Music overpowers the appetite at some eateries

Published 11:08 am Friday, September 15, 2023

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I’ll have your famous shrimp and grits with a big slab of quiet, please.

We are blessed here with All-American small towns and a growing number of good restaurants, all within 20 minutes or so of our homes. But for some of us, choosing which restaurants will be the beneficiary of our dining out budget is based on both the food and the experience.

More and more these days, the experience is a combination of dining and live music, a dish that sounds good on the surface but not all restaurateurs can pull it off.

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If the restaurant has a small dining area, as most do, cramming a musician or two into the corner of the room with less-than-perfect acoustics ruins what might have been a good thing.

My rule of thumb for new restaurants has always been to wait a month before trying it because it takes a month to get the kinks out. You know, just so everyone can learn how long vegetables should cook, how to keep the bread fresh, the difference between a dash of this and a splash of that.

But the kiss of death for me with any restaurant is reading a reviewer’s comments that the music was so loud they couldn’t carry on a conversation with their dinner guests. That is the death knell for many of us who want to hear what our friends have to say.

A year or so ago we tried out a new restaurant nearby. Within a short time of being seated, I–a person totally ignorant to the restaurant business–concluded that the place was schizophrenic. It couldn’t make up its mind. Restaurant? Bar? Entertainment venue? Yes, they must have thought. Let’s be everything to everybody and do it in a teacup.

“How’s your shrimp scampi?” I shouted.

“No, I’m not sure this is the time to go camping,” was the reply.

“Would it be possible to ask the musicians to turn their amp down a bit,” I shouted to the server.

“What?” she asked.

Some restaurants focus on consistently good food. They don’t let live music interfere with that. Other restaurants put the live music in the next room, giving diners the option. At the front door they ask if you would like your steak with Jake & Elrod or without.

Without, please. And thank you.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at