Restaurant Reverb – How Do You Fix a Noisy Restaurant?


Last week, I met with the owner of a new restaurant along with the architect who designed the place.  They have been getting complaints about how unbearably loud the place is.  If I had a dime for every time someone has told me about a noisy restaurant that really needs our help, I would have tens of dollars by now…

The architect said that the original design had included acoustical drywall on the ceiling, but that it was “value engineered” out of the project.  Well, that’s a good thing.  Acoustic drywall would not have helped this situation at all. 

There was not a single absorptive surface in the entire restaurant. We need to add absorption to about 30% of the interior surface area to get the problem under control.  That’s a difficult task, especially now that construction is complete. Ceiling and wall fixtures are in place, and the restaurant is open for business.  Fortunately, we are used to working under these conditions. 


Once we had a chance to talk about how the proposed solution would work, the architect asked a peculiar question.  “How much quieter will it be afterwards?”, he said.  The answer to that question is more than comparing before and after db readings.  When we remediate a reverberation problem, we are really manipulating how people in the room behave just as much as how the room reacts to the noise. When people have to compete with other people talking in a space, it gets loud.  Our approach is to minimize the reflections in a space and thereby reduce the need to compete.  A loud voice in the room will still be loud, but the overall noise level always drops dramatically.

We rarely go to a restaurant alone.  We usually go with friends or family.  We do this so that we have some company and to communicate.  Since everyone does this, it can make the restaurant noisy if you don’t plan ahead. It may seem to make sense to eliminate the cost of the acoustical package during the construction budgeting phase of a project, but nothing will effect the experience of the space more than proper acoustic design.

So, here’s the thing… Talk with us before you build!