Dining out is a sensory experience that involves more than simply the food. You may be aware that one of your senses (hearing) plays a significant role in leaving a restaurant feeling angry or worn out, but it may be more than you realize. Knowing how acoustics will affect the experience is a good idea whether you're a food enthusiast, a restaurant owner, or an architect working on a project for a restaurant.
The majority of restaurants have a substantial noise issue that is harming patrons, workers, and ultimately the company. Whether it is due to the Lombard effect or other factors, loudness was the top complaint among the 13,000 American diners who participated in the 2018 Zagat Survey in the United States. More than service or even crowds.
We are aware that noise exposure affects our hearing, our emotions, and potentially our long-term health, but for restaurants who want their patrons to come back and recommend them, this should be cause for concern. This may come as a surprise but it turns out… noise also impacts flavor.
The sweetness, saltiness, and general appeal of the meal improves in calmer situations (45-55dB), but it decreases noticeably in noisier contexts, according to Charles Spence's research. Acoustics should be as essential as the food.
"A soup might be delicious or not, but you can't answer this by knowing the temperature of the soup. It is the same with restaurant soundscapes. you need a lot more information than just noise level" - Genuit (President and founder of German sound engineering firm Head Acoustics)
The acoustics are essential to success whether you're running your own restaurant or developing and remodeling a facility. Customers already make acoustics a factor in their restaurant choices. You can even check out Tom Sietsema’s “Noise Ratings” for restaurants. Tom is a food critic with the Washington post, but he understands the impact noise levels have on food and on health.
Since many of us choose not to eat at certain restaurants or bars if the noise level is too high to enjoy the cooking and company, having good acoustics is becoming more and more crucial.
Check out this article in Forbes to learn more about how acoustics are impacting restaurants.