If you have experienced a loud restaurant before, you know how it feels and impacts your dining experience. However, you may have noticed more restaurants play loud music than ever. Is this just a coincidence, or is it deliberate?
Why Do Restaurants Play Loud Music?
1. Loud Music Makes the Restaurant Seem Lively
Unless the restaurant is empty, loud music can make it seem like the place is livelier than usual. For someone outside the restaurant, it can make it seem like the eatery is more exciting and energetic than one that is not as loud.
Since the 90s, restaurateurs have actively endorsed loud music to enhance the atmosphere of their restaurants and encourage more patrons to walk through their doors.
2. Loud Music Promotes Privacy
While some restaurants can amplify volume to the point where you have to yell to be heard by your tablemates, others play slightly loud music to maintain table privacy. The increased music volume means that other diners may not overhear your table conversations in the restaurant.
3. Loud Music May Lead to Quicker Turnover
At the expense of your dining experience, some restaurateurs intentionally play loud music at their establishments to encourage quicker table turnover. This way, the restauranters can maximize the number of people dine in on a given evening.
Naturally, more diners mean more sales and profits for the restaurant. However, it isn’t clear how loud music results in faster turnover. It could be that you eat faster to escape your unpleasant, noisy environment, or it could be that the combination of loud and upbeat music encourages you to chew and move faster.
A study from Fairfield University concluded that the number of bites increased among participants who listened to music while eating and further increased when listening to upbeat or fast-tempo music.
However, the study showed no significant impact on the total time of the meal, which leaves some uncertainty about the premise of loud music increasing table turnover. Still, the concept is popular in the restaurant industry, which means there could be some weight to it.
We know restaurants play loud music to enhance the atmosphere, maintain privacy, or encourage faster table turnover. Still, these aren’t the only reasons restaurant music is getting louder than before.
For example, some restaurants play their music at the same volume as always, but a shift to modern minimalist or urban decor may be to blame. High ceilings, wood floors, concrete, and tile reverberate sounds more than carpets and tapestries, making it seem like the place is louder than before.
Other restaurants, like those inside former churches, will always remain loud when more people are inside due to poor acoustics. Improving acoustics is quite costly and not viable for most restaurants.
Your best option to avoid loud music is to ask for it to be turned down. Alternatively, you could request a quitter table, avoid peak dining hours, complain, or download a decibel reading app on your phone and share the readings on social platforms.