You’re just about to tuck into your main course when along comes Norah Jones. Again. She’s there on the sound system and it’s ‘Don’t Know Why’ for the umpteenth time. Nor do we. At one time in Sheffield restaurants whenever we went out for a meal there were always three of us at the table for dinner: me, my wife and Norah.
It’s probably my age but I have a thing about music. I don’t want it to be there unless there’s a reason. Why should you have to hear it in lifts, in supermarkets and, God help us, even in banks and building societies while you’re waiting to get your own money?
A man who ran a pub which served good food once told me: “If you can hear the music it’s too loud.” I had just gone through my checklist to ask if music was played.
Music is there to serve a purpose. It’s a sad fact that in British restaurants, the posher the food, the softer people speak, in hushed whispers. Compare that to the animated conversation levels in similar restaurants in France or Italy. So it fills a gap but must not dominate.
If we must have music let it be appropriate. There was that restaurant near Barnsley, which I won’t name, which played Ye Olde TV theme tunes all night: Z Cars, Emergency Ward 10, Dr Who. I am not kidding.
Then there was the Bakewell restaurant, full of 50-somethings, where the youthful staff played discordant music very loudly. When my wife asked politely if they could turn it down (which they did for a time) the manager was sarky all night. Oh how I loved to write that review up later!
And I’ve not been to the Majestic wine warehouse again since on my last visit the staff were playing hip-hop music to middle-aged shoppers, not quite the background to spending over £100 on a case.
Restaurants should take more care with the music and make sure it suits their customers not the staff. There was a study which showed that when restaurants play classical music the average spend goes up. I’m not quite sure what it said about Norah Jones.