• Noisy dining at a cowboy restaurant

    Noisy dining – a story from Michael Colston

    We enjoyed this recent letter about noisy dining from one of our clients, Michael Colston:


    In your latest newsletter, you ask for stories about noisy dining. I offer the following:

    Many years ago a Texan friend took me to a real, hundred percent cowboy restaurant in the outback of Texas. There were perhaps 200 diners and as you would expect in that situation I was the only man not wearing a hat (Stetson) at the dinner table. The blare of pop music was unbearable. One of the diners asked the waitress to switch off the loudspeaker. She refused saying it was company policy to have music and most people enjoyed it. I doubt that, said the Texan and he wandered round several tables and everybody said they would like the music switched off. So he asked the waitress once more to switch the music off and after a heated argument she refused and walked away.

    With that, the Texan calmly drew his revolver and shot the loudspeaker. There was a small shower of plaster and the other diners just looked round for a moment to see what was up, and then continued eating their meal. Evidently that event was not remarkable in that part of the world!


    Michael Colston

  • Clear Speech Guide

    New mobile app to monitor decibel levels in restaurants

    Eight out of ten people say they have left a café, restaurant or pub because of the noise. The trend these days seems to be to decorate restaurants with lots of bare, hard surfaces. No carpets on the floor, no tablecloths, no wall hangings, no curtains – so there’s nothing to absorb the noise and it can be impossible to hear someone even if they’re sitting right next to you. We discuss the development of a new mobile app to monitor decibel levels in restaurants.

    Monitor restaurant noise levels

    So we welcomed the news reported in The Times last week that the charity Action on Hearing Loss is developing a mobile phone app that will allow diners to record the decibel level so that the loudest restaurants can be named and shamed — and avoided by those who want to be delighted by their companions as much as their food.

    The charity has been forced to take a more direct approach after being ignored by Britain’s biggest restaurant chains.

    “In July we wrote to 70 restaurant groups highlighting the problem of excessive noise, offering advice on how to reduce the volume. We have not heard back from any of them,” said Luke Dixon, who is leading the campaign against excessive noise. We think this is shameful.

    restaurant-noiseHow restaurants can reduce noise

    And there are things that can be done. Instead of hard surfaces, which bounce noise around the room, there are products that can be put on the wall that look like works of art and there are products that fit to ceilings that are almost invisible and absorb the noise.

    Click the link to read the Times article “Clamour to end the dinner-time din.” You can also read The Times leader article “Can’t Hear” in the same issue.

    We fully support the Action on Hearing app development program. It is in the fundraising stage now, and the charity hopes to have the app available by next year.

    In the meantime, Pipedown, a campaign for quiet spaces, already publishes a list of places that let you eat and chat at the same time, untroubled by piped music.