Does it seem to you that some of the hottest, hippest restaurants are also among the noisiest?
Well, diners are noticing it, and it’s starting to show up in restaurant reviews.
As noted in a story by Tiffany Hsu for the L.A. Times, many eateries have ditched the pile carpets, soft tablecloths and plush velvet booths for communal tables, open kitchens and loud thumping music—which get amplified by high ceilings and bare floors. Dinner conversation becomes difficult, if not impossible.
When planning an evening out, it’s good to know what you’re getting into, as far as the quality of the food, the service, and, yes, the noise level, too.
Restaurant raters have begun to include that info in their reviews. Yelp now lists noise levels at the top of its ratings. Open Table, a reservations service, lets reviewers rate eateries as “quiet,” “moderate,” or “energetic” (read: noisy).
Many national restaurant reviewers now include noise level as part of their reports. According to Zagat, one of the best known of these types of businesses, noise has become the second-biggest complaint among diners, right behind bad service. In Los Angeles, 18 percent of diners ranked noise as their top peeve last year, Hsu reports. That’s up from 12 percent in 2010.
Some restaurants are starting to respond to customer complaints by using sound-damping products, including some eco-friendly sound absorbers made from cork, recycled tires and wood. Ceilings are being lowered and quieter exhaust hoods are being installed in some of those open kitchens. Special soundproofing paint is being applied to walls.
Let’s face it, a happening, jumping, noisy atmosphere still draws a certain (mostly younger) crowd that actually seeks out that high-energy ambiance. Those places are still very popular.
It’s good to know that restaurant review services are now letting us know what our ears can expect, as well as our taste buds.
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