible to have it turned down a bit? I'd really appreciate it...." Invariably, the volume is turned down,
                                                                                    I've done the same at establishments that don't seem aware of how loud their music is. To this day, I have yet to be refused, and if I was I'd understand but I've never been refused. I think sometimes the music volume is set by one of the staff/floor managers and perhaps they don't realize exactly HOW loud it is.

                                                                                    1. whs RE: josephnl Apr 4, 2012 04:55 PM

                                                                                      After spending my 1980's in front of gigantic speakers at Studio 54, Palladium, Greatful Dead concerts, etc., my hearing is not the best of my senses-however put a truffle in front of me, and my ears perk up! Let's face it: loud, trendy places are for the young and the deaf.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: whs
                                                                                        Chinon00 RE: whs Apr 4, 2012 05:57 PM

                                                                                        What if its trendy but not loud;]?

                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                          monkeyrotica RE: Chinon00 Apr 5, 2012 06:46 AM

                                                                                          Are there quiet trendy restaurants? I thought trendy and "buzz" sorta went together, otherwise the place is derided as "dead."

                                                                                        2. re: whs
                                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: whs Apr 4, 2012 08:30 PM

                                                                                          "What did you say????"

                                                                                          Having spent a youth, photographing rock bands, at, or on, the stage, I agree with you. Of course, age has not been helpful either, nor has shooting large caliber handguns in competition, even with hearing protection. Stuff just happens.

                                                                                          However, I can tell the "pop" of a Ch. Latour cork, across the room, and always have an empty glass, ready. Selective? Yes, but please do not tell my wife, as she just thinks that I am deaf.


                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                            whs RE: Bill Hunt Apr 5, 2012 06:34 PM

                                                                                            That reminds me of a joke: a man goes to his doctor and tells him that he thinks his wife is going deaf. Doctor says to stand about 15 feet away from her with her back turned and ask a question. Man goes home, wife is standing at the sink and he asks "What's for dinner?" No answer. Does it again at 10 feet, no answer. Same at 5 feet. Asks the question at 2 feet. At one foot. His wife finally turns around and says "For the fifth f***g time, we're having CHICKEN!"

                                                                                            1. re: whs
                                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: whs Apr 6, 2012 09:29 PM

                                                                                              Oops! So been there, done that.

                                                                                              Just last week, there was a TV commercial for hearing aids. Wife asked,"what do you think about that?" My answer was,"What did you say?"


                                                                                        3. huiray RE: josephnl Apr 24, 2012 06:47 AM



                                                                                          A snippet regarding that notorious "chef" Eddie Huang:

                                                                                          His devotion to raw, authentic hip-hop has given Baohaus a following among rappers (Prodigy from Mobb Deep even performed at Mr. Huang’s 30th birthday party in March), but some customers flinch when they step into the store and hear a stampede of expletives coming from the speakers.

                                                                                          “In the beginning, we had a lot of complaints,” Mr. Huang said. “But I thought: This is what we do. This is what we’re about. Someone said, ‘Yo, man, it’s like a house party.’ And that’s what we’re selling.”

                                                                                          1. huiray RE: josephnl Jul 20, 2012 12:37 PM

                                                                                            NYT article today:

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                              josephnl RE: huiray Jul 21, 2012 02:09 PM

                                                                                              Thanks. A great article!!

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