My dinner at No. 246 might have been fine, but I was so assaulted by the overwhelming noise, it might as well have been a dog poop sandwich. Since audial terrorism isn't one of my preferred dining experiences, I wont go back.
People like to blame such complaints on the diminishing hearing of Baby Boomers, but it's absolutely true that contemporary restaurants are growing noisier. It's mainly because of the design shift to hard surfaces and loft-like proportions, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal last year. Open kitchens and the increasing use of DJs add to the fracas.
Says the Journal:
Many of the most cutting-edge, design conscious restaurants are introducing a new level of noise to today's already voluble restaurant scene. The new noisemakers: Restaurants housed in cavernous spaces with wood floors, linen-free tables, high ceilings and lots of windows—all of which cause sound to ricochet around what are essentially hard-surfaced echo chambers.
Upscale restaurants have done away with carpeting, heavy curtains, tablecloths, and plush banquettes gradually over the decade, and then at a faster pace during the recession, saying such touches telegraph a fine-dining message out of sync with today's cost-conscious, informal diner. Those features, though, were also sound absorbing.
Even as restaurants are ditching style elements that squelch sound, they are bringing in more sources of noise: Open kitchens, lively bar scenes and disc jockeys and iPods programmed with the latest rock music. Loud music can make diners talk louder—which ups the volume even more.
The article goes on to interview acoustical engineers about (often expensive) solutions. There's an interactive graphic that features a restaurant that looks like many of Atlanta's newest and noisiest.
All of that said, it's also true, as I reported last year, that it's not at all unusual for restaurants to purposely crank up their volume because of the effect on diners' spending habits.
In the meantime, as I recently wrote, a great solution is to text your dinner companions. Who needs hearing or speech? Just insert some earplugs and let your fingers do the talking.
KILL IT!! Love you guys!
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