What Effect Does Restaurant Music Have on a Dining Experience?

I recently dined at one of Oakland’s newest restaurants, Haven at Jack London Square. It’s a beautiful space with Kim Alter and her team doing amazing things in the kitchen and behind the bar. But I noticed something else: the restaurant’s unique playlist.

Music in a restaurant is something that I don’t normally notice unless it gets to be annoying. It’s either too loud or not the type of music I would listen to or just doesn’t suit the restaurant’s environment or setting. But at Haven, it was something different.

I was told by my server that owner Daniel Patterson worked on the music list himself. It was an eclectic mix of acts from Blind Pilot to M83 to Gotye and many more. It was really one of the first times where I sat in a restaurant and was enjoying my meal, but in between bites, was also listening for what song was coming up next.

Another restaurant that comes to mind when I think of music is ICHI Sushi in Bernal Heights. Chef/owner Tim Archuleta has some great tunes playing over his speakers as well. In fact, the last time I visited, I believe his playlist included Snoop Dogg. My friends, who were visiting from out of town, mentioned it to me as soon as we walked in. But it really fits Tim and the restaurant to a T.

To me, environment and setting in a restaurant can really make or break a meal. The surrounding and ambience has to match what is being served. It is hard for me to justify eating at a fine dining establishment and having cheesy decor filling the space. On the opposite end, I don’t mind a restaurant with an understated and simple decor that focuses on homey, simplistic dishes. To that same point, I would expect the music to match the setting. Tim and Daniel’s playlists would probably not fit in at Gary Danko or La Folie. But some of the operatic concertos I hear in Italian restaurants in North Beach would not work in their restaurants either.

So does music affect your experience when eating out? Do you even hear the music playing in the background? Hate it or love it, let us know.



Photo Credit: David Shankbone, via Wikimedia Commons