Are restaurants too loud?

We picked a restaurant in Freeport, Maine at random, off of a list of good recommendations, looking for lobster rolls. We ended up in a barn full of picnic tables, at happy hour, full of tourists getting lit at the huge bar (noted for having 100 kinds of beer). All of them wearing their new khakis and polo shirts they bought at the LL Bean outlet, lol. It was packed and due to the construction of the building and each happy tourist having a good old time, I literally could not even hear myself. We were sitting huddled together at one end of a picnic table and couldn’t hear each other just inches away. It was memorable in that it was the loudest public place we had ever been in, other than our shouting to be heard over a one-man-band in a bar outside of a wedding reception hall.

The last “loud” restaurant I remember was the Cheesecake Factory.
The tile floors along with the hard furniture and walls made everything echo. The kitchen was also open to the dining area so you would get all that noise. Every single piece of silverware connecting with plates and bowls and coffee cups and bus boys constantly smashing dishes at the tables could be heard non-stop.

Yeah, I’ve noticed this also. One possible cause that occurs to me is that in 'Murica, loud = fun. The other thing is, since about 80% of the diners I see are looking at their phones, they probably don’t notice. :smack:

Anyone who has moderate hearing loss and wears hearing aids (like me) has their own mental short list of ‘go’ and ‘no-go’ restaurants based on the acoustic levels they’ve observed and experienced. The number of patrons, the size and design of the establishment, and the quality of acoustic surfaces found on the walls, floors, and ceilings all affect ambient noise levels. I may go to a sports bar and cheer on the home team, but do so with little expectation of engaging in any quality conversation while there. I’m just there for the beer and convivial atmosphere. If I want to go someplace specifically to talk, I’ll either go to a ‘real’ restaurant (i.e. one without plastic plants or wait staff that sings the clapping happy birthday song) or forego restaurants entirely and opt for some different type of venue

The ambient noise level can be substantially different depending on the room’s acoustics.

There is a small neighborhood bar not far from me with an attached meeting room. Parallel walls/ceilings and opposing walls, with hard surfaces and the distance between reflecting surfaces is not great. We have a local men’s group that meets there weekly, but I find it nearly impossible to carry on a conversation, and I always leave with a headache. I stopped going for that reason.

For some reason, acoustics is rarely taken into consideration when meeting rooms are constructed locally. There are several town multi-purpose rooms with low ceilings, rectangular construction, and super-hard surfaces on all 6 sides. The only absorptive surfaces are people and chairs; not enough. They sometimes add a PA amplification system, which does NOT solve the problem; it just amplifies the muddy echo and makes it worse.

FYI, here is an article from The Atlantic from a couple of days ago that goes into the question of why restaurants are so loud. In short, the minimalist design that’s so popular today contributes to the problem, as do the open kitchens that are also popular. Also, the article mentions that people drink more in loud restaurants and turn over tables more quickly.

acoustic ceiling tiles do a lot to keep the noise down. I noticed places with a hard ceiling are louder. Next time you hear a lot of noise look up and you might find out why it’s louder.

Chuck E Cheese’s is one of the loudest places I’ve ever been. I don’t know if you’d call it a restaurant, they do have “pizza” so I guess so.

The one locally has a liquor license and sells beer too. I hesitate, however, to consider it a ‘bar’.

Hey it’s Miller time! What say we go knock back a few brewskis after work…want meet up at Chuck E Cheese?:smiley:

I should be able to hear everyone at a six-person table who is speaking at a normal conversation volume. At a normal restaurant, not a sports bar. I think restaurants have gotten louder but I’m not exactly taking measurements.

I don’t tend to go to sports bars - I tend to boycott any restaurant where I can see a TV.

But a lot of restaurants are too loud. And we’ve started editing our dining for it. If we can’t go during off hours when its quieter, we choose a quieter restaurant (there are still a few). I went with a friend to a place where we both love the food - and we spend so much time shouting at each other that as soon as we ate, we left, and had drinks and dessert down the street at a much quieter place - and we won’t be returning during prime time - its too “hip” for us.

Dining out is about socializing. If I can’t talk to the people I’m dining with, I can cook at home or order takeout.


It’s not just the volume, it’s often the choice of music, too.

One time I stopped in at a little diner in Pennsylvania to get a coffee and a sandwich or something. There were like a half dozen other customers, all elderly people, two waitresses, both in their 60s I would guess, and one guy in the back manning the kitchen, a white guy also likely in his 60s. They were BLASTING what I assume was Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus or whatever the fuck. I asked one of the waitresses, “Do you even like this music?” Her reply was something to the effect of, “I prefer Patsy Cline.” “Then would you mind turning this off or putting on something else?” I asked. She looked at me like that had never even occurred to her. She winked at me and a few minutes later the music was completely off.

I’ve tried this in other places since then, but that’s still the only time I’ve been able to get the terrible music turned down, or off.

I’m curious about the demographics of loud restaurants vs quiet ones. I suspect that loud restaurants are in part driven by customers who want a nightclub/restaurant hybrid that looks like an iPod. It would also line up with the demographics of restaurant workers.

There have been cases of brawls erupting at CECs. Beer is highly suspected as a factor.

Chuck E Cheese has been running ads about their new menu, meant to be more appealing to mothers and other adults.

Perhaps it’s too loud in here for you to hear what others have said? Have the OP repeat themselves a little louder for you. :wink:

I’ll be honest; I don’t follow every hyperlink people include in posts.

Last year I stepped into a Tilted Kilt pub with a friend just to see what the fuss was about. It was literally the loudest place I have ever been in, the entire place was blaring at full blast some hip-hop song and we literally had to get the waitress as close as possible to take our orders since everything was so loud. It was impossible to have an actual conversation with the person next to you it was so loud.

That’s what Dave & Busters is for…

A few months ago, I spent a few days at a casino near Memphis. It was mid week, mid morning, and the music was extremely loud, and they were playing some of the worst modern music.

I might have been the youngest person on the gaming floor at age 57. Who in the hell did TPTB think they were catering to?

I can understand their music choice if it were 11 pm, on Friday or Saturday night. But it was 10:30 am on a Wednesday, in mid September.