City Desk

Give Me Noise

In Sunday's Post Magazine, Tom Sietsema wrote a cover story on the increasing noise problem in restaurants. The result is that he is going to include noise ratings along with his reviews. Personally, I don't get it. Here’s why:

1. Yes, there are loud, busy restaurants, and there are quiet, intimate restaurants. The ambience is already touched on in the review, so why do we need to know exact decibels?

2. How do you give a restaurant an average rating? Price range is easy to give, noise range is not. The noise level changes drastically depending on the night of the week, the hour of the night, the distance from the bar or a large group, etc. I don’t see how one can say a restaurant comes in as 70 decibels.

3. What in the world are restaurants supposed to do? They already are padding/cushioning/draping things all over the place, and it still doesn’t seem to be enough for people. Really, the “problem” is that D.C. is becoming a great place to dine. And restaurants are slammed. And people make noise. This reminds of my itty-bitty hometown in Pennsylvania. The older folks in town complained that kids had nothing to do and were getting into trouble. After a stroke of brilliance, they built a movie theater. Then they started to complain that kids were loitering on the square outside the movie theater. They shut the theater down.

I say welcome the crowds, welcome the noise, and if you want a quiet evening, cook dinner or order takeout from a nice restaurant.

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  • Jim

    I think Sietsema maybe wrote too much on the subject, but noise level is one of the determining factors as to whether I'll go, or go back, to certain restaurants. You're right about how to determine an average, though. Do you do it in the middle of a weekend rush dinner crowd or a weekday lunch crowd? I'll be interested to see how it's done.

  • John

    I agree that I like to know the noise level in restaurants. My partner has hearing issues and if a restaurant is too noisy, it really bothers him. What really annoys me about going to a nice restaurant now a days is that some people think that everyone in the place wants to hear their conversation, so then the next table has to talk louder and the whole place is full of squawking men and women (and women's voices are the WORST when they get loud!). What happened to polite dinner conversation and when did screaming at each other and laughing at all decibels replace it?

  • Jeff

    I actually think Sietsma's article was very informative and provocative, if not a bit long-winded on the subject. But that's OK, because no one is writing at ALL on noise in restaurants (including you) and it's good to have a little more detail to start out the converstion.
    In addition, your attacks on the Post seem to be numerous and increasingly petty. Accept your voice for what it is: an interesting complement to the Post, not a competitor to it.

  • Beto

    Personally I like loud restaurants. People dining in them usually are having a good time. But you are right Kim how is this accurately measured? Is he going to do all his reviews at 7pm on saturday night??? Tom is getting old and needs to be replaced.