July 17, 2012Cue up the playlist, dinner is served

How do restaurants choose what music to play?

You’ve scouted out the hottest new restaurant and pored over the menu to make sure it’s appropriate for all parties. Everything has been checked and double-checked to ensure the best dining experience for everyone. Then, when you walk in to the beautiful lobby and are greeted by the friendly hostess, your stomach sinks as you hear a kazoo-rendition of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way.”

OK, that example may be an exaggeration, but surely you’ve found yourself put off by the music blaring into your ears while you’re trying to have a nice meal and share some conversation. Of course, you’ve also sat down to find that not only does the wine pair perfectly with the food, but the musical accompaniment does as well.

Those instances are not likely to be a mistake, as restaurateurs are now hiring specialized companies to find the right kinds of music to play in specific venue. They pick everything from genre to time period to the volume to ensure that the restaurant leaves its customers with a positive experience.

How do these music curators decide what to play? When do they know their musical selections work, and how do they make any necessary adjustments? Why would one restaurant play rock and roll when another may play classical? What type of music do you like to listen to while you chow down?


Allen Klevens, founder of Prescriptive Music in Woodland Hills, CA, provides musical selection for a wide variety of restaurants and stores, including Pasadena’s own Lemonade