At Charlie Bird in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, diners hear hip-hop from The Notorious B.I.G. while they twirl their tagliatelle. A few blocks away at Carbone, lobster ravioli comes with 1960s love songs such as “Just One Look.” Restaurant playlists have a critical role in shaping a diner’s experience and an establishment’s image. Music may make guests feel upbeat or calm.
The right playlist can ward off a stuffy customer and attract a stylish one. It may also prevent the staff mutinies that come with hearing the same song 10,000 times.
Getting access to an eclectic mix of music has gotten easier now that Spotify and other music-streaming services offer a vast selection and simplified creation of playlists. Whether hiring music professionals or working in-house, restaurant owners are taking full advantage, meticulously managing their music to create the desired effect.“ I think it’s possible to drink great Burgundy, eat great food, and listen to music that makes your head bob at the same time,” says Charlie Bird chef Ryan Hardy, describing himself and his business partner as “hip-hop heads” who wanted restaurant guests to feel like they were being invited into their homes.
To Mr. Hardy, that meant music would play a prominent role, with few apologies for it being predominantly rap and containing explicit lyrics. “If you can’t handle it as an adult in downtown New York City, you can’t handle it,” Mr. Hardy says.