How to Stay Far From the Maddening Crowds at Noisy Restaurants

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The Wall Street Journal posits that restaurants are becoming noisier as the recession forces owners to create a homey vibe via rock music, lack of carpeting and table cloths, and more. Of course, we knew this already, but here’s some possibly useful advice on how to avoid getting trapped in a restaurant where you can’t hear yourself eat.

Diners worried they will end up in a noisy restaurant may want to play defense with a few strategies. Googling pictures of the restaurant can be helpful: Walls of windows, high ceilings, boxy dimensions, a surfeit of hard lines and a dearth of soft materials should raise red flags. Call the restaurant and ask if it has acoustical paneling or other sound-reducing materials. Take note: If they say they have carpeting, that's often not enough, says Marshall Long, an acoustical engineer in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Restaurants rarely lay down carpet more than one-inch thick, the minimum for effective noise control, he says.

Once in a noisy restaurant, seek out tables in alcoves or side rooms, which can barricade or at least deflect noise, Mr. Thunder says. Convincing management to turn down the music is a double boon: The music itself gets softer, and then other diners lower their voices because they are no longer competing with the music.

Pass the Salt ... and a Megaphone [WSJ]