HomeRestaur-ActionRestaurants and clubs, indigestible noise

Restaurants and clubs, indigestible noise

Enjoy good food away from the surrounding noise. Dialogue with your guests, without losing a nuance of tone. An idyll denied in too many restaurants and clubs. Where the noises of the dining room, the shouting, the hateful clatter of plates and glasses prevent conversation 'with your legs under a table'. The joy of the banquet is lost, but also the reputation and business. 

Restaurants and clubs, indigestible noise costs

The bad reviews on 'social media'- due to the noise in the premises, which causes stress where relaxation is sought - today they are the first incentive for managers of public establishments to seek a remedy. (1) The alarm bell rings on 'Trip Advisor', with penalizing reviews such as'good food but too much chaos''excessive noise''not recommended for business meetings’, etc. There is thus a risk of nullifying the efforts made in years of work and the investments in food quality, raw material and service. 

Quality in catering must therefore not neglect - regardless of the 'target'of customers - the welcome of the premises. Which is not only linked to (dutiful) hygiene, care in furnishing or the presence and courtesy of the employees. But also, and above all, to the possibility for the patrons to experience conviviality. To distract yourself from the worries of work or continue it in a more informal atmosphere, rather than to experience a few moments of intimacy with friends and loved ones. No need to scream, or want to get out as soon as possible (possibly leaving bad reviews). 

Noise costs, to the reputation of the place but also to those who work there. To the room attendants and to the managers themselves, who generally spend more time there than everyone else. Thus the already heroic commitment of restaurateurs worsens the quality of their life, with often irrecoverable results. Hearing loss (hearing impairment) is one of the top three occupational diseases recorded every year. Together with osteo-muscular and carpal tunnel diseases, it composes a triptych that expresses 80% of the diseases caused by work and reported to INPS. Although the waiters - out of addiction, familiarity or the need to keep their jobs - do not appear in the rankings of workers affected by the phenomenon.

A jackhammer in operation it is certainly not comparable to the noise of a noisy restaurant. Since in the first case the acoustic impact is measured - and suffers -, in the second the environmental acoustic climate. And the latter can be measured, with sound detection devices, in terms of differential with respect to the background 'acoustic climate', that is, without the noises caused by the activities in question. The disturbance experienced by those who frequent a noisy place is therefore comparable, for example, to that which characterizes the offices of the call center. And not surprisingly, the work in call center it is already classified among the professions at risk of hearing loss, as documented by Anfos (National Association of Occupational Safety Trainers). (2) 

Noise of the premises, the legal risks

The crime of 'disorder of people's occupation and rest ' a lawsuit can be prosecuted, often initiated by condominiums and neighbors of noisy premises. (3) It is ascertained by measuring a differential of 'environmental acoustic climate', inside neighboring houses and offices, equal to or greater than 5 dB during the day, 3 dB at night. The procedure is defined as a settlement, in most cases, following the installation of sound-absorbing panels on the ceiling and walls of the premises. Also in order to avoid negative repercussions on licenses.

Legislation however, it lacks specific prescriptions, both on the limits to be checked during operation and on the insulation materials to be used. (4) 'The maximum noise thresholds (95 decibels, dB) apply only for voluntary sound transmission, through amplifiers and loudspeakers, which in any case requires municipal authorization and compliance with the legal thresholds', indicates Emilia Wanderlingh, a Milanese architect with thirty years of experience in the sector.

Sound insulation, economy and style

The economy it is at the basis of the choices regarding acoustic insulation. 'Choosing high-performance materials in terms of soundproofing and the absence of reverberation immediately costs three times, 120 euros instead of the 40 of a basic panel ', explains architect Wanderlingh. 'Moreover, the intervention, if inserted in the initial phase of the work, has a better result also on an aesthetic level. And yet, many they give it up. ' 

The initial choices savings are however counterproductive, and often involve subsequent investments that are not as effective and useful for the purpose, if not greater. 'It is precisely when the restaurant loses customers that shelter is sought by adding foam rubber sound-absorbing panels, but the result is different. These panels are very choreographic, as they change the style of the place, but in many cases they remain a palliative '.

It is a question of style, the acoustic quality of the environment. 'If you work with enlightened entrepreneurs it is easy to share the importance of acoustics. I estimate a real attention to this issue in 10% of restaurateurs', continues Emilia Wanderlingh. Because 'creating a muffled environment, a source of well-being, where you hear every word of your diner and nothing from the other tables is an essential requirement for a successful business. If this requirement is lacking, even the best food is debased by noise'.


Dario Dongo


(1) See Szalma JL, et al. (2011). 'Noise effects on human performance: a meta-analytic synthesis'. Psychol Bull. 2011 Jul; 137 (4): 682-707. doi: 10.1037 / a0023987

(2) See brochure ANFOS, its https://www.anfos.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/anfos-2013-opuscolo-rischio-rumore-ambienti-di-lavoro.pdf. It should also be considered that those who work in restaurants do not even have 'headphones with a microphone', which the operators of call center they also use as personal protective equipment 

(3) Criminal Code, article 659 

(4) See law 447/95, 'framework law on pollution '. DPCM 215/99 and subsequent amendments, 'Regulations laying down rules for determining the acoustic requirements of sound sources in dance entertainment and public entertainment venues and in public establishments'. See also 

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.


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