How to Mitigate Fast Food Restaurant Noise
At one time or another, you’ve likely dealt with sitting at a noisy restaurant, hearing more than you’d like while trying to enjoy a meal. Research shows that the noise level in a restaurant impacts customer satisfaction.1 So, how can restaurateurs dampen the loud sound level in their kitchens and dining rooms to provide their guests with a more enjoyable dining experience and prevent a dreaded noise complaint or even customer loss?
DIY methods can help with sound reduction, but adding “fluffy” materials like thick curtains, cloth wall hangings, rugs, and throw pillows isn’t a very practical solution in a commercial kitchen. Restaurant noise mitigation is best left to specialty acoustical materials.
So, what are some methods of control and reduction of excessive sound in restaurants? In this guide, we’re breaking down which acoustical tools might work best for reducing restaurant background noise and keeping restaurant patrons happy (no matter what kind of restaurant you run).
Soundproofing vs. Sound Absorption in Restaurant Noise Abatement
When people talk about “sound reduction,” they’re commonly referring to one (or both) of the following goals:
- Soundproofing – Soundproofing methods block sound from entering (or leaking out of) a space.
- Sound absorption – Sound absorption tactics dampen the sound generated inside of a space to prevent echoes or reduce ambient volume.
When it comes to restaurant noise, your efforts are likely to be more focused on the latter. The sounds you’re trying to mitigate—clanking dishes, patrons talking, cooking sounds, or equipment noise—are coming from inside the space, and absorption (rather than blocking) is typically the best course for reducing restaurant background noise.
Reducing Noise in Restaurants
Let’s break down a few options for battling sound control in buildings depending on the type of restaurant establishment you operate.
Fast Food Restaurant Noise
Although fast food interactions average just over six minutes across major chains, sound control should still be a priority—particularly limiting excessive noise coming from the drive-thru.2
The number one recommendation we have for helping prevent fast food sounds from impacting customers’ drive-thru experiences is using acoustical panels. To reduce interior noise, consider rigid, porous, and easy-to-clean products like Sound Silencer panels.
Casual Dine-In Restaurant Noise
Casual dine-in, fast casual, or counter-service restaurants must contend with more than kitchen noise. Since customers are spending more time on the premises, restaurant workers and owners also need to pay attention to customer-generated sounds. Consider sound-dampening solutions like:
- Wood wool panels – These acoustic panels absorb interior sounds and enhance aesthetic appeal—they’re available in numerous sizes and colors, and are paintable.
- Sound Silencer panels – This panel product is particularly useful in commercial kitchens. Panels are tackable, Class A fire-rated, and resistant to water, mold, bacteria, and fungi.
- Acoustical baffles – If your restaurant is in a large warehouse space (or has high ceilings), a hanging product can absorb sound without taking up wall space.
- Echo Eliminator – For any space, we strongly recommend using our echo eliminator product line. The Bonded Acoustical Cotton panels are made from recycled cotton and are one the most cost-effective methods for echo and unwanted noise reduction.
Formal Restaurant Noise
If you run a formal dining room, you need your acoustical products to be as elegant as they are effective. Consider:
- Perforated metal tiles – These Silk Metal tiles can be applied on the ceiling grid to absorb echoes in the dining room. While they resemble smooth silk fabric, their micro-perforations are highly effective for reducing restaurant sounds.
- Wood wool panels – Opting for eco-friendly and cost-effective Wood-fiber acoustic ceiling and wall panels is one of the best ways to absorb sound while thermally insulating your space. Not only do these panels help reduce echo and reverberation through sound absorption, but they can add a flare of aesthetic design to your business.
- Poly Max – Made from non-toxic, non-allergenic polyester fabric, our Polyester Acoustical panels are impact resistant, designed to reduce noise, easy to apply with their tackable surface, and can add an architectural aesthetic to level up your space.
Small Dining Room Noise
If space is limited in your restaurant, consider two powerful, space-efficient options for loud noise control:
- Kitchen solutions – If you have limited dining space but you’re facing kitchen noise leakage, consider focusing your efforts on the latter. Panel-based materials like Sound Silencer or Silk Metal ceiling tiles can absorb cooking sounds and unwanted noise before they can leak into the dining area.
- Wall and ceiling products – You may not have the floor space for curve panels, but wall panels or acoustical ceiling tiles could provide a solution that doesn’t sacrifice floor space.
Large Dining Room Noise
If your restaurant is in a large space, you may have particular difficulties with echoes. You have numerous options for specialty acoustical products:
- Clouds and baffles – If you have high ceilings or you’re in a warehouse space, consider hanging sound-absorbing media like baffles and clouds.
- Stretch fabric wall system – If you have a long wall or two, consider covering them with acoustical stretch fabric or prefabricated fabric panels (simpler to install over a stretch wall). These systems are highly customizable and simple to install.
- Acoustical wall art – If you’d rather use your available wall space for decorations, you don’t have to sacrifice your restaurant acoustics. Consider custom graphic acoustical panels that feature original artwork, photos, or branded images to adorn your walls and can help in loud noise reduction.
Restaurant Noise Mitigation from Acoustical Surfaces
If you’re not sure where to start on your restaurant noise control project, reach out to the experts at Acoustical Surfaces. We have the expertise and product know-how to tackle any kind of sound mitigation challenge—whether you need something simple (like foam acoustic panels) or a highly custom acoustical system.
When you’re ready to tackle restaurant noise for good, contact our team today!
- Journal of Small Business Strategy. The Influence of Background Sounds, Physical Sounds, and Managers’ Proactive Customer Service Regarding Situational Sounds on Customer Satisfaction in the Restaurant Industry. https://jsbs.scholasticahq.com/article/29831-the-influence-of-background-sounds-physical-sounds-and-managers-proactive-customer-service-regarding-situational-sounds-on-customer-satisfaction-in
- InTouch Insight. Drive-Thru Study. https://www.intouchinsight.com/hubfs/Drive-Thru%20Studies/2022-DriveThru-Study/2022-Intouch-Insight-Drive-Thru-Study.pdf