“Sir, would you like extra decibels with that ceviche?”

Didn’t that daily special sound good? What? You say you couldn’t hear just what it was? Hmmm.

“Bon Appetit!” “What was that?”

If your ear drums are being assaulted while your taste buds are being massaged, you may be eating in one of the newer Downtown Denver restaurants. They are noisy. Often noisier on the inside than the street is on the outside.

Zagat Survey, covering 15,000 restaurants in 42 major markets across the United States, found that noise is the second most common complaint of restaurant goers, just behind poor service. We’d suggest that in Denver, we have more noise than poor service.

While normal conversation at a distance of 3′ rates about 60-65 decibels, some restaurants approach noise levels as high as a rock concert, 105 decibels. They easily and often reach 95 decibels, the same level of noise as a jackhammer 50′ away.

And, it’s not necessary. Take the old Dixon’s space for instance. A large, but quiet place to dine and talk. Divide it into two new restaurants. Be sure to strip the ceiling and shine the concrete floor. Take it down to the old brick walls. ┬áDial up the music. Add a bunch of hipster groups chatting loudly and more loudly. Looks great, but it’s noisy. Same goes for the old Gumbo’s space, and many, many others. Want a quiet meal? Eat outside. You only have to compete with the Mall Shuttles next to your table.

Living Downtown includes buying into the concept of “urban noise”. We have trash trucks in the alleys. Sirens. Buses rumbling along and shaking buildings. Pedestrians carrying on late at night. Even dogs barking. But, those are all at acceptable and understandable levels. What we don’t buy into is having a restaurant being so loud that you can’t hear the server and she or he can’t hear you. So loud that you can only communicate with the person across the table by texting. Is that any way to eat?

New restaurants thrive on “buzz”. Noise is not “buzz”.

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