The Occidental Restaurant, in the heart of Washington D.C., is one of the oldest and most well-known eateries in town. Since it opened in 1906, it has been the hub of many notable Americans, whose autographed portraits cover the restaurant’s walls. These framed pictures include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Robert Frost and Calvin Coolidge. The photos of presidents, cabinet members, senators, sports heroes, literary greats and celebrities have also accumulated over the years.
In 2007, the Occidental underwent a $2 million renovation, reopening for its 100th anniversary. The top-to-toe makeover left the restaurant looking more refined than ever, and business steadily increased. After a while, however, management could not ignore one issue, and decided to research a viable solution.
The kitchen of the Occidental was a pretty noisy place, but what else could you expect? It’s a popular restaurant and chefs and staff are always working quickly, preparing and serving meals. The sound of kitchen tools on the steel tables and instructions being given reverberated in the room. The dining area was separated from the kitchen by a hallway and door. But for some reason, sound still escaped and could be heard by guests. This was especially true whenever anyone entered or exited through the door.
Leo Casas of the Willard Hotel, where the Occidental is located, called Acoustical Solutions. He was talked through his noise control issue by Sales Rep Kevin McIver.
Kevin listened to Casas and examined the current floor plans of the kitchen and dining area. He noted that the placement of the single door, halfway down the hallway, and the lack of absorptive surfaces, caused noise from the kitchen to reverberate down the hall until it was released through the door.
He recommended removing the existing door and adding two soundproof doors: one at the start and end of the hallway. This would keep sound from entering the hallway at all when the first door is shut and minimize the chance that it would enter the dining area if the second door were open.
In addition to the doors, Kevin recommended sound absorption materials be installed throughout the hallway. So even if both doors were open momentarily, a majority of the noise would dissipate before making its way down the hallway to the dining area. AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels were installed along both walls. Sonex® Contour Panels were adhered to the existing ceiling. These products have a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) rating of 1.30 and 1.09, respectively at 1000 Hertz, meaning that they absorb virtually all sound that comes into contact with them. Besides excellent acoustical performance, these products are both easily cleaned, an important consideration in a restaurant. Because these AlphaSorb® Acoustic Panels were covered by Webcore fabric, which is wipe-able and available upon request by call only, both panels and ceiling tiles are able to be cleaned with a damp cloth.
The last detail taken into consideration was not only to keep the noise from escaping the kitchen, but to reduce it at the source. VibStop Vibration Damping Sheet were adhered to the underside of the steel tables, significantly quieting the noise made from tools and dishes striking the surfaces.
After the acoustical treatment, no kitchen noise could be heard in any area of the dining area. “The comments from the restaurant are very positive ones. They are very pleased”, said Leo Casas.