Do you ever go out with a large group of friends or family to dine at a neighborhood restaurant to celebrate a special occasion? Maybe you and your significant other make reservations at your favorite dining establishment for a quiet, intimate dinner for two. What could be better than relaxing and chatting while dining at one of your favorite restaurants? The fact is you may not be doing much talking at all. Many restaurants today are so loud that relaxing conversation is impossible. In fact, in some areas it has been suggested that restaurant noise is customers’ second largest complaint, with bad service being the biggest complaint. Restaurant owners may want to consider how loud their restaurant is, and whether that is the type of atmosphere that will attract the desired type of customers and keep them coming back, or tend to irritate them and cause them to not return.
Why Are Restaurants So Loud?
Restaurants in general usually are very loud places. Most restaurants are made up of a few large dining spaces, instead of many smaller areas, such as a home would have. Larger spaces contribute to higher noise levels. Smaller rooms in restaurants would be problematic because it would be tough to arrange restaurant furniture for different size dining groups, and would create a terrible traffic pattern for customers and staff. Many restaurants now feature harder surface materials, such as metal or concrete for flooring, ceilings and furniture, which can create a cleaner line or more sleek look in restaurants. The use of softer materials, such as upholstered chairs and fabric tablecloths, is seen less often in today’s restaurant furniture and other materials. Many restaurants now feature open kitchens so diners can watch their food being prepared, which adds even more noise from the din of pans, plates and cooks in the open kitchen.
Do Your Customers Like a Loud Restaurant?
Most customers don’t like a silent restaurant and would prefer a low level of music or background. Many people as they age have impaired hearing, which can make it difficult to ascertain background noise and conversations with too much interference. On the other hand, some customers prefer louder, more frenetic music and the stimulation of a busy restaurant scene. In fact, it’s been suggested that people in general seem to eat and drink faster when a restaurant is loud, which could assist busy restaurants in turning tables. It’s also likely that faster tempos and louder sounds encourage people to drink and eat more which can bring restaurant higher profits. Consider though, there is a huge difference between silent and extremely loud. In some trendy coastal restaurants, decibel meters have recorded readings as high as 90 decibels – that’s as loud as a lawnmower! Whether your customers like to dine in a quieter or louder atmosphere, it is unlikely many customers enjoy that level of noise. Do some research on your specific restaurant and customer type to determine the appropriate noise level for your business.
What Restaurants Can Do to Minimize Noise
There is a lot restaurants can do to minimize noise and make it more comfortable for patrons. Soft surfaces and fabrics create a much less noisy environment than hard surfaces do. Consider using a softer flooring surface such as carpeting rather than concrete or extremely hard wood floors. If you can place a softer style dropped ceiling in your space, it will be much less noisy than using a wide open, warehouse type ceiling. You can purchase sound absorbing panels, which are upholstered or designed to look like art, and place them on the walls which will do a great job in muffling the sounds in noisy restaurants. Restaurant furniture can do a great job in assisting with reducing restaurant noise. Consider wood or metal chairs with highly upholstered backs and seats which will lessen noise. Restaurant booths are thickly padded with soft surface seating and backs and will make any restaurant much quieter. Restaurant tables can be covered with tablecloths and linens to muffle noise. Purchasing a soft surface table, such as a padded commercial table can work well for some styles of restaurants. Consider the appropriate level of noise for each individual restaurant, and these tips should do a lot to achieve the appropriate noise level for each restaurant dining space and keep customers happy and coming back.