In Search of the Loudest Restaurant in Sacramento
Round 1: Arden Boulevard
By Rob Cockerham |
Do you know what I ask for when it is my birthday? Well, let me tell you: I ask for measuring equipment. I recently ditched a sound-pressure level app, and embraced the dedicated electronics of a genuine MASTECH MS6700 Autoranging Digital Sound Level Meter Tester! Among other great ideas, I decided to head out on the town and sample the noise of Sacramento restaurants. Which would be loudest? Which would be quietest? Now I had the necessary tools. I tested the atmosphere of twelve local restaurants on a rainy Friday night. Restaurants were busy, but not crazy busy.
Ok, the first place was crazy busy. There is a large wating area, and it was filled with people.
I didn't have the time nor appetite to eat at twelve restaurants, so I adopted the following testing procedure:
I set the sound meter to note the loudest sound volume during my visit. Then I walked in, walked past the hostess lecturn and around the tables in the dining area.
You might think that this random walk through the restaurant would alert the staff to my shenanigans, but no server, hostess or cook questioned my methods. I was unimpeded in my quest.
It only took a minute. My first stop, Farrell's Family Ice Cream, had a maximum volume of 89.6 decibels.
The second place I tested was Johnny Garlic's, a Guy Fieri Restaurant. It was not a very full restaurant, but all of the hard surfaces must have been unable to absorb any sound. It was 89.9 decibels (dB).
Kaveri Madras is the indian restaurant closest to my home. It is a great place, small and serene. I recorded a max volume of 69.4 decibels.
My next stop was at Chili's. I think of Chili's as a loud place, but it was relatively quiet, at 78 decibels.
As I was leaving, a birthday song erupted from a clutch of servers, singing to a long table. The clapping and cheers brought the sound meter up to 94.6 decibels. Happy birthday Tanya!
Applebee's is another American standard restaurant. The place was fairly full, but not particularly loud. I think the soft upholstry and carpeted floors help to absorb sound. The max sound level on my visit was 81.3 decibels.
My next stop was the megarestaurant known as Cheesecake factory. Seriously, is there a larger restaurant than this one? It must have 150 tables. By some miracle the maximum sound level was only 83.3 decibels. This is probably due to the family dinner setting, as opposed to the "party time restaurant" setting.
The tall ceilings probably help too.
The next stop was Johnny Rockets. This is a tiny restaurant within the Arden Mall. It has the architecture of a loud restaurant, but it was fairly quiet. Honestly it is probably just too small to be loud: 84.3 dB.
Seasons 22 is on the luxurious end of mall restaurants. It was the fanciest of all the restaurants I visited, where wine seemed to be the theme. In the picture above, you can see the place was jam-packed with sound-absorbing decor. Even with a bachelorette party, the volume never broke 80.8 decibels.
This is a fine restaurant for a date, but I don't think this is the right place for a bachelorette party. Congratulations Gretchen!
BJ's is another mall restaurant, a better place for a batchelorette party.
The volume in here peaked at 86.2 decibels.
Chuck E. Cheese was on the same street, so I stopped in to monitor their sound pressure levels. Would you let this guy into Chuck E. Cheese?
It was about 8pm when I visited, so a lot of kids had already gone home to bed. The half-full dining area peaked at 83.3 decibels, but the noise hit 92.6 in the arcade.
The next stop was to Hooters. With a carefully framed photograph, I was able to capture a diverse cross-section of their clientelle in this shot. Hooters has a party atmosphere, but it was still quiet enough to hear at 85.1 decibels.
By the time I was finished, I was ready to eat, so I called Pooja Indian Grill and picked up Tandoori Mixed Grill.
It was almost 9pm and Pooja was winding down for the night when I arrived to pick up dinner. There were only three tables occupied, which was reflected in the 67.9 decibel reading I measured.
Arden Road Restaurants: In this round of restaurants, with the exception of arcades and staff singing performances, Johnny Garlics was the loudest.
If you are dressed up, in the mood for fun, it is pretty easy to find a loud restaurant where you can be surrounded by a lot of action. Size of the restaurant is a factor, but the decor and music play a critical role in the overall acoustic atmosphere. If you want to talk with someone over dinner, you should probably go to an indian restaurant.