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How do East Passyunk Avenue restaurants deal with high noise levels?

Along with an increase of restaurants in the area, there’s an increase of noise at the restaurants. Noise levels are increasing and some restaurant-goers are complaining.


Brigantessa is one of the restaurants dealing with noise concerns.

So how do some of East Passyunk Avenue’s restaurants deal with this noise problem?

When you’re at a restaurant, the first thing you think to do probably isn’t to pull out your phone and check the decibel level. But that’s what’s happening now that some restaurants are reaching levels that are too-loud-for-comfort.

The noise level at restaurants like Bing Bing Dim Sum apparently reach as high as 97 decibels, according to a review by Craig LaBan and other spots on the Avenue also reach pretty-high levels, especially during heavily-trafficked weekends.

The loud noise supposedly is meant to attract the younger crowd to these establishments, but how much noise is too much? Now that some restaurant-goers are starting to complain, some restaurants are trying to find solutions to tone down the noise.

More from The Inquirer:

At Le Virtu in South Philadelphia, where the decibel-meter hit 91, it was a scramble. “We learned the hard way the discomfort our guests were experiencing,” said co-owner Francis Cretola. He got a skilled staffer to install acoustic panels.

Later, at Brigantessa, he hoped wood floors would quell the din. They didn’t. “As soon as we saved more money,” he said, “we had the same employee install larger, denser panels.”

So what’s your opinion on noise levels at restaurants? Is louder really better, or would you prefer a quieter restaurant setting?

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18 Responses to How do East Passyunk Avenue restaurants deal with high noise levels?

  1. Lou_1000X July 28, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    They better take note. My bill fold is lot fatter than any 20-somethings. Bing-Bing, Fountain Porter, and Brigantessa are off my list until they make some sound absorbing improvements.

    • Nik July 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

      Brigantessa is a lot better since they installed the panels. First time i went, way too loud. Went last week, and it was a lot better.

      • Lou_1000X July 29, 2015 at 8:20 am #

        Thanks Nik! I’ll give them another shot.

        SoCrisp is correct, the standard limit is 85db over an 8 hour shift. I guess servers generally put in 6-7 on the floor, thus they don’t receive any protection.

        As for POPE and loud music, I think that’s different. They control the volume. My beef is with places that are just not properly set up to handle the volume a normal crowd produces. There is absolutely no reason for a room full of people having normal conversation to sound like the Spectrum during a playoff game.

  2. Julie July 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Turn it down! I was so happy to read this article over the weekend and confirm that I’m not just turning into some grouch. The Cantina inside space has been off my list for ages. In fact, I’ll almost never eat inside anywhere once the outdoor tables come out, especially on Passyunk Ave.

  3. Anthony July 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Louder is definitely not better, to me. I don’t want to have to whisper to my wife across the table to avoid the whole restaurant from hearing, but I certainly don’t want to experience damage to my hearing because it sounds like a rifle range. There is a way to have a vibrant restaurant scene while keeping the noise at a reasonable level.

  4. Lou_1000X July 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Additionally, this should be an employee health issue. If your employees are subjected to a sustained level of sound that can cause permanent damage, precautions MUST be taken.

    • SoCrisp July 28, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      This. 85+dB over an 8-hour period is actually an OSHA violation, and employees are supposed to be given hearing protection at the employers’ expense, as well as pre-hiring, annual, and post-job hearing screens to ensure their hearing is being conserved. But we can’t even get waitstaff sick days, so good luck with all that.

  5. SoCrisp July 28, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    1-800-321-OSHA to place complaints, if anyone’s feeling feisty. It’s anonymous.

  6. Tractorr July 28, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    What I don’t understand is when places turn up the music when it gets crowded. I remember being at the POPE one night, everyone was having a good time, and then the bartender turned up the music. Instantly everyone stopped having conversations because they couldn’t hear each other. It is fine to have music but if the crowd is getting louder the solution is not turn the music up. No one came to the bar to hear your iPod.

  7. Jim July 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    The new triangle tavern is unbearably loud at times.

    • Andy July 30, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      Agreed, Jim! I went there with several friends, and we could barely hear one another from across the table. I could barely hear the person sitting next to me! It makes for awkward and less than ideal dining experiences.

  8. LM1 July 29, 2015 at 7:58 am #

    Noise is always an issue in the city. People talk loudly on the street, and it translates into the restaurants. For me, going out to certain brunch spots have become a nightmare. What was once enjoyable and relaxing for my husband and I, is now a headache (literally) to try to have a nice fairly quiet meal out. In particular, Green Eggs is so loud, I just stopped going there.

  9. spf5000 July 29, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Louder is not better. Tractorr brought up the main issue. We humans gather around food in social settings primarily to socialize. A restaurant’s architecture and background music should support comfortable talking levels. I don’t want to spend my time and money shouting at my dining companions. Keeping your restaurant (home, shop, business) quiet is also neighborly. We live in dense quarters and you gotta keep your noise out of your neighbor’s space. That is just common decency.

  10. Rich Garella July 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    I went into Bing Bing Dim Sum to ask for a table and it was so loud I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I felt sorry for the host, whose hearing will certainly be damaged in the long term. (Luckily the weather was good and a table was available outside; the meal was very good).

    But I will never eat inside there unless they do something to absorb the sound. Same with Cantina — I won’t eat in.

    I eat with my friends so I can talk with them, not scream at them over a roar of other people all screaming over each other.

    • Lou_1000X July 29, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      @Rich, that was my experience at Fountain Porter. I thought that it was supposed to be a little more of an “adult” bar, and wanted to try the much talked about hamburger. Even at half-full early evening, the roar was way too much. Walked out.

  11. Mike S July 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Totally cool with you guys not going to these places. It’s like you want popular restaurants but you want noone to go to them. Sure little things can be done to help the noise, but complaining about the noise at Fountain Porter is just beyond absurd, it’s a narrow bar, what do you expect? Peace and quiet? Get over yourself, im sure FP is gonna do just fine without your “fat billfold”

    Honestly i think people with a little money that think they are above the common man and expect soecial treatment wherever they go just because they have money are much more dangerous than some decibels

    • ProvWitout July 30, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

      Yeah loud noise means you are rocking the house… Not a bad problem to have… Ya do what you can to set the mood. But you also are trying to provide an enjoyable experience. Its a delicate balance. If a quiet dinner is part of the brand of your restaurant, its a problem to have an overabundance of guests making it loud in there. But restaurants who rely specifically on the quality of the food, rather than a mix of food and ambiance, shouldn’t have to be so sensitive to delicate folks’ noise pet peeves… After all, rents on commercial space aren’t getting any cheaper. Gotta pack them in when ya can.

      But some people should know that when they walk into a popular restaurant district during prime time, you’re not gonna be able to have a quiet cozy little dinner tucked away in a cute little candle lit nook every time…

  12. Lou_1000X July 30, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    @Mike S – you failed reading comprehension? Nobody is complaining about places being crowded, simply that they have not taken the necessary steps to keep noise at a reasonable level. Apparently Brigentessa has now done so (that is how a smart business operates).

    As for you Noam Chomsky tangent? Spoken like a true sophomore! BTW, PBR sucks.

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