I like good burger places. I'm fairly picky about what good burger place means -- it most emphatically does not mean places where you need to jack your mouth open like the Coneheads to get the burger in there, nor does it mean great slabs o'meat, or a thousand other things between the meat and the bun.
One place that makes a decent -- not outstanding, but decent -- burger is Five Guys. A lot of people say that. In fact, what they say is that it's wonderful, magnificent, awesome....all of which suggests to me that they've been eating in McDonalds way too much. Still, its not bad, except for one thing.
They have a hard floor, hard tables, hard ceiling. Noises echo and linger. If you've got something to distract you -- say, you think that guy teetering on the high chair by the window is going to fall? -- it's not too bad. But if not....it can be painful.
I admit, part of this is my age. I've never liked particularly noisy venues, and now I actively dislike them. They ruin the experience, and they make me not want to come back.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one who's thinking about this, and unlike me, other people can actually do something about it, as this New York Times article lists. Most of the solutions are traditional, including softer surfaces and angled ceiling tiles. Some are obvious but usually overlooked, like teaching the busboys to lock down the utensils so they don't drop onto a hard surface. Some are high tech, like 'sonic foam' and the ability to 'dial in' the sound level that's acceptable.
Music to my ears.