Restaurant noise is discrimination



I’ve been in washrooms with their own different music and just ridiculously unnecessarily loud. Go back out and the other music is not loud and nor is the room. Go figure.

Discrimination?..go elsewhere. Is it discrimination for music lovers to not have music playing while they eat? Or… gasp…country music? :slight_smile:

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That answer doesn’t fly in civilised countries.



It is virtually impossible for restaurants to control the noise every minute of every hour… And I have to ask, is that even a world I’d want to live in? Where any table having a good time is asked to tone it down or leave. However, I do believe there should be some more stringent acoustics requirements … Like how many people can be squeezed tightly together, how the space is designed to reduce noise, etc…



One option is requiring accessible restaurants to have a dedicated quiet area for those who request it.



I’d agree with that to an extent, but not acknowledging or exacerbating the issue on purpose is another matter in terms of this and other disabilities.

If you just use the ‘go elsewhere’ argument for wheelchair access, it precludes a significant number of customers who have the right to access your services. In the UK you can be fined under the Disability Discrimination Act for such a stance.

I accept currently we aren’t in the same position with challenges to hearing; but legally the distinction is marginal.



I think the strategy in restaurants or large coffee establishments is to turn over customers with loudish or loud music. I feel bad for the servers. Discrimination not withstanding.

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I have just gotten up and walked out. With the waitress saying something from behind me I couldn’t even come close to understanding. My aids are very good at speech in noise, but when they start shutting down the volume I know it is really too loud for even my friends and family to be there.



I refuse to go to restaurants that have no, or poor, parking arrangements. I don’t care how good their food is. If they don’t have a spot next to the restaurant to park, I just don’t go. There is no shortage of good restaurants that have good parking.

Now that I wear hearing aids, I am finding something similar. If the restaurant insists on blasting customers with loud music, I just don’t go there.



Agreed. I prefer not to have pounding loud music when out eating with family and friends. It’s struggle enough as it is with our less than ideal hearing.
But I can also discriminate with my wallet. I’m not going to start a human rights case over it though. I’ll just leave. Or not go back to that establishment. And ask those friends and family not to either.
Is that discrimination?

The wheelchair argument is not the same. If a wheelchair-bound person can’t so much as get into your business to give you their money for goods and services then that’s a poor business decision let alone any regulations. I could choose to suffer the loud music…or not be there. The loud music doesn’t bar me from being there.



I live in the Hot Springs Arkansas area, and when I look at restaurant reviews for almost any where in the area it also rates noise levels. I believe that is because there are so many retired people in this area.



That’s an excellent option and with “baby boomers” in full bloom you would think restaurants would would look into dedicated quiet areas. It took a long while though to get all restaurants to go “non-smoking”, so I’m not holding my breath that local restaurants will be forced offer quiet eating areas. Guess the only answer is “early bird specials”.



The story to which you linked in WaPo started by telling the story of an event that planned in advance and required effort to bring everyone together.

In such a case, and when the primary draw to the restaurant is the food (ie. It’s not a music club or advertised as the loudest place in town), I can think of many relatively simple accommodations that could be made.

The front staff know the room. If a diner making a reservation says that someone in their group has hearing loss and they would like to be seated in a quieter area, that shouldn’t be an issue.

If we think of the excess noise as smoke, then tastefully installed acoustic dampeners deep in a quiet section could help the same way air filter machines can help reduce ambient smoke in the immediate environment. [NB: this is meant as an analogy - I’m not suggesting putting additional noise producing devices j a quiet area.]

If a boisterous group wants a table and the only table is in the quiet section, they could be told that they can be seated but it would be in the quiet section, so normal conversation is fine but they would need to be mindful of others who require less noise.

Some hearing aids can identify a constant level of background noise. Would adding mild white noise help reduce the relative effect of the hearing in noise difficulty? (Assuming the individual wears hearing aids.)

I wear open domes. I don’t expect a restaurant to spend gobs if money so I can hear better, but thoughtfulness would be greatly appreciated, especially if the matter of hearing difficulty was specifically mentioned when making the reservation.

There are people who CAN’T go to a loud place. If a work event is held at a loud place, what are they to do?

I think what I’m suggesting are reasonable accommodations per the ADA-AA. However, such accommodations will only be made if brought to the attention of the industry. The article suggests that the courts are not very effective at this yet.

Hopefully simple changes and increased awareness can help.

I don’t expect restaurants to make unreasonable accommodations but asking for reasonable ones should be such a production, either.



It is common practice for restaurants to change the type of music as well as the volume to encourage casual diners to surrender their table. If you go to dine early, you can hear when the music program changes. It is obvious to anyone who chooses to pay attention. When I an dining out, I frequently ask for the music to be turned down. If for some reason, my request is not accomodated, I ask for the manager.

Since I write frequent reviews on Yelp as well as other public platforms, my opinion has an impact. My reviews include time, place and manager’s name and response to my request. The majority of my meals are dined out and I make that fact known.

When there are screaming kids, if management will not move them, I insist they move my party. If another table is not available, we leave. If foodhas already been ordered, I guess that is the price poor restaurant managers must pay. I make certain that they understand I do not intend to reward their poor business model. A phone recorder helps if the problem escalates.



Design changes over the last 40 or so tears have made restaurants louder and the owners view this as a positive thing.

That’s because loud restaurants are more profitable.

According to Pearlman, the haute-casual dining trend also helps restaurateurs run bigger and more successful businesses. Constructing interiors out of hard surfaces makes them easier (and thus cheaper) to clean. Eschewing ornate decor, linens, table settings, and dishware makes for fewer items to wash or replace. Reducing table service means fewer employees and thus lower overhead. And as many writers have noted, loud restaurants also encourage profitable dining behavior. Noise encourages increased alcohol consumption and produces faster diner turnover. More people drinking more booze produces more revenue. Knowing this, some restaurateurs even make their establishments louder than necessary in an attempt to maximize profits.

How Restaurants Got So Loud

With modern acoustic design there are things that can be done, but that would cost money, both upfront and apparently operationally. So until a lot more of us walk out, and let management know why, they aren’t going to change.



I had a business meeting in a very noisy restaurant back just after getting my first hearing aids and I carried my noise canceling headphones with me and used them. I was asked to remove them and said I would after the loud music and other loud noise was removed. My manager heard me tell the restaurant manager that and agreed with me. We never went back there for our weekly lunch meeting. And by the way they turned up the volume on the music that day. There was 15 of us that met there for meetings we all worked from home and had no office in the area to meet at.

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That is a great example of lost revenue. I guess they showed you.

Incredible how shortsighted some restaurant managers are. Thanks for sharing.



Many years ago my wife and I owned a small Mom & Pop cafe. Our business was coffee shop, breakfast and lunch. I laugh when I hear your comments. It is a struggle just to survive and stay in business. The customers set the loudness level by their conversation and density. If you want quiet, just find the right place and time for you. Once the mealtime rush occurs it will not be quiet.




However it is also the case that most businesses (not just restaurants) do not seem to even spare a moment of thought for the impact of acoustics when they are building and decorating their spaces. Hence open concept offices.

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A lot of it has to do with the acoustics of the room too. I think the WaPo has an article on this as well. New styles are sparse interior with hard surfaces and little to no dampening with softer materials. Some restaurants I’ve been to have hired acoustic engineers to help out, especially near the ceiling. Those place were in the Palm Springs, CA USA area.