New York restaurants aim to 'turn-down the volume' to protect hearing

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Dinner is about to get a lot quieter.

Next week, a handful of New York restaurants will turn down the music, mute the phones and urge hosts and servers to pipe down.

Plates and glassware won’t clink, and orders won’t be shouted in the kitchen.

It’s part of the Hearing Health Foundations “Turn Down the Volume” initiative, which takes place on May 15.

“We’re encouraging people to take care of their hearing,” said Andrea Boidman, the foundation’s executive director.

“One of the most common complaints in restaurants is that the music is too loud. And it’s even worse for people with hearing loss. It makes it hard to focus on what people are saying.”

Among participants is Burak Karacem, owner of the Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant Pera, located in SoHo and midtown.

“Our music isn’t too high to begin with,” Karacem said. “My biggest concern is plate and glassware and silverware clatter, so we’re going to reduce that as much as we can. We’ll have training sessions with the staff.”

His restaurants will also hand out information about hearing loss, and encourage customers to sign the Hearing Health Foundation’s pledge for hearing health.

Only 16% of doctors routinely screen for hearing loss, according to the HHF.

“This is an everyday problem that affects so many people in New York City, including myself,” Karacem said. “Right outside my door, there’s an ambulance siren. Two minutes ago, there was a fire truck.”

Wearing headphones, going to concerts, even riding the subway every morning can also affect hearing, Karacem said.

“(Noise) is ingrained into our daily lives in more ways than the volume at restaurants,” he said.

Delmonico’s Kitchen, Amali, Bistro Citron, Pomodoro Rosso, Bistro Cassis, Park West and Millesime will also “turn down the volume” on Wednesday.

Boidman hopes the initiative encourages other restaurants to reconsider their noise levels.
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