Why Loud Restaurants Might Be Good for You

Hate noisy restaurants? Esteemed critic Pete Wells says you've got it wrong.

Crowded restaurant
Restaurant critic Pete Wells makes the case for why noisy restaurants might be a good thing.
Thomas Taylor Hammond/Creative Commons

What’s your take on noisy restaurants? Do you enjoy some background noise as part of the dining experience, or would you prefer a more monastic approach to your meals? As it turns out, restaurants on the noisier side of things have an unexpected advocate: Pete Wells of The New York Times. 

In a new essay, the restaurant critic makes the case for why some noise in restaurants is better than you might think. One disclaimer: When Wells discusses noise, he’s talking about the voices of the people dining there. He has less patience for a different kind of volume, noting wryly that “[a] few chefs and owners love to play their favorite music at teenage-Metallica-fan volumes.”

As Wells writes, criticism of certain diners talking by other patrons who, presumably, also talk when they’re at restaurants has a real “we have met the enemy and he is us” feel to it. He also notes that food is not the only reason why people dine out:

If you believe a restaurant’s primary function is to serve food, then it doesn’t make sense for us to respond by raising our voices. But we go out for other reasons. We go to look around, maybe to be noticed, usually to talk to the people we came with.

Given that dining with friends can be beneficial for a host of reasons, maybe a little background noise isn’t too high a price to pay for the corresponding relaxation.

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