Are Restaurants Getting Noisier?
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There's always a buzz when it comes to the culinary world. But lately, the buzz seems to be happening inside restaurants -- in the form of noise-- and it's getting louder.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times did an unscientific sound check of 12 restaurants and bars in the area and found many with a decibel level akin to sitting next to a running lawn mower. No wonder diners (as well as restaurant critics) are saying, "Turn it down!"
Do Valley chefs and restaurateurs agree? I asked a few and this is what they had to say:
NO: Restaurants have gotten quieter, silent even, what with everyone texting each other instead of actually talking.
YES: This is our biggest gripe when we go out to eat. The problem is this: Most restaurants do not have carpet. Oddly enough, this was just a debate for us. Cartwright's was up for new carpet, and we were thinking about changing it up to wood floor. Everyone said, "No way, it's too noisy!"
MAYBE: Over the last five to eight years, I've seen an increase in urban- and industrial- style restaurants. That design inherently produces a noisier environment. It has to do with the physical design (materials like steel and bare flooring). That kind of environment gives people the permission to be a little more carefree in the volume of their conversation.
YES: As the dining scene becomes more casual, dining rooms become noticeably louder. Hard woods equal loud dining rooms. They are very beautiful to look at -- open ceilings, big giant bar tops and the fancy lighting -- but none of these capture any sound, they just reflect it off each other. Personally, I'm into it.
NO: I was at the American Institute for Food and Wine convention in New York and attended a seminar featuring top restaurant designers from all over the world. One of the questions was directed at a designer who had done a popular French brasserie in New York. He was asked why it was so noisy when the brasseries in Paris were not. He replied that the difference is not due to design, it's because New York brasseries are full of Americans! I guess we enjoy ourselves more here and show it.