Raising your voice at a restaurant is becoming as common as leaving a tip. It’s a trend that some customers, generally older ones, find frustrating. Noise ranked No. 1 in a Zagat survey last month of diners’ pet peeves, with 27 percent calling it their biggest complaint.
For some restaurants, though, loud music is part of the ambience — and they aren’t inclined to lower the volume. Some of the noise is fueled by trendy design: open kitchens, cement floors and high ceilings.
“Loud restaurants equate to successful restaurants,” said Tom Galvin, a Winter Garden, Fla., restaurant designer.
There often seems to be an age divide on the subject of noisy restaurants.
“Younger generations are looking at the noise as energy,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at restaurant research firm Technomic. “Older generations are looking at it as an annoyance.”
In a NPD Group survey last year of diners 48 and older, almost half said they would visit full-service restaurants more if the eateries would turn down the volume a notch.
Some restaurants have special attractions that are inherently noisy. Taverna Opa in Orlando is known for its sometimes-loud live entertainment, which includes belly dancers.
“The reason why you do come to the restaurant is the loudness of the restaurant and the entertainment and dancing and having fun,” said Katerina Coumbaros, Taverna Opa’s owner.
In general, Tristano said, diners shouldn’t expect restaurants to quiet down.
“I don’t know that restaurants are deeply concerned over it,” Tristano said.