Do you ever feel like you have to yell at the person across the table at a restaurant?
Over the past few years, the noise levels at restaurants have increased sharply. Numerous factors contribute to this increase in sound, but have you ever thought of the design and layout of restaurants? Nowadays, restaurants are starting to get more industrial, rustic looks, compromising the environmental sound and ambiance.
The materials of the restaurants that give the industrial and rustic look do not absorb sounds and contribute to the already-loud noises at restaurants.
Oticon, one of the world’s largest and leading hearing aid manufacturers, did some research on loud restaurants. They found that “Chicago’s Siena Tavern captured the highest noise level of 138.2 decibels. Nashville’s The Distillery was second at 133.4 dB, while the noise in Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill measured 124.8” (Healthyhearing.com), keep in mind that the sound levels you would experience standing near an ambulance siren which would be about 120 dB. Normal conversations occur at about 60 decibels, so imagine how loud you have to speak in a room that is around 130 decibels.
As a result, many restaurant-goers have reported to have NIHL, noise-induced hearing loss, or tinnitus, ringing in the ears. According to AARP.com, an app, called SoundPrint, has been developed that allows individuals to take a decibel reading of the restaurant. The app averages the reading with other readings of the restaurant. This allows individuals who are sensitive to noise to have an estimate about the noise level prior to going to the restaurant.
Tips for When It’s Too Loud to Speak in Excessively Noisy Restaurants:
- Limit the size of your party: Keeping your party at a size amount helps manage the conversation. Going to eat at restaurants with a lot of people can get difficult because that means a larger table. And the larger the table, the farther away everyone is.
- Plan in advance for the night: Use an app to see if restaurants have noise complaints or loud music.
- Make a reservation and request a quiet spot: by doing this, you do not have to worry about waiting for the table that is in the quietest part of the restaurant.
- Take advantage of the cocktail hour or quiet time before dinner: if you like a restaurant but it is too noisy, try going during off-peak hours.
- Choose the right seat: If you cannot request a table in a quiet area, choose a seat that is not close to a speaker
- Tell your server you have a hearing loss: If you are having problems with your server, telling them you have a hearing loss can help. Both, you and server, will not get frustrated, and you will be able to effectively order your food.
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