Dining out isn’t just about the food, it’s an experience for all the senses. And if you’ve ever left a restaurant irritated or exhausted, you may be aware that one of your senses (hearing) plays a big role in the experience. Perhaps more than you know.
Whether you’re a food lover, restaurant owner or an architect working on a restaurant project, knowing how acoustics will impact the experience is a good idea.
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Whether it’s the Lombard effect or other reasons, most restaurants have a serious noise problem that is affecting customers and staff and therefore the business. In the United States, for example, the 13,000 American diners who responded to the Zagat Survey 2018 indicated noise was their biggest complaint (24 percent), more than service (23%) and even crowds (15%).
On top of that, we also know that exposure to noise impacts our hearing, influences our mood and even our long-term health. This should be worrying enough for restaurants who want customers to return and recommend them and for high-quality staff to stay. But they face another problem, more specific to the business—noise affects taste, too.
Research from Charles Spence found that sweetness, saltiness and overall appeal (“liking”) of the food increases in quieter environments (45-55dB) and goes down significantly in louder environments (75-85dB). If the food’s important, acoustics should be too.
In the video below, Peter Munch, restaurant manager of Café Toldbolden, one of Copenhagen’s oldest restaurants, talks about how investing in better acoustics has improved the dining experience.