Should noisy groups be BANNED from nice restaurants?

My noisy family was asked to ‘keep it down’ during a birthday meal – I don’t think we were ‘obnoxious’ but some say big groups should be BANNED from nice restaurants

  • Woman took to British parenting forum Mumsnet after restaurant incident  
  • READ MORE: I told off a teenage checkout assistant for looking at his phone and biting his nails and he CRIED – was I a ‘bully’ or right to call out bad service?

A woman has sparked an online debate after revealing that her table was asked to ‘keep it down’ while celebrating a birthday in a restaurant – which she says made her feel ‘mortified’.

The anonymous poster, who is believed to be UK-based, took to the parenting forum Mumsnet to ask people for their opinions on the situation in a post titled ‘Asked to keep it down in a restaurant’.

She explained that she was part of a group of nine celebrating a birthday in an upmarket restaurant and they had to speak loudly to hear each other over loud music.  

‘In the middle of our main courses a waiter came over and asked us to please keep it down as another table had complained,’ she said. 

A number of respondents felt that the party did sound as though they would have been annoying to the other diners, but others argued the restaurant could have handled the matter more delicately.  

A woman has sparked a debate online about how reasonable it is for large groups in restaurants to be noisy, after revealing that her table was admonished during a recent meal (stock image)

In her post, she wrote: ‘Pretty mortified to be honest, but I don’t think this was right or fair.

‘We were a family group of 9 on a large table celebrating a birthday. It was a very ‘naice‘ restaurant (£30 main courses type of place) but the music was really loud. We were probably quite noisy but not obnoxiously so, we were laughing at childhood stories. Not swearing or shouting or chucking food or arguing.

‘It really put a shadow over the whole thing. We go out as a family a few times a year and have NEVER been asked to be quiet or had any kind of complaint so I am fairly confident we weren’t actually a********. 

‘It was a large table so we weren’t whispering to each other, but equally not yelling. Although the music got really loud as the evening went on so we probably were ‘loud’ but only so we could converse.

‘I have worked in hospitality for many years and I just wouldn’t have had this conversation as a waiter unless someone was really disturbing other guests. I’d have nodded and smiled at the complainers and given them a free drink.

‘So, oh wise Mumsnetters. You are being unreasonable, you lot were clearly obnoxious a******** who should have been thrown out. Or You are not being unreasonable, this was an odd thing to tell a large party in a busy and very loud restaurant.’

Commenters, however, agreed that it sounded like her noisy party was disturbing other customers.  

One wrote: ‘Very annoying for other diners. We had this recently in a restaurant and couldn’t hear each other talk.

‘I think large groups shouldn’t be in fancy restaurants. Even talking at a normal level, it’s too much noise.’

In her post, the anonymous woman said she did not think it was ‘right or fair’ that her table had been asked to keep the noise down, but asked others for their views

Another agreed, adding: ‘For the waiter to ask I would expect you were pretty loud.

‘Are you a loud family? My husband’s is and I have sometimes been very aware of how loud they are when we’re on a public space. I don’t think they have any concept how loud they come across.’

And a third Mumsnetter wrote: ‘I have also worked in hospitality for many years, and as a waitress I HAVE acted on these complaints, but only if I agreed with them. Were you drinking? 

‘I can easily imagine a party of 9 adults drinking and getting carried away with reminiscing about childhoods. If you were talking at a reasonable level then there would be little chance of someone complaining about it, and pretty much zero chance of a member of staff having to act on the complaint.’ 

Meanwhile a fourth poster said: ‘You were probably way louder than you’re letting on! Big merry groups always are. You’re not in the wrong as such but neither was the restaurant – they can’t ignore complaints from other diners. You’re not more important or worthy just because you’re bringing more covers.’

Numerous commentators felt that the poster’s table had probably been more noisy than they realised – and had probably been quite annoying to other diners

And a fifth felt the same, writing: ‘For a waiter to intervene , you must have been pretty loud. My husband and I were out with another couple a few weeks ago and there was a table of 10 people who were so loud – everyone talking at once , one person with a screeching laugh and a couple of really loud men- that it was actually quite hard for us to hear each other.

‘The manager had a word with them . We couldn’t hear what was said but they weren’t happy.’ 

However, others were more sympathetic to the poster’s plight, with one respondent writing: ‘If the music was loud then if they accepted a booking of 9 people on a table they should expect the conversations to also be loud as otherwise how else can you hear each other?!?!

‘I think the complaint was unacceptable, especially if they were taking £800 from your party!

‘I would be leaving a 2* review saying nice food but very loud music so had to talk quite loudly to have a group conversation then got told off for talking too loudly which was rather rude.’  

Meanwhile, another suggested that the waiter had failed to handle the situation well, saying: ‘Yes, doesn’t sound like it was managed well by the waiter. Even if you were being loud there was no need to tell you there had been a complaint. Puts a whole awkwardness on your night.’ 

Some respondents were a bit more sympathetic towards the original poster, and suggested that it wasn’t something she should let ruin her evening

And a further forum user agreed that the eatery could have handled the situation differently, writing: ‘I think it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to set the vibe for the restaurant and if they want quiet dining they can, they won’t attract big lively tables etc but I guess that’s up to them. 

‘Just don’t go there again and aim for somewhere a little more lively! What annoys me is when people start telling others to be quiet themselves. Its not up to the punter to decide what customers they want/don’t want around them.’ 

Another poster suggested taking a more philosophical viewpoint, writing: ‘Focus on the nice parts of the evening and let this bit go.’ 

And a further Mumsnetter agreed, adding: ‘Being asked to keep it down a bit isn’t really something to be offended by, and it certainly shouldn’t spoil your evening. 

‘I would have asked the waiter to pass on our apologies to the table who complained but suggest they turn down the music to prevent people needing to raise their voices.’ 

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