Noise is the #1 complaint according to the latest Zagat survey. To solve these issues we must identify what is going on in these acoustically challenged spaces. When you combine the sound generated by a music system, patrons trying to converse, staff communicating, and even ambient kitchen noise, it builds up and reaches a point where the energy in the room is no longer able to be absorbed or dissipated. Moreover, design trends have evolved towards very open spaces (high ceilings) with hard surfaces (wood, metal, stone, tile, glass) which are very reflective of sound. The wide variety of sound bouncing off these reflective surfaces increases the baseline volume causing people to talk louder. The increased noise (noise floor) causes the music to be turned up and this cycle is repeated resulting in a high volume, unintelligible mass of noise.
In order to resolve the excess noise inherent in many restaurants, owners should incorporate acoustically absorbent materials into the restaurant; either as part of the initial design,
or as an aftermarket addition. In the design phase, acoustic panels can be strategically placed within the ceiling structure or on walls and incorporated into the design of the space.
Some restaurant owners are hesitant to address the acoustics or noise problem in their restaurants believing the cost to be prohibitive. While a concert hall or top-end recording studio
might see material costs reach $50,000 to $100,000, the same is simply not true for most restaurants. In fact, most restaurants can be acoustically ‘repaired’ for between $2500 and $10,000
depending on the size.