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10 Ways to Improve the Acoustics in Your Restaurant

A certain amount of noise in restaurants is inevitable: your patrons chattering, background music blaring from your sound system, chairs moving across your floor, and silverware clanging on plates. But just a little beyond the acceptable noise levels in a restaurant, you could find yourself straining to hear what your companions are saying. It’s also frustrating to speak louder just to be heard, making you feel drained and exhausted.

Factors Increasing Restaurant Noise

There are several factors to blame for the increase in restaurant noise. Design choices like open spaces, tall ceilings, and larger rooms amplify the sound volume. Hard surfaces such as brick walls, bare table surfaces, and marble countertops reflect sound, making the noise stay within an area. The trend of having open kitchens also contributes to the increase in restaurants’ noise levels.

Why Improve Restaurant Acoustics

While restaurants can be bustling, heightened energy and noise levels can be off-putting and can turn off guests who were considering dining at your venue. You don’t want your patrons to feel lost in their conversations and not be able to connect with their companions because of the babble. A loud environment can also encourage customers to eat and drink faster, impacting your table turn rates and revenue.

Improve your restaurant’s acoustics to make your space more enjoyable and relaxing for your patrons and a less stressful work environment for your staff. Better acoustics improve communication between your guests and employees, resulting in fewer mistakes with orders and lower food waste. A decrease in noise levels also improves the performance of your background music system, creating a better ambience that may attract higher-wage clientele.

How to Improve Restaurant Acoustics

Decreasing noise levels in your restaurant doesn’t have to be costly. You can include improving the acoustics in your considerations when renovating your restaurant. If remodelling your food and beverage venue isn’t due anytime soon, there are simple ways you can do to decrease restaurant noise. Here are 10 ways to improve restaurant acoustics:

  1. Keep Your Music in the Background
    Background music should be kept in the background. While carefully chosen music played at a pleasing volume can contribute positively to your restaurant’s ambience, it can make the environment distracting and uncomfortable when too loud. Keep the volume low to give some room for your patrons to chat without having to yell over the music. If someone complains about the music, reduce the volume immediately to make sure their dining experience is a delight.
  2. Soundproof Your Furniture
    The sound of table and leg chairs scraping and screeching against your restaurant floor can send shivers down your patrons’ spines. Avoid this unpleasant experience by soundproofing your furniture. Put fuzzy floor protector pads or rubber caps on the bottoms of your table and chair legs. This also protects your floor from scratches and other possible damages.
  3. Check Furnishings and Fittings
    Pay attention to your furnishings, fittings, and decor as they also affect how sound is absorbed in a room. Choose soft materials to make your restaurant less echoey. Make use of curtains, carpeting, area rugs, and tablecloths for good acoustics in your restaurant. Curtains help absorb and soften noise so make sure to hang them over glass windows that reflect sound. Carpeting or rugs can soften the sound of people moving about your venue, especially in high-traffic areas like the reception area and near restrooms. Tablecloths reduce the clattering sound of silverware and glassware on tables. You can also combine booths with soft materials as they add variation in height, helping to balance out your restaurant’s acoustics.
  4. Keep Loud Machinery Away
    Don’t place loud machinery such as ice machines, soda dispensers, espresso machines, and other equipment near the dining areas. Loud machinery contributes a lot to the overall noise levels of any restaurant. Relocate these machines and stations away from your patrons and keep them near walls and ceilings with sound-absorbing properties.
  5. Block Kitchen Noise
    Create a barrier between your main dining areas and the kitchen noise. Soundproof your kitchen doors and keep them closed when your staff is at work to muffle loud sounds. If you have an open kitchen, it will be more challenging to separate the noise from your patrons. You can close it off with glass panes which keep the visual effect of an open kitchen while blocking out the noise. It is also ideal to consult a commercial kitchen designer to get the best ideas on how to improve your kitchen and its effect on your restaurant’s acoustics.
  6. Add Noise-Absorbing Elements
    Your restaurant’s walls and ceilings may be largely contributing to amplifying sound, but you can turn this around by making them absorb the noise instead. Install sound-absorbing tiles or soundproof panels to prevent noise from bouncing from wall to wall. To avoid major renovations, you can install sound absorbers and wall panels or even just hang fabric from the ceiling for a cost-friendly alternative.
  7. Control Noise from Windows
    Glass reflects sound waves so you need to do something about your windows. Dampen the sound by keeping outside noise out with thick sound-absorbing curtains. If your venue is located along a busy street, use acoustic laminated glass windows to improve your restaurant acoustics. Sound waves bounce off their especially-designed interlayers, effectively blocking out noise and improving acoustic insulation performance.
  8. Reduce Ceiling Height
    Clatter of silverware inside huge, high-vaulted spaces can be deafening as noises are magnified by great ceiling heights. Just lowering your ceiling height can significantly reduce sound levels in your restaurant. You can reduce your ceiling height by adding soundproof ceiling tiles. If you’re avoiding major renovations, a cost-friendly choice would be to use styling material drapes as fodder for the acoustics.
  9. Leave Enough Space Between Tables
    To reduce the noise levels in your restaurant, set ample space from each table. Leaving adequate space between tables gives your patrons the quiet they need for their conversations and the privacy from being overheard.
  10. Use Low Lighting Over Tables
    One of the ways to reduce restaurant noise levels is to use low lighting over each table. Doing this creates an intimate atmosphere that pushes patrons to speak in hushed tones. Soft background music also contributes to this ambience as guests won’t feel the need to raise their voices over it.

The Takeaway

While a reasonable amount of noise is inevitable in restaurants, bars, and cafes, too much of it can be off-putting and can turn off prospective patrons. Several factors contribute to the increasing noise levels in a food and beverage venue. Hire an interior and building designer who specialises in restaurant, cafe, and bar fitouts so you can get a proper assessment and the best solutions to improve the acoustics in your restaurant.