Have you noticed conversations have become more and more difficult in modern restaurants? If you have, you’re not alone. Industrial style restaurants using hard materials such as concrete and metal, which are not known for their ability to absorb sound, have become quite trendy in the industry. Combine the industrial materials with rising popularity in open concept and open kitchen restaurants – and you have a recipe for some very loud establishments.
The chances of people “using their inside voices” in restaurants as pleaded by Christiane, the popular blogger of the Atlanta based Christiane Chronicles is slim to none. Therefore, it is important that you understand why restaurants are so loud, and what you need to know to protect your hearing (and your sanity) when dining out.
Why So Loud?
As briefly mentioned above, restaurant aesthetics have adopted a modern style – using a lot of raw materials, high ceilings, exposed piping and open dining rooms and even kitchens. These days, it is extremely rare to find restaurants equipped with sound absorbing extras such as floor rugs, table cloths, or cloth chairs – as these decorations have truly fallen out-of-vogue.
On top of the changing décor, new cooking techniques have also added to the noise levels in many popular restaurants in Atlanta as well as across the world. Popping grains and seeds at extremely high temperatures has become a popular practice amongst chic gastropubs and restaurants. This technique produces a delicious touch of “crunch” packed with plant protein, making them perfect for traditional as well as vegetarian and even vegan joints. Although creating a delicious result, the popping is extremely noisy – and definitely increases the decibel level.
Two restaurants in the Atlanta area have creative chefs who have been using this technique. Mike Sweeney, head chef at Tiger Mountain Winery and Ryan Smith at Staplehouse who pops barley, coats it in milk powder and uses it in his signature desserts.
How to protect your hearing in restaurants
There are many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone which measure sound decibels. Next time you are in your favorite joint, switch on the app to get a read of just how noisy it is. Exposure to decibels above 85 is considered to be damaging to your hearing over long periods of time. As decibels inch higher, the potential for hearing damage also increases. Just knowing how loud the places you frequent are will increase your awareness of their potential for damage. One night in a noisy place won’t harm your hearing, but potentially limiting your exposure to these places may help to protect your hearing.
Did you know that hearing loss is the number one reported work related injury in the United States? If you are an employee at a noisy place of work (for example, in a restaurant), it is your employer’s obligation to provide hearing protection for you. Hearing protection won’t make you stand out. In fact, it can be very discreet, and will potentially keep you from a lifetime of hearing loss.
How to protect your sanity in restaurants
When we talk about protecting your sanity in a noisy restaurant, we’re talking about your ability to hear and carry on pleasant conversations with your dinner mates. Follow these tips to make dining in loud restaurants more fun and pleasant.
- Nestle into a quiet corner. Ask the host to seat you in a nook or corner of the restaurant that may be the least noisy.
- If one ear is stronger than the other, sit with your “good ear” towards your communication partners, and your communication partners between you and a wall or other silent space.
- Dine outside of the busiest dinner times. Enjoying your meals either before or after the dinner rush will not only save you money with happy hours or reverse happy hours – but may also protect your hearing with lower volumes.
How Atlanta Hearing Doctor can help
If you’ve found yourself struggling to hear in restaurants more than your friends or family, or have noticed some of the other signs of hearing loss, reach out to our friendly team at Atlanta Hearing Doctor today. The best way to hear better in loud environments such as restaurants is when fitted with high-quality hearing aids. Let us help you on your journey to better hearing and higher quality dinner dates.