Skip to Content

5 Tips For Dining Out With Hearing Loss

Save this post to read later:

My favorite restaurant recently underwent a large renovation. It was necessary, as the place definitely needed an update, but I was crushed. This restaurant was my family’s haven from noise. Every Friday night, almost without fail, we enjoyed a quiet, stress free, delicious meal in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. And none of us had to worry about my hearing loss. Were we going to have to find a new place?

The restaurant was old-school Italian. It had carpeting, acoustic tiles, fancy white tablecloths and waiters from Italy. The food was outstanding and the environment was perfect for our family — quiet. Whenever friends or relatives would visit from out of town, we would take them there. We barely even looked at the menu anymore. We didn’t need to.

But then they did the renovation. They removed the carpet and installed hardwood floors. They spiffed up the bar area adding more hard surfaces and swapped some of the cloth wallhangings for framed photos. We noticed the difference right away. The restaurant was now more visually appealing, but it was also no longer as quiet as it used to be.

The good news is that we have adapted and the restaurant has been very accommodating. We are now always seated along the wall or in the corner and they are happy to turn down any music if we ask. The food and warm atmosphere are the same and it remains my family’s safe-haven dining venue. It just requires a little more forward planning to make sure we request a good seat in advance.

This experience highlighted for me the key characteristics of a good restaurant for people with hearing loss and the importance, once again, of advocating for yourself.

Here are my tips for a successful experience when dining out.

  1. Provide information early. Note your desire for a quiet table in your reservation and remind the restaurant if they call to confirm. This gives them a better chance of meeting your needs than if you walk in cold. If they seat you at a less than ideal table at first, ask for a quieter spot. Persistence often pays off.
  2. Request a table in the corner. A corner table or other location beside a wall works best since there is a barrier between you and the rest of the restaurant noise. This also eliminates distractions from noise behind you and lets you better focus on the speakers at the table. A booth is also often a good choice if it has high back seats.
  3. Choose restaurants with sound absorbing decor. Carpet, curtains, cushioned chairs, cloth tablecloths and acoustic tiles are my decor of choice. Many restaurants today prefer hard surfaces like glass and wood. Preview the decor online or look for “old school” restaurants which may have a more classic design.
  4. Read online reviews. Many restaurant rating systems now include noise level as one of the criteria. For example, Zagat now has a “Good for Quiet Conversation” search category. I am sure others do as well.
  5. Ask around. I like to trade restaurant tips with my hearing loss friends and also with my hearing friends. Once you hit a certain age, everybody wants a quiet restaurant!

Readers, do you have a go-to quiet restaurant in your neighborhood?

This piece first appeared on LivingWithHearingLoss.com.

Save this post to read later:

Melt Midlife Middle with These Metabolism Boosting Recipes!
← Previous
Energy Boosting Tips That Target Stubborn Midlife Middle
I’m just wrapping up two months in Italy. The most asked question I’ve received is “How did you do that?” Check out my travel budget and tips on long vacations. #italy #florence #travel #budget
Next →
How I Vacationed In Italy For Two Months On A Budget

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Joyce Brewer (@MommyTalkShow)

Tuesday 26th of April 2016

My niece is deaf and her husband is hearing impaired. Restaurants with clear, easy-to-read menus are great too. I've noticed a lot more people know sign language like a server or manager.

Living With Hearing Loss

Tuesday 26th of April 2016

Wow, you are lucky to find so many that know sign language. I hope that is helpful for your family. Most people with hearing loss do not know sign language, particularly if they acquired hearing loss later in life. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

Rosemond

Monday 25th of April 2016

so many restaurants these days have those communal tables. I have a hard time hearing my dining companion and I don't even have hearing loss! I wish that style would be done for a while. These types of seating arrangments must be really difficult if you do!

Living With Hearing Loss

Tuesday 26th of April 2016

Terribly! I try to avoid them unless the place is empty! Thanks for your comment.

Carla

Monday 25th of April 2016

Quite frankly it had never occurred to me to find out ahead of time if I could get a quiet table all. My sister is deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. I tend to look for/plan quiet restaurants but now I will also call ahead!

Living With Hearing Loss

Monday 25th of April 2016

Great! I hope that works well for you! You always need to remind them when you arrive as well. Thanks for your comment.

Rebecca Hively

Monday 25th of April 2016

It was wonderful to read of someone else's frustration in restaurants. My husband just loves to sit at the bar to eat which is always the noisiest place. I wear to hearing aids and generally just remove them and let him take the lead!

Living With Hearing Loss

Monday 25th of April 2016

Yes, the bar is usually the loudest. It is great to call ahead if you can and ask for a quieter spot. Maybe he would like that too.

AnnaRosenblumPalmer

Monday 25th of April 2016

I am eager for trends to change and carpets and table clothes to come back for exactly the reasons you say. My husband is deaf in one ear and when we go out to a place that is loud it is almost as if I am dining with a statue of him. Albeit a statue who loves food. I have found that the very noisiest spots are mentioned in reviews...but quiet is less likely to be mentioned. Italian places seem most likely to have fabric. Odd...

Living With Hearing Loss

Monday 25th of April 2016

I would love to see the old trends resurface. If enough of us voice the opinion, perhaps things will shift slowly. Plus, I love Italian food! Thanks for your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.