Why Restaurants Are Louder Than Ever

by Christopher Paul on July 13, 2013

Grub Street wanted to know why NYC restaurants are so loud. The answer:

Most restaurant scholars will tell you that the Great Noise Boom began in the late nineties, when Mario Batali had the genius idea of taking the kind of music that he and his kitchen-slave compatriots listened to while rolling their pastas and stirring their offal-rich ragùs (Zeppelin, the Who, the Pixies, etc.) and blasting it over the heads of the startled patrons in the staid dining room at Babbo. Over the next several years, as David Chang and his legions of imitators followed Batali’s lead, the front-of-the-house culture was slowly buried in a wall of sound. Sound-muffling carpets (and tablecloths) were taken up in favor of exposed-wood tables and brittle floors. Rooms became smaller and more acoustically challenged, and with the arrival of the recession, the small bars in the front of the house got bigger in order to sell more profitable drinks. Sound systems were cranked up, and suddenly noise became the hallmark of a successful New York restaurant.

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