Why are restaurants so loud these days?? According to many industry experts, noise is often associated with energy. And a restaurant that’s loud, according to Bon Appetit Magazine, “is perceived as lively and successful.”
But no matter how lively and successful a restaurant appears, if it’s just too darn loud for patrons to have a conversation, let alone hear what the specials are, it’s not going to provide a very pleasant dining experience for anyone—especially someone with hearing difficulty. But, if you’re one of the thousands of people dealing with hearing loss, don’t let that be a reason to eat all your meals at home—here are some tips for eating out when you have hearing loss.
- Be choosey about where you dine. This might seem like the most obvious of tips, but it goes beyond the type of food you’re after—you need to consider the space you’ll be dining in. Are there table cloths and carpeting to help absorb some of the noise? Is there plenty of space in between tables? A number of popular new restaurants often come with design styles that include stark interiors, hardwood floors, open kitchens and high ceilings—add some loud music and you have what could be considered the perfect noise trap. Ask other people who’ve dined there or go online and look at photos. Better yet, read the reviews on independent sites like Yelp and just know that if people say it’s loud, it probably is—and you can still eat there, just be prepared for what might not be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
- Be choosey about where they seat you. If you’ve called ahead for reservations, ask for a table that’s along an exterior wall (not in the center); one that’s away from the kitchen or any open service area; and if there are booths available, request one. And if the restaurant isn’t able to accommodate your requests, mention that either yourself, or someone in your party, has hearing difficulties—most will be more than happy to do what they can to oblige.
- Be choosey about what you look at. No matter where you end up sitting, make sure you position yourself with your back to the loudest part of restaurant—and directly face the person, or persons with whom you’ll be with. This is especially important if you already have hearing aids as many come with directional microphone systems that help diminish sounds coming from behind you while emphasizing the ones directly in front of you.
Sit back and enjoy your meal
And remember, in loud environments—be it a restaurant or anywhere—even people without measurable hearing loss often have a difficult time deciphering what the waiter says, let alone the person seated next to them. So you’re not alone … do what you can, but above all else, try to sit back and enjoy your meal. Hopefully the food will be delicious.