UPDATED 8/6: Are Twin Cities restaurants too loud? We're testing them—and you can help

This story, first published on June 7, has been updated over the course of several weeks. Scroll down to see the most recent update, featuring decibel readings from The Liffey and Patrick McGovern's.

When Jeremy Kleider asked his parents to join him at Pat's Tap in south Minneapolis, he wanted to share with them a place known for its great food, its great beer selection, and its hip atmosphere, which basically reinvented the neighborhood tavern.

What Kleider, 26, and his parents, in their mid-50s, didn't expect when they arrived for dinner at around 6:30 p.m. was that the music would be so loud that they couldn't hold a real conversation.

"The place was just so loud, it was really kind of impossible to have any kind of conversation," said Kleider. "It was busy in there...everyone in there had to shout over the music."

Kleider hasn't been alone in this observation, as Daily Planet columnist Jeremy Iggers pointed out when he visited Morrissey's Irish Pub, Red Cow, and Spill the Wine back in April.

"Am I just turning into a cranky geezer, or are restaurants getting louder? And if so, why?" wrote Iggers in his post, who then noted that of the three restaurants, Morrissey's Irish Pub was the loudest.

So just how loud is too loud? When does a loud atmosphere go from fun and energetic to just plain loud? And does this vary depending on the time of day? The location? The purpose of your visit or the target demographic of the establishment?

Over the next month, I'll be visiting different restaurants around the Twin Cities, measuring their decibel levels and talking to their employees and customers to try and answer some of these questions.

You can help, too.

Have you noticed these same trends? Do you have specific places you'd like to see tested? Email me at kristoffer [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net with your suggestions of which restaurants you'd like to see tested, and even during what times. Or, you can leave your suggestions in a comment below. (If you don't see the Storify windows, please refresh your browser.)

Update: June 16

Update: July 1

Update: July 16

Update: August 6

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

  • YES THEY ARE TOO LOUD. Doubt we'll go back to Burch Steak. Why don't architects make acoustically softer restaurant spaces? Also, I think background music is COMPLETELY unnecessary. And live music should be listened to, not eaten to. - by Betty Tisel on Fri, 06/07/2013 - 9:41pm
  • Why not forward the article and comments to the restaurant owners? Let them know people stay away because of the noise. Lack of profits might be the only persuasion they need to take positive steps. - by Joanne Roger Snyder on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 8:31am
  • I think there's a place for the loud atmosphere, especially in bars, but in restaurants it would be nice to be able to have dinner and a conversation that doesn't involve shouting. - by Ann Reed on Sun, 06/09/2013 - 9:57am
  • Pat's Tap is loud even without the music. This could be mitigated if bar owners installed the right surfaces. - by Steven Brandt on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 7:15am
  • All of Kim Bartmann's restaurants are really loud...have you checked out Bryant Lake Bowl...I swear this is on purpose...I have read that the louder the bar/restaurant the more you drink because the loud noise causes anxiety which you want to calm down by drinking more. I avoid this restaurants becasue theya re sooooo loud. - by Kathleen McGee on Sat, 07/20/2013 - 8:59am
  • Research shows that the louder the restaurant, the more people drink. Hence the near torture decibel levels. When we show restaurants that they can make money by being quieter, they'll fall in line. Would be great to boycott restaurants that are just too loud. - by Shirley J Milgrom on Wed, 06/12/2013 - 4:12pm
  • Of course I'm curious to know if anyone can beat Merlins on bagpipe night... - by Jennifer Strahan on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 9:56pm
  • On the plus side, Lucia's is pretty wonderful on acoustics. - by Betty Tisel on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 9:21pm
  • Burch Steak was wayyyy too loud when we went there around the time it first opened. It was a less than enjoyable experience. - by Erika J. Dani on Sun, 06/16/2013 - 11:03pm
  • Also, those kids need to stay off my lawn. - by Mike Jones on Mon, 06/17/2013 - 4:06pm

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Kristoffer Tigue's picture
Kristoffer Tigue

Kristoffer Tigue is the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

(editor [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net)


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Loud restaurants ... suggestions for tests

Burch Pizza ... have to shout yourself hoarse to have even minimal conversation

Mill Valley Kitchen ... loud and intrusive music makes conversation exhausting

Crave ... horrible

Al Vento gets extremely noisy ... ditto for Craftsman, Northeast Social Club

Restaurant loudness

I recently tried out Burch Steak with three friends for my Birthday and found the noise level really impeded my overall enjoyment of the place (though the food was certainly delicious).The noise level at that restaurant felt particularly extreme. 

Both of the blue door

Both of the blue door locations, but I noticed it more at the new blue door longfellow. I ate there with my boyfriend and both of our parents and we actually asked them to turn it down, which they grudgingly did but definitely noticed they turned it up as the night went on. For what I always considered a family friendly place, I was surprised by the noise level

Blue Door Pub

The Blue Door Pub in Saint Paul does not even need any loud music to feel loud - the rooms are small and is usually crowded.  There is no sound absorbtion material on the walls - so it gets really loud even when it is just the people in there talking to each other!

Noise and food

I generally try to go to restaurants whose food I like.  Bar LaGrassa and Borough are pretty loud, but I put up with it because I like the food. BTW, my wife and I each wear hearing aids, for what it is worth.

The typical owner response is

The typical owner response is something like "most complaints come from older customers".  It's depressing how little they seem to care about our business - maybe they think they're doing ok without us.   

 You can be sure I won't go to the Burch Steak after reading this article .  Some friends and I went to Pat's Tap once, and while it's a nice place, we won't be back. 

  Places like this could just put a sign out front, i.e. "noise level may not be suitable for older customers".  Patronizing, irritating, yes but it would save us all a lot of trouble.   I'm 61 by the way, and my hearing is fine.