Among one of the many disturbing trends I'm noticing lately, which include the fact that everyone seems to know who Paris Hilton, Hannah Montana, Denise Richardson, and Li(ndsay) Lo(han) are (if you don't, consider yourself blessed, and please resist the urge to look them up unless it's on Go Fug Yourself); another disturbing (to me) trend is that business owners are naming their establishments with one-word, 1-3-syllable, supershort names (Lush, Tank, Salt, Sepia, Lather, Presence, Hazel, Tru), as though that one word could capture the essence of what that establishment was all about....

What was I going to talk about? My head's all fulla Denise Richards whining about being misunderstood while ordering a dish at Sepia that's priced $15 more than it should be simply because the name of the establishment is trendy....OH!


A big part of my job is taking committees to dinners. Very nice dinners. The purpose of the dinners is twofold: 1) Thank the committee members for their time and dedication to the committee; 2) allow the committee members to catch up the night before the meeting. This is one of the few times per year they get to see each other, and many of them have travelled in the same circles for years, so they enjoy the chance to catch up. My problem is that, while I didn't lament the closing of Le Francais, I DO regret that, while there are a dozen really good restaurants in the Wheeling/Deerfield area, now that Le Francais is closed there is no place within 12 miles that serves a wonderful, 4-star meal in an atmosphere where you can hear your neighbor without raising your voice. If you want to address someone across the table, you literally have to yell to be heard. Some of my quieter committee members, understandably, find this uncomfortable. Osteria del Tramonto's, Prairie Grass, Stony River, Pete Millers, Tramonto's Steak and Seafood - all are guilty. All of them are freaking LOUD. On a lower scale, Claimjumpers and J Alexanders are so loud I've actually had to get up and walk around the table to hear what someone has to say. My hearing is pretty good, but like most people, I don't do well with a ton of backround noise unless I've got a glass of wine in my system - which may be the scam: getting us to drink more. With a half-glass of Cab in my system I don't care so much that I'm pretty much screaming like I'm at an Oingo Boingo concert, circa 1989; but most of my committee members are startled and shocked when I start requesting "Nasty Habits." They would NEVER tell me what their nasty habits were! Well, unless they had a glass of wine in their systems, too. That's when things get interesting for the wait staff. Hey! Maybe THAT's the scam....

Whatever the scam is: PLEASE find a way to buffer the noise in your restaurants. Though you are all obviously doing well, and your food is wonderful, you are losing our business. If our offices were located downtown we wouldn't have this problem. I just don't know why ALL of you seem to believe you have to create as noisy an atmosphere as possible (especially the steak houses and Osteria del Tramonto's - which is a shame because given the choice I'd bring all of my committees to Osteria del Tramonto's! YUM!!!!). It's not the music, it's the interior design. Tables are seated too closely together, there are too many of them, and there are no sound absorbers, no carpets or curtains or wall hangings - just exposed brick walls and high ceilings and hard floors. The conversations at each table are somehow melded and amplified, churned into an unavoidable constababble. For the price you're asking for your meals, a little distance from our neighbors' conversations should be included, along with the tip for our large parties, though again, as soon as we find excellent fare in a quieter atmosphere, you probably won't be seeing us again.

And we are actively looking.


evandebacle said...

"another disturbing (to me) trend is that business owners are naming their establishments with one-word, 1-3-syllable, supershort names..."

Don't blame the restaurateurs, when we all know who the real culprit is: Kurt Cobain. When Nirvana came on the scene they set the course of hip nomenclature.

Rev Transit said...

Oh my God! I just had an awful moment of insight. My whole adult life, I've made a point of avoiding restaurants with French names. Now, I'm worried that the only restaurants I'll be able to hear other people talk in will be those.

I blame baby boomers for this horrid state of affairs. They lived their whole lives around loud music, so they're used to the noise. They're now at the age, like me, where they find it hard to hear other people talk if there's a lot of background noise. But since they tend to go out to eat with people their own age, they don't mind. They find it helpful when they can't hear other baby boomers talk. It cuts down on the arguments.