Restaurant noise in the news

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I became a noise activist because I have tinnitus and hyperacusis and find loud restaurants unpleasant, so it was gratifying to see these two articles about restaurant noise. One is about restaurant noise in Austin, Texas, and the other more broadly reports about a study on restaurant noise sponsored by hearing aid manufacturer Oticon.

Both articles point out that the noise levels in many restaurants are loud enough to cause hearing loss, and that restaurant patrons have difficulty conversing due to the high ambient noise levels.

What the articles don’t mention is that restaurant noise is a major problem for older Americans, half of whom have hearing loss.

As long as the restaurants are busy, I don’t think they will voluntarily bother to make themselves quieter. As with smoke-free restaurants, this is something that will require enough voters complaining often enough to their elected officials to get regulations requiring quieter restaurants. Until that happens, speak up. If you go to a restaurant that is too loud, ask the manager or wait staff to lower it. If they won’t, leave.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association, is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America.

Comments (2)

  1. Jeff Hartson

    Great information. Thank You. As a Traumatic Brain Injury support group facilitator, I often hear of problems such as this. When I want to take a group to a restaurant for a get together, I check out the establishment prior to the meeting and often ask when is it the least crowded or where is the quietest part to sit. For the most part I have had good support from the restaurant owner. And then there are those that I simply won’t even set a foot into. Restaurants where there is the constant sound of clanging coffee cups and dishes are flat out deal breakers.

    1. GMB (Post author)

      We want to believe that things will improve. The recent spate of articles about restaurant noise certainly should make restarateurs aware that there are potential customers out there who will visit if the soundscape is appropriate. If you ever take a group to a restaurant in New York City, visit our sister site, Quiet City Maps for reviews of NYC restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc.


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