Rating Noise Levels in Restaurants

After hearing about our Anti-Noise Pollution League, Stacey over at Tasting Toronto brought up an interesting question – Would “noise ratings” in reviews keep you from going to a restaurant?

Ten years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle became the first to routinely document noise ratings in its restaurant reviews. They rate noise using BELLS:

  • ONE BELL = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels);
  • TWO BELLS = Can talk easily (65-70) – sound level for normal conversation
  • THREE BELLS = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75) – as loud as a vacuum cleaner!
  • FOUR BELLS = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80) – as loud as a lawnmower!
  • BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

For Stacey of Tasting Toronto (two foodie bloggers discovering the best and worst of Toronto’s culinary scene), a high noise rating might not keep her from trying a restaurant whose menu looks mouth-watering, but it could certainly keep her from going back.

Members of the Anti-Noise Pollution League feel the same way:

  • “My wife and I, when we walk into a restaurant, one of things I do is listen for the noise of the music. Unfortunately sometimes the music is set for younger people and is much louder than what we prefer. We turn around, walk out and go to another restaurant. And that’s the main problem we have is the noise level of music.” – Ralph in Orangeville
  • “We eat out very seldom because most of the places we have available around us are not conducive to conversation and enjoyable dining. My husband is hearing impaired and it is almost impossible to enjoy eating out”. – Judy in Whitby
  • “I was so thrilled to hear about this crusade. For many years my husband and I were distraught as every restaurant we went to we had to be yelling at each other. We got fed up and would ask the waiter to turn down the music. They grudgingly complied, but soon the volume would go up again, and we would have to ask yet again that the volume be turned down. We basically don’t dine out as often anymore because it’s just not worth the aggravation. The restaurant at the Four Season’s Hotel is the one that has the special ballet dinners (can’t remember the name) Again thanks for bringing this issue to the attention of the public.”

What are your recommendations for civilized dining? Join the Anti-Noise Pollution League and let us know!


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