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What?!?! Noisy Restaurants in L.A.

bottega-louie

On the most recent Eat LA on Off-Ramp, we focused on LOUD—places where the food’s good, the décor is smashing, but the noise level is on a par with Runway 24 at LAX. Does too much sound ruin an otherwise good meal? Or does it make it even better? And how do restaurateurs deal with noise?

You can hear the KPCC podcast here.

I’ve been writing about LA restaurants since the ‘80s, so I know this is nothing new. But I’m still baffled about why people put up with it. Sure, going out to eat or drink is as much about the conviviality as the quality of the comestibles, so I get that people are drawn to liveliness. But when you have to scream so your date can hear you, what’s the point?

The most baffling of all has been downtown’s Bottega Louie. I love the place in the off hours. But good lord, the noise level at peak times is crushing. Even my teenage daughter couldn’t wait to get out of there. And yet big groups meet there to eat every night. I guess they don’t have much to say to each other.

To find out how loud is loud, I met Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson at Seventh and Grand, just outside Bottega Louie. To be as scientific as possible, we brought along our very own decibel reader.

In this episode, Kevin also talks with restaurant owner Yassmin Sarmadi, of Church & State, another cacophonous downtown dining destination about how she tries to walk the fine line between conviviality and din. I talked to Caroline Styne, co-owner of LucquesAOC Wine Bar and Tavern, about how difficult it is to keep her three popular restaurants quiet. And Aidan Demarest, bartender and co-owner of Glendale’s Neat Bar, explains that loud music and noise actually encourages patrons to drink more.

Some of the worst noise offenders these days are downtown: Bottega Louie, of course, but also Lazy Ox, Mas Malo, and Church & State. But they’re all over town. Which ones drive you crazy?

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