Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sound Energy

Tonight, I noticed that it is noisy in the restaurant. Now, for those of you who come to the restaurant, this really isn't going to be a shock. It is a... vibrant space.

For the first year, we fretted about the sound. Handily, Alex's dad is a physicist with a little subspecialty in acoustics (dinner conversation at the Svenne household can be intense!) We had many conversations with him about how to address the issue. After that first year, we lost interest and oddly enough people simply adjusted. In fact, I think for the most part, people crave the energy created by the sound. A musician friend of ours from New York told us to not change a thing about the sound, she said that the acoustics were fantastic and it was a great vibe.

So many of the sounds are organic to a restaurant. There is no door to the dish pit so you hear the plates being stacked and the pans being sprayed; the servers' station is out in the open so you hear glasses rattling, cutlery being polished and dropped into the bin, and the ice being scooped into jugs. The kitchen is sitting in the middle of the room so you hear the pops and sizzles of cooking and the crash of the pans into the bus tub (you can also hear the conversation of the chefs which I had to remind them of tonight as they were on a long-winded rant...)

You also hear the music and we love music! Our lives are full of music. And, we LOVE to dance. Our best folk festival musical moment this year was being dead tired, 2 a.m. Sunday morning, squished in wall to wall people, dancing to So Called, a crazy hip hop klezmer band. It was delicious! What this translates to at the restaurant is constant music. We have many playlists and are always on the prowl for new music that fits different times of day and different moods (feel free to send suggestions.) We also dance a lot: Alex, the staff, me. In fact, I am sitting and writing this at the bar right now and it is 11 at night after a very busy Friday, and Alex and Clint are dancing away on the line.

Two nights ago, it was very quiet in the restaurant. I think that night is what spurred this post. It was eery. The joint was jammed full, including big parties, the music was turned up to "party" playlist, and NOTHING. I couldn't get the room buzzing to save myself. Every time I went to say something to someone, I felt like everyone in the room was leaning in to have a listen cause they had nothing else going on. It was at that moment that I realized many things: the acoustics of the space contribute to the noise; the volume and choice of music contribute to the noise; all the restaurant sounds contribute to the noise; but, the customers engaging with each other and us make the place hop! We can't generate the volume of sound that lively, happy, chatty people enjoying each other and their food and wine can create. Tonight, I experimented by telling the dishwasher to be extra quiet, polishing the cutlery gently, turning the music down, and none of it really changed the fact that it is loud in our restaurant. Loud with people. And, I love it!