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Are you a fan of noisy restaurants?


A recent Wall Street Journal article provided food for thought about the decibel levels in restaurants.
According to the article, in 2023, audio data from the app SoundPrint found that 63 percent of restaurants are too loud for conversation.
(Granted, this is a blessing in disguise if the conversation veers toward “SoundPrint? You told me your phone doesn’t have enough space for photos of my trip to the International Lint Museum, but you have room to download SoundPrint????”)
My father hated crowds, and I myself am not keen on venues where you can’t hear yourself think (unless what I’m thinking is “probably too many calories in that – better leave it alone.”)
According to an architect quoted in the article, focusing on the acoustics of a restaurant wasn’t even a “thing” until three or four years ago.
Now restaurants are paying heed to surfaces that absorb just the right amount of sound, well-designed curtains and upgraded sound systems. Yeah, you heard me (I hope): the Fisher-Price route for sound equipment isn’t cutting it anymore. (“The cow says, ‘Mooooo…if you order from the vegan menu, I can live another day.”)
Top-of-the-line equipment or not, it’s still important to have the songs on your playlist blend seamlessly into one another. It’s not conducive to repeat business if there’s just enough dead silence between power ballads to highlight the fact that a guest is confiding, “I’ll be back in a minute. I hope the Metamucil kicks in this time.”
Customers deal with eatery noise in different ways. Some phone ahead to gauge the sound level. Of course, this gives the manager an incentive to activate the “white noise” machine while conversing with such a proactive customer. (“I feel almost as decadent as our desserts. Bwahahaha…”)
Other people leave without being seated if the noise proves unbearable. My wife has been tempted to leave a restaurant mid-meal before – not because of the general background noise, but because a raucous local character made an appearance and started booming out his greetings to acquaintances. It’s ironic that people who are Larger Than Life make you want to choke every last drop of life out of them. But I digress.

I do not envy restaurateurs the task of achieving a “sweet spot” between a dining room that evokes funeral home vibes and one that registers on the Richter scale. Even if you have a mountain of data about night-by-night traffic or hour-by-hour activity, predicting the sounds of any given mealtime with 100 percent accuracy is asking too much.
For instance, Little Joey has been a perfect angel on his last dozen visits to the dining establishment. How can you prepare for the one time that a tipsy stranger staggers over to the table and says, “Lemme borrow that crayon, kid. Here, I’ll show you your share of the national debt”?
The waitstaff can grow accustomed to well-behaved service dogs; but unless they’re clairvoyant, how can they prepare for a diner with one of the more problematic service animals? (“This is Jake, my service screech owl. He was rescued from a bad environment, so he has his own service hyena. I’ve trained them to play bagpipes.”)
Good luck in your search for restaurants with just the right ambience.
Eat, drink and be merry.
No, I didn’t say, “Pete stinks because of dysentery.”
Is there an acoustic architect in the house?

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.