This week Michael Bauer returned to one of his most favorite pet peeves (and therefore favorite blog topics): noisy restaurants. Regular readers of his columns will know that in recent years, Mr. Bauer's ears have been ringing far too often after dining out, and when one dines out professionally as he does, you can understand how this might get annoying. It is a fact that the older one gets, the more sensitive one's ears become, and the harder it is to tune out background noise, and Bauer acknowledges that yes, this is a problem that is mostly being brought up by the Baby Boomers among his readers.
Not that he wants to be defensive about it, but after griping about restaurant noise year after year and creating the Chron's bells-to-bomb noise meter for his reviews Bauer feels validated whenever anyone writes in to support him in saying that San Francisco dining rooms have gotten too damn loud. And what's more, he says, restaurant owners ought to be listening to him, and not to their younger clientele.
[The reader] admits he’s a Baby Boomer, but he raised an issue I’ve also blogged about before: that last year a study showed that Baby Boomers increased dining out by 6 percent while Millennials decreased by the same percentage. Clearly, the Baby Boom generation has more money than previous generations and is spending it at restaurants.
True, Millennials are, by and large, kind of poor. But not in San Francisco, they aren't! If they can afford to be here, chances are they're doing pretty well in their job at Facebook and/or Mommy and Daddy are paying their credit card bills, but I digress.
Here's what a Bauer reader had to say with regard to the scourge of local restaurant noise as compared to similar eateries in Europe.
My wife and I recently returned from a month in Germany and France. During that time, we visited a variety of restaurants from tourist ‘grab and go’ to high-end, from country village to, well, Paris. Not once did we encounter a noise level even close to your three bells, never mind four, or the dreaded bomb.
We are admittedly ancient, 68 and 69 respectively, but even the very ‘young person oriented’ restaurants in Europe are no match for anything in our fair City by the Bay.
I own a building where Will and Karen Gioia are proprietors of their eponymous restaurant. Love Will and Karen; love their food... [But] Your ‘bomb’ rating in the Gioia review was all too accurate.
The Baby Boom generation is retiring in droves and many of us have lots of time and plenty of money. Going to restaurants is one of the many ‘entertainment’ options at our disposal. But we old folks have become accustomed to conversation while eating and once you’ve eaten at Harris for the fiftieth time because it’s the only damned place in San Francisco where you can hear the person on the other side of the table, the menu becomes rather shop-worn.
My question: Are ‘we’ not an attractive demographic? My wife and I are now red-lining any 4 bell and all bomb rated restaurants REGARDLESS of the food review. Not worth it, won’t go.
What do you think, folks? Do you agree with Bauer and his reader?