Gone are the days of velvet booths, subtle mood muzak and low lighting that we see in the swanky restaurants of Mad Men. Now a lot of hip restaurant sport minimalistic design, polished concrete floors, and loud music.

Most people that spring for a nice meal wish to include good conversation as part of their evening. However, restauranteurs have the idea that hustle and bustle is credited with bringing in more business, and there may be something to that, but it looks like they need to listen to their customers:

“According to the nationwide Zagat survey, noise has become the second-biggest complaint among diners, behind lousy service. In Los Angeles, 18% of diners ranked noise as their top peeve last year, up from 12% in 2010. Some restaurateurs are getting the message and looking for a middle ground between aesthetics and acoustics.”

Here’s a company that allows a restaurant manager to control the noise levels as carefully as their home theatre system:

It’s a “system from Meyer Sound, designed to control the acoustics of an environment in real-time, this time catering for restaurants and clubs. Based in Berkeley, California, the audio engineering company has beta tested its acoustics system at the city’s Comal restaurant, where microphones were set up to translate the sounds of customers into a digital signal to be processed. Using a tablet device, the managers were then able to analyze the data, make changes to the volume of music being played, and alter the positions of sound-absorbing fabric depending on the noise levels produced by customers in individual sections of the restaurant. Speakers and subwoofers also helped amplify background noise present where necessary. The idea behind the system is that restaurant and bar owners can manipulate the atmosphere to make it feel as if the premises is bustling or relaxed according to their needs. Atmosphere can play a large part in customer satisfaction and is one of the factors commonly judged in user reviews.”

Not surprisingly,  Sensory Appeal™ wave is about targeting the senses. The Human Truth™ is “I want a new sensation.”™  However, in this case, it’s about zeroing in and fine tuning one particular sense. Noise can be so annoying, and nobody wants to yell at the dinner table to be heard. The ambiance of a restaurant is so important to the dining experience. Lets hope the industry hears the results of the Zagat survey loud and clear.

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