Loud Restaurants: Drink More, Leave Early
Want to spend more than you planned when going out to dinner? And leave early? Of course not. Then, you might want to stay away from loud restaurants. A noisy dining experience is apparently good for business, and bad for your wallet. It may trick you into ordering more drinks, and eat faster. George Prochnik, of The Daily Beast, has done some research into this that you might be interested in. And save you some money.
In the mid-1980s, researchers at Fairfield University demonstrated that people increased their rate of chewing by almost a third when listening to faster, louder music, accelerating from 3.83 bites a minute to 4.4 bites a minute. Stoked with data of this nature, chain restaurants, such as Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill, developed computerized sound systems that were preset to raise the tempo and volume of music at hours of the day when corporate wanted to turn tables.
And a study completed in the summer of 2008 in France found that when music was played at 72 decibels, men consumed an average of 2.6 drinks at a rate of one drink per 14.51 minutes. When the sound level was cranked up to 88 decibels, the numbers spiked to an average of 3.4 drinks, with one consumed every 11.47 minutes.
The Consumerist goes onto to explain why it works:
Prochnik says it may partly be that you drink and eat more when it’s not easy to talk. But he also says that there may be something going on at the brain chemistry level–that “noise is a real, physical stimulant.” For example, Italian researchers demonstrated that “acoustic stimulation” heightens the effect of ecstasy, in what was likely the best study to participate in ever, and Prochnik claims “soldiers on battle missions crave heavy metal.”
Prochnik’s theory may explain one of my complaints when eating out. When a restaurant is so loud that I can’t carry on a conversation, I want to eat and run. The table is now ready for another victim customer. That’s good for business.