Restaurant Acoustics – is it more important than the food and service?

Consumer report surveys have found that excessive noise is the top complaint diners have, ahead of service, crowds, or even food issues.

Coffee shops and restaurants strive to create a unique atmosphere with a unique identity, the focus being on food, space, location and target clientele. Acoustics and noise control might only be a consideration when the restaurant is completed…..if at all.

The trend today is aimed towards minimalistic open plan decor with large glass facades, hard floors, walls, ceilings and bare tables. Acoustically this design is poor as it allows for sound to reflect off hard surfaces resulting in a buildup of noise due to a sustained reverberant field. Noise levels keep rising as communication becomes more difficult and customers feel the need to speak louder and louder to be heard. This is referred to as the Lombard Effect.

As a restaurant, the quality of the food and the experience will be the deciding factor as to whether patrons frequent your restaurant.

Whilst sound conveys a sense of energy and creates a vibrant atmosphere the effort and concentration required to communicate leaves patrons feeling worn down and mentally fatigued.

This results in patrons leaving without dessert or coffee and repeat business becoming more difficult to attain. At this point, the acoustics has had financial implications on the restaurant and not the quality of the food or the service.