Can’t Hear Yourself Drink? You’re Not Alone
If it seems like restaurants are getting louder, you may be right. Adding to noise levels are design trends, like use of concrete and glass, exposed ceilings and hard surfaces instead of sound-absorbing drapes and tablecloths. Background music makes conversation difficult. Even worse, the added noise may be intentional ploys to make more money.
“Research shows that loud music leads to faster eating, more drinking, less conversation and quicker turnover,” says Sherilyn Adler of the Ear Peace Foundation. “Owners are in a position to decide which is more important: hearing health of patrons and employees, or financial profit?” she asks.
The nonprofit foundation is collecting data about sound levels in restaurants to find out how widespread the problem is, and work toward reducing noise-induced hearing loss, which is “progressive, permanent, not curable … but 100 percent preventable,” she says. “This is like wearing seat belts, bike helmets or sunscreen. We’re not looking for the bad guy. We want to educate the public.” You can take the anonymous restaurant survey here.