Did you see Betsy’s comment about noise levels in restaurants? She says, in part, “…big groups go out for fun and laughter and it’s great – unless you and your friend or husband or date went out for a quiet evening and quiet talk. I want them to enjoy themselves – just not next to us when we are two!”
Betsy, I agree. It is certainly something we’re trying to be sensitive to as we design Alison two. But, it can be a thin line. If a restaurant is too quiet, it feels a bit uncomfortable. We don’t want a library. We want to hear the sound of people enjoying the food and company. The sound of people enjoying themselves is a great sound! It creates a great vibe.
It is very hard to anticipate how loud things are going to be. We’re not really going to know until the restaurant is full. The time of day and night of week make a difference too. On Valentine’s Day we’re full but – not surprisingly — it is a quiet night. Other nights we might not be full, but one loud person or table can change the whole atmosphere. It is particularly tough at Alison at Blue Bell, which is one big room. It’ll be easier at Alison two, because it is divided into several different spaces.
We evaluate each design element both by how it looks and by whether it will absorb sound. We’re considering the noise levels in each space and how it will flow into adjoining areas. The other day, we looked at a divider that would separate the bar from the dining room. It was really interesting – sleek. But, we nixed it because we felt that sound would bounce off of it instead of being absorbed. To further absorb noise, we’re looking for ways to use fabric – like carpeting the bar rather than putting down the typical hardwood floors. In the entrance area, I wanted to hang a framed photo across from the windows. That got nixed because we thought it would encourage sound to bounce between the windows and glass. And, on the enclosed porch, which has a wall of windows, we’re limiting the seating to 2-tops and 4-tops with just one 6-top. Next, we’re considering how to separate the private dining rooms. We want something that provides privacy and sound absorption.
In our weekly meetings, noise levels come up repeatedly. It is a balancing act – it starts now and will probably continue even after the doors open.
Well, I’m going to quietly sneak off to work on those copy changes for the Alison at Blue Bell website, create tips about cooking with chocolate for my appearance on NBC-10’s 10! Show next week and meet with Yard’s about our upcoming Philly Beer Week dinner…