Restaurant noise “wins” top place
Well, restaurant noise takes the top prize again. According to the 2018 Zagat Dining Survey, covering more than 15,000 restaurants across the United States, noise is the most common complaint about restaurants.
In other words, restaurant goers complain most about difficulty hearing in noisy restaurants, even if they have normal hearing.
Noise has always been in the running for the top prize for complaints about restaurants. The other competitor for first place is poor service.
Has the world gotten noisier?
Along with movies, television shows and the world in general, restaurants have become noisier than ever. The background noise includes loud music, the clatter of silverware and dishes, and more recently, televisions sets in the dining area. Another major source of interference is the voices of other diners who talk louder because they can’t hear each other!
There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the annoying effects of noisy restaurants. The most obvious — but not always possible step — is to avoid them. A University of California study found that noise levels in all but “elegant” restaurants are loud enough to interfere whether or not you have a hearing loss.
Some restaurant reviews now include at least a general description of noise atmosphere. For example, the restaurant review site Yelp will describe whether the noise level in a specific restaurant is quiet, average, or loud.
Put yourself in charge
You can also take your own noise level measurements (yes, there’s an app for that!). The app Soundprint allows anyone with a smartphone to measure restaurant noise levels. The results can be submitted to Soundprint to share with other restaurant goers. You can also use Soundprint’s website to find the locations of quiet restaurants in your area.
What else can you do?
Choose your location. Ask to be seated in a quiet area, away from the kitchen entrance, service areas, or large groups. And it’s usually best to sit with your back lo the wall so your server can’t talk from behind you and noise from behind is kept to a minimum.
Limit the she of your group. Dining with two or three others is much easier than dining with a large group.
Order from the menu. Or ask to see a written list of any specials. It can be very challenging to understand when the waiter or waitress quickly presents a long list of specialty items.
Turn it down. If loud music is playing, ask the manager or server if the music can be turned down. As often as not, other diners will thank you.
We hope these suggestions make dining out more enjoyable for you. And when you find that a restaurant is just too noisy, remember, you’re not alone!