Restaurant Music: Finding your Flow

All you need to know to choose the perfect front-of-house beats


Choosing restaurant background music: what a tedious task, right?

Managers, bartenders, and servers from our Choco community know that the choice of which music they should play for their beloved front-of-house isn’t casual. It’s part of a plan - or a feeling. Background music has to be right for guests and for the team, but what is it about a track that makes it just the right track?

Music plays a major role in people’s perception of an experience. In a restaurant, everyone including guests, managers, and the entire front-of-house team, flows with the same tracks...complaints aside. The role of ambiance is not secondary in shaping an experience, whereas it has an influence on how much customers appreciate dining in your restaurants or your coworkers’ motivation and mood during service.

Ambiance literally means “surrounding” and refers to the mood of a certain environment. It is the result of different factors - anything that we can perceive, such as colors, sounds, smells - and the crowd taking part in this experience. Funny coincidence: “ambiance” also means “quality or character of a sound recording given by the space in which the sound occurs''.

The role of ambiance in restaurants has been the topic of different studies, especially when it comes to music. Here are some points you might want to consider before choosing your go-to track:


Customers satisfaction and sales

Understanding your restaurant demographics is a starting point to set your music standards. Now, we understand that suggesting you to play this track in your front-of-house might be a little bit misleading - especially when your vegan café is serving its first latte macchiato of the day.

But when we think of how playing the right music can comport a 9% difference in sales (source, there are some questions that we want to explore with you. Which speed, volume, or lyrics should you go for to please guests? What’s the best approach to create the perfect flow for your brand and community? How can you help your team focus?


Here’s the first dilemma: what if guests hear the “f word” while eating their quick and fancy lunch? What if the lyric is too melancholic?

A research on tipping behaviors associated with music lyrics states that “exposure to songs with prosocial lyrics is associated with prosocial behavior and accessibility of prosocial thoughts” - although this might mean more tips for your staff according to this research, it’s not necessarily true that positive lyrics enhances positive engagement (the results on prosocial thoughts and behaviors were in fact taken from laboratory tests, where people were sitting alone in a room).

On the other hand, listening to music with lyrics can help increase focus and boost productivity while doing repetitive tasks, which can come out handy for your team during the busiest service hours.

Although the question of whether your restaurant’s or bar’s community can be positively affected by lyrics remains open (most-likely, your people will turn up their nose to a song they simply don’t vibe with, whereas the lyrics are clean or explicit), we think that paying attention to this detail is important for any restaurant manager. And of course, getting some extra tips along with a joyful “I’m walking on sunshine” can’t definitely hurt.

What’s the right pace for your restaurant?

When it comes to determining the volume and speed of your restaurant music, there are some key facts you should be aware of. According to the National Restaurant Association, customers chew food 30% faster when they listen to uptempo beats, which also means that your restaurant's table turnover increases.

Also, the same source reports findings such as customers increasing their average ticket bill by 23% with slower music (mostly related to ordering drinks or add-ons like desserts or coffees), resulting in higher margins for restaurants.