How Did Restaurants Get So Loud?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and immediately wanted to leave because it was so loud? Or you had a problem hearing the waiter? It's not your imagination- restaurants have been getting demonstrably louder over the past couple of decades. Changes in architecture, decor, and management have contributed to noise levels reaching the range that can damage your hearing. Some of the increase is on purpose, as proprietors want to create an ambiance of "buzz" and "energy," so they crank the music up. That only forces people to talk louder. Vox gives us five reasons restaurants are so noisy, and tips on what we can do it about it.

(Image credit: Flickr user Kyle Mahan)


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I have always assumed that it was on purpose - - I read a study about eating habits recently that showed that people eat faster and eat more in a loud, distracting environment. The difference was not tiny either - - made a huge difference in both amount and speed of consumption. The authors theorized that the noise and distraction caused people to pay less attention and have less awareness of internal feedback about how hungry or how full you really are.
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This is one of my pet peeves. The acoustics are so bad in some restaurants, the sound is amplified just by the walls, bare floor, and even the tables. Not my idea of a good time.
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Went to breakfast a new Le Peep today. Besides the muzak being way loud. The 75 year old couple next to me played rap music as soon as their coffee order was in. I moved tables and the staff laughed for an hour.
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The loudest restaurant I've been to was The Cheesecake Factory. It was full of people chatting, and the acoustics were terrible - all those hard surfaces bounced the sounds right into my ear drums!
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Anyone ever been to a Joe's Crab Shack? The music is extremely loud and geared toward young people. We once asked that the volume be lowered, and this during an off-hour. They refused and so we left for another venue. Haven't been back since.

I'm so old that I remember when fine dining included soft piano music tinkling throughout the restaurant.
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