There is a very good restaurant near where I used to have an office. Excellent food, great service, and an attentive staff. Only been there twice, despite the convenience.
Why? The noise level is through the roof. You can’t have a conversation in normal tones sitting across the table with your group. The two times I’ve been there were both at someone else’s invitation. I’ve nixxed going there over a dozen times either for business or social meetings. Doesn’t much matter about the food or decor…
If you can’t have a normal conversation.
Designers have gotten into a modern style which, while attractive – does nothing to enhance the customer’s experience. If you are 20 something, and single – shouting over 300 other people shouting may be attractive. After all, a high level of noise can provide its own anonymity.
But if you are not in the “meat market” – sometimes the noise level can be quite painful, especially to baby-boomers who are now paying the price in hearing loss from loud music in their youth. And like it or not – its the baby boomers and businessmen who are dropping $200-300+ on a table for lunch or dinner.
A lot of times when travelling and just looking for a dinner outside of the Hotel kitchen, I will do a walk by. Typically there are a cluster of eateries near a major hotel. That walk by has grown to not only checking the menus and daily specials – but a quick look inside to assess the noise experience, since until only recently have a few of the restaurant ratings services begun to address the issue – despite the fact that it is the second leading complaint by diners after poor service. My feeling is that a place that doesn’t give a damn about diner comfort – is eventually (sooner rather than later) going to fail on the food quality issue.
You can count on the hippest restaurants to have dazzling menus, stylish servers and an attractive clientele.
And increasingly, there’s a featured side dish: noise.
As restaurateurs strive to attract a younger crowd, they’ve ditched the pile carpets, soft tablecloths and plush velvet booths for crowded communal tables, clattering open kitchens and pounding Rihanna music. And it’s all amplified by cavernous ceilings, spartan walls and bare floors.
The hustle and bustle is credited with bringing in more business, but it’s also creating a backlash.
Kristina Pivnyuk, 21, said she was hoping for an evening of fine food and good conversation when she ate recently with friends at Bottega Louie in downtown Los Angeles. She got only the meal.
“It kind of ruined the experience for me,” the Cal State Northridge student said, recalling the loud music and diners shouting to be heard over the din.
Restaurant raters have taken note.
Yelp has begun listing noise levels atop its ratings. OpenTable, a reservations service, allows reviewers to rate restaurants as “quiet,” “moderate” or “energetic.” Several national restaurant reviewers now factor sonic quality into their reports. The Rundown LA, which sends email blasts on local activities, provides noise ratings when it reviews eateries. Read the rest of this entry »