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How Loud Is Too Loud for a Restaurant?

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
April 23, 2014

Who hasn’t eaten out only to feel hoarse by the end of the night?

Zagat’s 2014 restaurant survey determined that the number 1 problem irritating Boston diners was noise: The hubbub of a night out on the town was making Beantown residents bananas.

So The Boston Globe decided to paint the town…quiet.  Reporters dined at eight different restaurants, measuring decibels as they went.

They discovered decibel ratings that were largely between 66 and 86. To put that in real, noisy terms: 86 is about the sound of a lawnmower. Once the decibel reader jumped to 97, approximating the noise of a motorcycle. (Management at that restaurant told the Globe the noise was at a “desirable” level.)

Restaurateurs have been responding to unhappy online reviews by installing soundproofing, but that’s often after workers and diners have been exposed to levels above the 90 decibel rating recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Of course at some casual eateries, we wantside of Biggie with our burger and fries. And sometimes we want him to be pretty loud—all the better to dance in the booth. But it is darn frustrating to plunk down cold hard cash at a fine dining restaurant only to be unable to hear your date.

And how about you? How much noise is too much noise?

[The Boston Globe via Eater]