Restaurants are busy environments. Things are all happening at once: people talking, music playing, dishes and utensils clanging, the occasional sizzle from a frying pan, and 110 other things. Sounds have the potential to build and build and noise levels that are too loud don't allow guests to communicate with each other, let alone your staff. In turn, this affects their dining experience. Your front-of-house could be going above and beyond for tables in their section, but they shouldn't have to yell across the table to ask guests how they're doing.
However, on the other end of the spectrum is a quiet restaurant. Noise levels that are too quiet make things awkward for guests as they can hear everything you say ... and you can hear everything they say. Occasions where friends wish dine out to catch up, eating in complete silence isn't the ideal experience. When it comes to a restaurant's noise level, its key to have a balance of the right amount of hustle and bustle and music to create a more private, energetic, and fun atmosphere. It’s all about balance. Here’s 4 tips on how to create the perfect sound system for your restaurant.
Rather than trying to fit your environment for sound after construction, build with sound quality in mind. The result is better if you plan for it. A room with a poor acoustic foundation is hard to help.
Minimalism is a growing design trend. Sleek, hard surfaces like brick, stone, wood, metal, create a nice visual experience, but are awful for sound levels. Hard surfaces reflect the sound, whereas soft surfaces absorb it. To help your restaurant quiet down, try to mix fabric surfaces into your design elements.
The busiest room in the business is the kitchen. It has a lot of moving parts: staff and appliances included. It’s where the magic happens and where work gets done. Before making significant changes, consult your staff and brainstorm ways to minimize the sound while still maintaining their productivity in their work space.
Music has power; it’s not a secret that music affects mood. Choosing the right background music can boost the mood of both customers and staff, cause customers take longer to eat, or make customers increase their spending (and your revenue). The right music—tempo, genre, and volume—can not only affect the mood, but the behavior of customers.
The ideal sound level for normal conversations is between 58 - 65 dB. The loudest your restaurant should be is 85 dB. If you're not sure where your sound level lies, look into purchasing or renting a sound level meter to measure your noise level.
You can also determine if you’re succeeding on the sound-front simply by observing your customers. Are they leaning closely together each time they say something? Whispering for fear of being overheard? Reacting to sounds coming from the kitchen? Watch your customers, talk to your staff, and adjust where needed.
Finding the right balance of sound for your restaurant is extremely important when building the perfect atmosphere. People eat out to have fun, try new things, and socialize with friends. If they can’t talk, they won’t be happy.
“In the labor numbers, we were reporting about a $300 to $400 difference than what we were getting through Push!”
-Tara Hardie, ZZA Hospitality Group, 16 locations