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Rena Sarigianopoulos
February 19, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS - Have you been to a restaurant lately that was so loud you couldn't have a conversation? If it made you feel old, we've got some good news for you. That energetic environment is actually the new trend in dining out.

Does that mean you're never going to be able to enjoy a quiet meal? Not at all.

"The further you get from the energy sources - the bar over there, the cooking over there - you have that zone for people who want to go out for a nice quiet evening," says David Shea with Shea Design.

David is an expert in designing restaurants and is the man behind many of the high-profile eateries in town. He says research shows people want to eat in a place that feels energized but most restaurants are now designed with all kinds of customers in mind. He took us through two of his latest projects to show us exactly what he means. We toured Marin downtown and Spoon and Stable in the North Loop.

Marin has three very distinct zones. The dining area of the restaurant uses a lot of upholstery, banquets and curtains to absorb sound. There is even one whole wall covered in leather to help dampen sound. They actually found it to be too quiet and added a pizza oven to give the upstairs a little white noise. The bar area, however, has plenty of wood to give sound just a little more bounce and the library bar in the cellar has an even different vibe.

Read more  . . . Loud restaurants



We are excited to have so many participants sharing their experiences.  Because of the large amount of information, we have changed our format and put the results in a PDF spread sheet. 


Conversation Impossible


Do you enjoy checking out new neighborhood restaurants? Are you a person who can’t wait to visit a restaurant that got a good review to learn whether its cuisine really is the best?

You eagerly make your reservation and arrive full of anticipation, mouth watering as you read the tempting menu…but then, like many of us with a hearing loss, find having a conversation almost impossible.

Yes, the food is great, the atmosphere is lovely, your dinner companion is delightful, but it takes herculean effort to speech read. 

Only through sheer concentration do you catch the drift of the conversation and you leave exhausted and frustrated. Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s restaurant reviews give information about the decibel level. This is useful information, but more specifics would be helpful for those of us who contend with hearing loss. For instance, how busy and how loud does it get at lunch time? Are there good sound absorbing materials on the walls and floors? Is a booth available that gives better acoustics or an area in the restaurant that is quieter?

Although we can’t change the restaurant environment, it would be helpful to know what to expect once we get there.

This is where we need your help, and your opinion matters!

Share with us your experience by clicking on the link below or the Restaurant Survey button on our home page. Answer five short questions and then rate the restaurant racket!

NVRC will compile the reviews and make them available through our website, so be sure to check back often.

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Click here to link to the Survey

Click here for Survey Updates

For restaurant communication tips, check the NVRC fact sheet:

RestaurantStrategies 5-08

Restaurant Noise
Restaurant Acoustics
Noise in Restaurants: Consumers Sound Off