Why Restaurants Are Noisy

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The Washington Post goes on an on about this number one customer complaint.

As a longtime barroom entertainer, as well as a supplier of attractive (not noisy) restaurant background music, I suggest two causes for the noise that the Post leaves unmentioned:

First, the restaurant wants to turn the tables over quickly. Since the DUI/DWI crackdown in the mid-eighties, few patrons linger over a second or (burp!) third adult beverage – the profit-maker — so the management wants that seat emptied and refilled as quickly as possible.

In fact, some trendy restaurants actually turn UP the volume when it’s crowded, literally to drive out the slowpokes and turn over the tables to new patrons. Some systems do it automatically (the longer the waiting line, the louder the music), and the manager has no control over the volume. Witness the Hard Luck Cafe syndrome: they make four times the profit on the T-shirt as they do on the hamburger. Hence, note the much quieter atmosphere in the T-shirt shop.

Second, these days “hooking up” is even easier than getting arrested for DUI. Add to that the low intellectual level of conversations (enter Tom Wolfe), along with the speed of the hook-up (getting to third base means “what’s your name?”), and you don’t want an ambiance that encourages endless dissecting of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche.

11:24 am on April 7, 2008