Jim Duffy comment: Canny pubs should serve up a quiet night out

A quick Google of “quiet bars near me” in any city will throw up one or two venues that look good. Plenty of seating, a mixture of soft seats and stools and serene-looking surroundings. The harsh reality these days is that when you get there, what was in the picture online is rarely the reality. Noise, rowdy people and excruciatingly loud music mean that the quiet bar scenario does not exist. What an opportunity for an entrepreneur to build a new brand.

A big opportunity is the need for about half the population to have peace and quiet, says Duffy. Picture: contributed.
A big opportunity is the need for about half the population to have peace and quiet, says Duffy. Picture: contributed.

Over the last week I have been travelling and looking in the evening for a quiet bar and restaurant to chill with friends. A place where you can hear yourself think. A place with no loudmouth drunks on the Prosecco giving it large. A place where, when eating your food, you do not have to shout across to your friend just to ask if they are enjoying it. On occasions this week I simply could not hear what was being said at my table for the loud noise and people around me. By the end of the night I was exhausted and could not wait to get out these establishments. And there are many more like me.

A bit of science, eh? Anyone who has studied human behaviours will know that there are extroverts and introverts. Extroverts are people who get their energy from being around others. They thrive on human interaction and have no problem with big groups. They love a good knees-up and loud situations. The more hammered they get, the louder they and their extrovert chums get.

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On the other end of the spectrum are the introverts. These people get their ­energy from being alone and enjoy quiet ­settings with smaller groups. They are ­mindful of being loud and shirk away from noisy situations. A bit like a parabolic in maths, these are two extremes that meet somewhere in the middle. The big opportunity for the entrepreneur out there is the need for about half the population to have peace and quiet, even when in social situations.

This “entrepreneurial painpoint” has not yet been exploited properly either. So the gap in the market is massive, I would suggest, which means it will have a big following that will pay a premium just to access it. The same way consumers pay to use Apple, they will pay to be part of this quiet revolution. Think about it this way. How many people entering a restaurant ask for a quiet table? How many people book holidays that are far away from the bustling crowd? Exactly, because the bustling crowd is noisy and annoying. Some people like a Calvin Harris pool party holiday in Vegas, while others prefer a small retreat on a hill in Vietnam. It is the latter that will also pay the premium for the quiet bar.

So, what would our new bar be called? Solitude? Nirvana? Quiet? The branding I will leave with you for now. These new bars would probably look not much different from many new bars, but with individual seats and armchairs and booths with high partitions. So, in actual fact setting up a quiet bar would not cost any extra investment, just better planning of the seating and soundproofing.

No rock music, just some quiet Ibiza sunset tracks at night and some classical in the daytime. No gentle reminders that loud noise will result in you being thrown out. No, big warning signs that management can ask anyone to shush or get turfed. In fact, these bars would police themselves as quiet people are generally more respectful of other quiet people. So, the social code would prevail as we all enjoyed our drinks and the mellow ambience.

I would invest in this type of bar right now and with so many of my fellow introverts, I’d frequent it, knowing that it would be a sanctuary of low noise, with no work groups on the razz and no stag dos. And I am not alone.

So, there is the challenge for some budding entrepreneur or established bar operator: create a special space for the quiet among us who want a good night out, but to hear ourselves think at the same time and will pay a wee bit extra for the experience. I look forward to someone taking up the challenge.

- Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special