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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT - Aoife McEl­wain

MU­SIC IN RESTAU­RANTS

Last week, I joined a panel of speak­ers at The Big Grill Fes­ti­val, the BBQ-based day out in Dublin’s Her­bert Park, to dis­cuss mu­sic in restau­rants. Tom Dunne talked about the playlists he cu­rates for his wife Au­drey McDon­ald’s restau­rant, The Cook­book Cafe, in Glasthule, while Eoin Cre­gan of Body­tonic talked about WigWam’s straight­for­ward mu­si­cal pol­icy of funk and soul.

Aran McMa­hon of Cafe Rua in Castle­bar, Co Mayo, talked about how he and his sis­ter and busi­ness part­ner Colleen ap­proach pro­gram­ming mu­sic for their cafes. They view it as im­por­tant as other decor de­tails. McMa­hon quoted a Tim Magee ar­ti­cle in The Gloss about mu­sic in restau­rants, and how we shouldn’t think of it in terms of good or bad, but in terms of right or wrong.

A per­son’s love of mu­sic is as sub­jec­tive as a love of food. Our panel agreed that the best a restau­rant can do is to choose mu­sic that re­flects their own taste, and their own ethos. Though I agree with this in prin­ci­pal, I can’t abide ir­rel­e­vant live back­ground mu­sic in restau­rants. When I’m half­way through a meal and I see some­one set­ting up with their gui­tar in the cor­ner, ready to launch into Girl from Ipanema, I groan.

There’s a prece­dent for eye-rolling when it comes to live mu­sic in restau­rants. In the ex­cel­lent blog, Restau­rant-ing Through His­tory, au­thor Jan Whi­taker ref­er­ences an early men­tion of mu­sic in restau­rants she un­cov­ered in her re­search on the his­tory of US restau­rants. “The first men­tion of mu­sic I’ve dis­cov­ered was in 1866, in a de­scrip­tion of a small French restau­rant in New York with an oys­ter-shell framed al­cove where “some­times a boy with a vi­o­lin will seem to af­ford mu­sic to the feast”. Note the neg­a­tively tinged words “seem to af­ford”. Through­out his­tory there have been plenty of crit­ics of mu­si­cal “din” in restau­rants.

For my part in the panel, I did a lit­tle re­search on the be­havioural psy­chol­ogy of mu­sic in restau­rants, and what in­flu­ence it has on pa­trons. Un­sur­pris­ingly, there are a heap of stud­ies on how mu­sic in­flu­ences the be­havioural pat­terns of din­ers, in­clud­ing how long they stay and how much they spend.

Back in 1986, mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sor Ron­ald E Mil­li­man wrote a re­port en­ti­tled The In­flu­ence of Back­ground Mu­sic on the Be­hav­iour of Restau­rant Pa­trons for the Jour­nal of Con­sumer Re­search. In it, he out­lines his find­ings around the tempo of mu­sic, and the sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect it had on pur­chases and length of stay. The study found that, while tempo didn’t have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the amount of food pur­chased within the time­frame, it did in­flu­ence the amount of al­co­hol and bar pur­chases. When the tempo was slower, Mil­li­man’s team found that peo­ple pur­chased more drinks, and the av­er­age spend was $30.47, as op­posed to $21.62 when the mu­sic was fast-paced. This some­what sur­pris­ing re­sult is ex­plained by Mil­li­man as an ex­am­ple of how peo­ple will only eat so much food. “It is not ac­cept­able in most sit­u­a­tions to con­sume more than one en­tree of food,” Mil­li­man writes. “How­ever, it is quite ac­cept­able to con­sume more than one (per­haps sev­eral) al­co­holic bev­er­ages. Thus, in a re­lax­ing ap­proach at­mo­sphere, pa­trons con­sumed more al­co­holic bev­er­ages.”

In a more re­cent study con­ducted by Stephanie Wil­son from the Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales in Aus­tralia in 2003, the in­flu­ence of dif­fer­ent types of mu­sic and the amount of money spent was an­a­lysed. Wil­son took con­trol of the sound sys­tem at Syd­ney restau­rant Out of Africa and kept an eye on how much peo­ple were spend­ing. With no mu­sic, the av­er­age spend was $17.12. Easy-lis­ten­ing mu­sic had an av­er­age spend of $19.67, clas­si­cal was $20.20, and pop was $21.01. The type of mu­sic that en­cour­aged the high­est av­er­age spend in Wil­son’s study was jazz, at $21.82. This study seems to sup­port the no­tion that up­beat mu­sic, such as pop and jazz, en­cour­ages pa­trons to spend more time in a restau­rants, in­evitably spend­ing more money while there.

An­other writer with a “less is more” ap­proach to mu­sic in restau­rants is writer Ge­orge Prochnik, au­thor of In Pur­suit of Si­lence: Lis­ten­ing for Mean­ing in a World of Noise (2010). In a Daily Beast ar­ti­cle pub­lished in 2010, Prochnik out­lines some of his re­search and the­o­ries be­hind how restau­rants get us drunk with their mu­sic. He ar­gues that loud mu­sic draws peo­ple in by giv­ing the im­pres­sion of a lively and hence suc­cess­ful restau­rant. He ref­er­ences re­search by Fair­field Uni­ver­sity that showed how peo­ple’s rate of chew­ing was in­flu­enced by fast mu­sic, and how restau­rants built playlists around this data. Prochnik also looks at the in­flu­ence restau­rant decor has on acous­tics. “There’s the decade-old shift in vis­ual aes­thet­ics to­ward hard-bod­ied, noise-ric­o­chet­ing in­te­rior decor – con­crete floors, un­padded tables and chairs. Some­where along the way, we be­gan think­ing of table­cloths, car­pets and soft ceil­ings as signs of weak­ness.”

In­deed, the modern trend for in­dus­trial, stripped-back decor has an in­flu­ence on how we are phys­i­cally ab­sorb­ing the mu­sic be­ing played, which can lead to dis­com­fort.

re­flect the same care and at­ten­tion to de­tail in terms of in­gre­di­ents and sourc­ing. Birdy also has plans to run “cup­ping” classes, oth­er­wise known as cof­fee-tast­ing classes, in the com­ing weeks.

The hos­tel guests may not re­alise that they have such a great barista at their dis­posal, and the sur­round­ing of­fice work­ers and com­muters may also not know what’s within their reach ei­ther.

The cof­fee bar is al­most di­rectly in front of you as you walk in the door and although there’s space to sit down to en­joy your cof­fee, it feels bet­ter suited to a grab-and-go sit­u­a­tion. This is the ideal place to pick up a great cof­fee on your way to work or to take with you on your next bus jour­ney from Busáras. AMcE

Gail­lot et Gray 59 Clan­bras­sil Street Lower Dublin 8 www.face­book.com/ Gail­lotGrayP 01-4547781

“If you have nice in­gre­di­ents and stay true to them, it’ll taste good,” Emma Gray tells me, as she foams the milk for my flat white in her French Bak­ery and Pizze­ria on Clan­bras­sil St. She is one half of Gail­lot et Gray. Her part­ner is Gilles Gail­lot and to­gether they opened up their French-style, wood-fired pizze­ria on Clan­bras­sil Street in Dublin 8 in March of this year.

Their even­ing trade (which runs from 4pm to 10pm, Tues­day through Satur­day) of take­away pizza has been thriv­ing, with my cur­rent favourite be­ing the chorizo and fresh chilli pizza (¤14). The in­te­ri­ors, de­signed by Gray, are sim­ple and in­dus­trial, with a large com­mu­nal ta­ble and a few other seats for those who want to eat-in. Once they had found their feet in the evenings, they ex­tended their open­ing hours to in­clude a French Bak­ery from 8am to 2pm from Tues­day through to Satur­day. There are huge crois­sants and caramel-coloured pain au choco­late (¤1.50 each), dainty madeleine cakes (80c each or three for ¤2), and a brioche loaf (¤7.50 or ¤2.50 for a slice, toasted). Per­haps the most cov­eted (by me, any­way) is the tra­di­tional French boule loaves (¤4.50) that come fresh out of the pizza oven ev­ery day.

Gail­lot et Gray’s baker, Peter Lee, uses Gilles’ recipe for a tra­di­tional rus­tic boule which is made from a com­bi­na­tion of slow-fer­mented yeast and sour­dough starter, so it’s got a bit of a tang, but the con­sis­tency is a spongier treat than a crunchy sour­dough.

They use two types of flour in the bread, a plain white flour and a buck­wheat and lin­seed flour, giv­ing these loaves an ex­tra bite of flavour.

On Satur­days, they soon found that the pas­tries and bread were sell­ing out be­fore 10.30am, so they started of­fer­ing a se­lec­tion of yummy things on slices of their toasted boule or brioche, such as smashed avocado or but­ter­bean (4.50).

The cof­fee is from Baobab Roast­ers, a duo based in Cel­bridge, whose Brazil­ian blend is the house bean of choice at Gail­lot et Gray. Tea is by In­tel­li­gent Tea, an ex­cel­lent herbal tea made by Freda Wolfe from Ir­ish herbs at Wild Ir­ish Foods. At Gail­lot et Gray, the em­pha­sis is on thought­ful sim­plic­ity. For the cus­tomer, this trans­lates into a straight­for­ward yet spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence. Tak­ing home a freshly baked loaf of rus­tic French bread and a well-made cof­fee, with your pock­ets stuffed with flaky crois­sants, is a pretty great start to any day. AMcE

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