A recent story in the LA Times (Take the Din out of Dinner) was close to my heart and stomach: the insanely high decibel level at so many restaurants. It’s gotten so bad that review sites like Yelp and Open Table have taken to rating noise levels. According to Zagat, noise has become the second biggest complaint after bad service. Sure, some restaurant goers feel that noise equates to excitement. And a lot has to do with the newer, open floor plans and hard surfaces favored by hipster designers. It would be one thing if we were all like the French, who barely whisper when dining. But we live in a cackle culture of people who like to drink and yell, frequently screeching the words “oh my god” at a pitch that could shatter glass. Even the younger clientele these restaurants are pursuing are beginning to push back on the cacophony.
I bring this to the attention of readers with the hope that some are purveyors of our area restaurants. You are losing business not because of poor service or food, but because it’s impossible to engage in a conversation without screaming. I’m not going to name names, but there are so many local restaurants plagued with this problem that I now find my restaurant selection severely narrowed by the caveat of good food and the ability to have a conversation. I hope that our restaurants will take heed of what so many LA restaurants are now doing to address the problem – retrofitting their spaces with sound dampening materials. There are many products available, including eco-friendly options created from cork, recycled tires and wood. We’ve worked hard to reduce unwanted noise in our ocean and streets. It’s time to do the same in our restaurants.
If any of you readers feel similarly, please weigh in. If there is a groundswell of complaints about this problem, then restauranteurs will take heed.