Let’s face it; restaurants are loud! There is a good chance that the last time you ordered your favorite burger and fries you probably raised your voice a time or two as well. Excessive noise levels in restaurants is a primary concern for owners, patrons, and employees. The noise is drawing the attention of nationally known reviewers who are including a loudness rating in their restaurant reviews. According to research, long or frequent exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Since the sound level frequently hits this mark in restaurants, there is much concern. However, eateries are now taking note and there a few things you can do too!
Does your favorite restaurant have a high ceiling? Numerous hard surfaces? Tables crowded together? What about loud conversations? Mix these aspects, and you have one noisy dilemma on your hands. Modern style is contributing to the noise problem. Raw materials, high ceilings, exposed pipes and open dining rooms are pushing the volume up. Specific modern cooking techniques are also contributing to the excess noise, and loud voices seem to be everywhere these days.
In April of 2018, a survey found noise levels in restaurants to equal that of an alarm clock or heavy traffic. The top three loudest places maintain noise levels much like standing near the siren of an emergency vehicle! The ringing in your ears that you experience upon leaving the restaurant is an indicator of excessive noise exposure, and it is dangerous for your hearing health.
There are steps that you, as a restaurant patron can take to make your dining experience a little more pleasant. Here are a few:
Remember to check out a restaurant’s loudness rating before you go. Use common sense; if you have to raise your voice for people at your table to hear you, then the eatery is probably too loud!
Restaurant owners can also take steps to quiet their establishments. The strategic placement of noisy machinery such as ice machines is a good start. Consider an ice machine with a roof-mounted condenser which is quieter than traditional units. Carpet in high-traffic areas can reduce footstep noise around entry areas or restrooms. Does your restaurant have several windows? Glass reflects sound so think about hanging textured wall coverings or window treatments. Try to stick with techniques that will reduce the noise while maintaining aesthetic appeal.
Eating out can be pleasant again. Plan and check noise levels at your favorite haunts. Take measures to protect your hearing if you find yourself in a loud eating place. If you own a restaurant, consider possible changes to your business that can aid in the reduction of excessive noise. Your customers and their ears will appreciate you!