According to a nationwide Zagat survey, noise has become the second-biggest com- plaint among diners, behind lousy service. Yelp has begun listing noise levels atop its ratings. OpenTable, a reservations service, allows reviewers to rate restaurants as "quiet," "moderate" or "energetic." A number of prominent national restaurant reviewers now factor sonic quality into their reports.
The reason many diners are looking for quieter dining is probably two-fold. First, most groups and families visit restaurants not only for the chow, but to socialize. This means you need to be able to hear the conversation and not shout to be heard. Secondly, loud reverberant environments induce physiological stress on the body. It is not something that most people are consciously aware of other than the feeling that they want to leave. Experiencing stress is just the opposite of what most people are looking for when they go out. They are looking to relieve stress.
Not only does noise drive away restaurant business, but it also drives away FEC business. One of the great myths in the FEC industry is that loud and noisy is good for business. This appears to be the worst in many gamerooms, where owners crank up the volume settings on the machines to the maximum. Groups and families visit FECs to have fun and socialize together, not to have to shout over the noise and be stressed out.