Noise levels in restaurants is such a Catch-22. On one hand, while it’s great to actually have and hear a conversation with your dining partners, it’s unnerving to sit in a completely quiet restaurant. On the other, too loud is a ridiculous cacophony that turns many paying customers away. Eat LA’s Colleen Dunn Bates targets Bottega Louie on KPCC’s “Off Ramp” this weekend, finding the crushing sound of the white-walled space just too much. Even at 7:00 P.M. on a Wednesday night, when the restaurant isn’t at capacity, she and another reporter measure the decibels to be as loud as a dump truck. “There’s a a fine line between conviviality and deafening, but yet, people keep coming,” says Bates. Is there any way around it?
Carolyn Styne from AOC, Lucques and Tavern says that no matter how much you design and plan to stifle sound, you don’t really know until bodies are in the space. They try to move people to quieter spots in the room if someone complains. But there is something else restaurateurs can do: Keep old people out. Yassmin Sarmadi, owner of Church & State, says only older people tend to be disgruntled over the noise level of her bustling spot, and that was mostly in the early days (probably when the first reviews poured in and the demographic was different). But Aidan Demerest, owner of Neat in Glendale, loves the noise: It sells booze. “If someone says the bar is way too loud, I tell them they should go home and go to bed,” he adds. “You’re too old to be here.” Simple.