SHOULD CUSTOMERS TAKE A BACK SEAT TO RESTAURANT PLAYLISTS?
As a frequent diner and lover of music, I can attest that a number of our city’s restaurants have excellent playlists. We’re talking song collections with depth and quality, curated thoughtfully with the end goal of enhancing the overall experience.
So what’s the problem?
Glad you asked. The thing is, while the music is perfectly suitable for restaurant play, the volume isn’t. It may not seem that way from behind the bar, but a lot of diners are struggling to converse. In extreme cases, they are unable to have conversations at all. And that is—undoubtedly—a problem.
It has me wondering; are restaurants aware there is an issue? If yes, and I think they probably know, I can’t help but ask, why nothing is being done?
Why do people choose to dine out in the first place? Aside from occasional laziness, most people are looking to share an evening (or afternoon) with friends, family, clients, or maybe even a date. You know, the important folks—people to not only share a meal with but a conversation. However you look at it, dining is a social activity, and customers should be able to chatter without working too hard.
It’s pretty evident to me, but perhaps this has been overlooked by others. Why else would anyone choose to overwhelm diners with sound?
Whatever the reason, this inattention has consequences. Diners are choosing to avoid certain establishments. Some are even starting to dine out less often—not a positive trend for the industry as a whole.
From my own experience, I have visited several otherwise brilliant restaurants in the past few years to which I will never return, mostly due to excessive volume. It was particularly bad during a more recent outing with my family. The volume was so high I gave up trying to speak at all. I ordered nothing and just waited, counting the minutes until we could leave. And I wasn’t alone in my experience. Since then, I have spoken with half a dozen others with similar stories. It will be interesting to see how that restaurant fares on the 50 Best for 2020. I’m guessing not so well, which is too bad.
That’s an extreme case, though. In most cases, the issue isn’t as severe. Most only need to turn the dial down a notch or two so customers can better enjoy their time together. It’s a simple fix, really.
Before I sign off, I should note that restaurants that have taken this issue seriously are reaping the benefits. Morris East on Vernon Street is a great example. Owner, Jennie Dobbs went the distance, installing sound-deadening and turning the volume down too. If you go there for brunch, lunch, or dinner, the only challenge is deciding between pizza and pasta—just as it should be.