Acoustics in restaurants

Acoustic in restaurants.  Is it more important than food & service?

Consumer 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 an atmosphere with a unique identity.   There focus is mainly on the menu, quality of food, service, decor, location and target clientele.  Acoustics and noise control only becomes a consideration when there is a problem.

Large glass facades, hard floors, reflective walls, ceilings and bare tables is the current trend today.  The minimalistic open plan decor allows for sound to reflect off many hard surfaces resulting in a buildup of noise due to a sustained reverberant field.

When a restaurant becomes busier and more people try to communicate the noise levels increase.  To compensate diners begin to raise their voices in order to be heard.  This is referred to as the Lombard Effect.

Whilst noise conveys a sense of energy and creates a vibrant atmosphere the effort and concentration required to communicate leaves one feeling exhausted and mentally fatigued.

This could result in diners leaving without dessert or coffee and repeat business becoming more difficult to attain.  Poor acoustics can have financial implications on restaurants and not the quality of the food or service.  The experience is often the deciding factor as to whether patrons frequent a restaurant.