Coping: The “Dear Outback” Note

Normally, I would not bring up a restaurant chain in a column. However, because the content concerns itself with the general public’s need, interest, and concern, I feel it is worthwhile posting this note on my website for all the world to see.

Both readers, in fact.

Let me say one thing up front: this is not a complaint.

There, we can send the lawyers back to their offices.

Secondly, it’s not to bitch and moan about some staff member. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As readers know, but you may not, I have been going to the eye doctor in Tyler, Texas for the past several weeks, and we have the appointments set up for 10-AM. This means by the time we’re done with the eye-doctoring, your Outback in Tyler is just opening up for lunch.

I really enjoy the prime rib sandwich..and Elaine’s quite taken with the salmon topped with bacon. So we will be back there, today.

Since Elaine is driving, and since my work day wraps up early (I start at 4 AM) I also indulge in a beer. Just seems the thing to do.

Oh, and the HR people can relax, too. Our sever – Travis I think it was – was careful to point out a website address where we could post remarks, but that seemed a little cold and impersonal, so I thought I would send along my suggestions in a little more public way.

The point? I mean if it is not the food (good and reasonable on the lunch items) or the drinks (nice ‘n cold, thank you), or the help (prompt, attentive) why this longish-already note?

Well, it’s about ya’ll’s taste in music.

I don’t know what theme you are after, but I was under the impression it was to bring a little bit of Australia to America and have some fun, too.

The music didn’t fit. It was vocal, and frankly didn’t fit with the décor.

So here comes the suggestion – implement it if you will.

You don’t know that living in the woods of East Texas, we still have Amazon Prime and computers are gradually taking over our home. We have both the Amazon Echo as well as the tiny little “Dot” unit. The pint-sized unit ($90 bucks a store?) and WiFi access is all you should need.

So here’s what you do: Have someone say to the Amazon unit:

“Alexa! Play Tune-In One Hundred Six Point Three, The Lounge.”

After a second, or three, Alexa will say
“Playing one hundred six point three, The Lounge, from Tune-in.

The station Tune-In page is here.

Here’s the reason so do this:

The Lounge is part of a group in Australia that seems to understand how the Internet streaming of music works. And, since The Lounge is in the Port Douglas area (which is somewhere down there) the music and even the ads – which are interesting, too – lend a real bit of authenticity to the Oz Experience you seem to be looking for in your restaurants.

To be sure, I haven’t conducted an extensive search of streams out of Oz, but I can’t help but think you should be able to pick up an Australian sports-talk outfit which could natter on endlessly about that other football they play, and so on and so forth.

When you eventually realize that as long as you have all that sunk cost of a big, expensive restaurant and you want more hours of facility utilization, I think people would find listening to Australian news-talk stations interesting, as well.  Try 2SM over here, for example.

I don’t think it would require any licensing on your part. Essentially, all you’d be doing is “turning on the radio”
and it’s not your fault the reception at 12,000 miles is perfect.

Don’t tell your colleagues about this.

Otherwise, the nautical restaurants or those with a Caribbean bent might begin streaming Key West stations.

Or, the local outfit that dabbles in Jamaican Food might stream some rastah music from Keeengston, yah mon… Try Mega-Jamz 98 – 7 over here, or look for more down home sounds. No shortage of streams.

So this is where shortwave listening went, huh…uh huh…

Another vertical where streaming could could be used in an interesting way would be to take some of those nominally decorated “western” restaurants and simply subscribe to one of the two-dozen or so streaming audio microenvironments that I’ve been cobbling up in my home studio.

Granted, I’m not much of a guitar player. But it’s the audio effect you’re after.

A few hours of “wild sound” recorded in high def audio from a local feed lot, for example, and you can almost taste the dust of the old Chisholm Trail. Which, in itself might be good for a bump in beer sales. Similarly, the odd pick or twang on a guitar – mixed in not too far above the cattle milling about – would conjure up the mental imagery the decorators were trying to get to.

You may be interested that I have a whole business plan to populate every room in our home with one of these “micro audio environments.”

It is surprisingly easy to do, too.

In our “northwest cabin” room (which has a custom 9-foot mural of San Francisco Bay from the Marin side, I’ve got plans for a 4 hour loop of rain, a bit of wind, showers, and loads of seagull sounds.

I’m planning surf and some Tahitian music – and plenty of drums – for our dining room here at the house which was cobbled up to look something like one of the old Trader Vic’s joints.

The music and sound helps to “fill in” what the decorations just begin to suggest. It makes for a much more immersive experience.

Eventually, we have plans to do one of our rooms in a semi-nautical theme…and again the concept of the visuals will be reinforced through clever sound use.

The first place I noticed the use of “area sound” to reinforce the deocrator objectives was in the Haunted House and Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disney organization rocks at this sort of thing. Since I have been having eye troubles lately, I’ve been focusing (if you will pardon the pun) on the other vectors of experience.

That should be enough to get you started.

If Amazon was polite, they would spiff us three more Dot units, which would hurry along our progress.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done finding which streams fit best with which rooms.

And, in your restaurants, what better way to augment the Sheilas and Blokes physical plant than with sound reinforcement from the real deal?

Thank you for your time and attention. Give Travis a bonus day off for being attentive to people and keeping my beer cold, right mate?


George and Elaine yada, yada

CC: The whole world.  (Port Douglas and Kingston Town, included)

Write when you get rich,


Coping: The “Dear Outback” Note — 9 Comments

  1. I generally dislike incessant music played EVERYWHERE you go. Somehow over time, people started living with continuous noise (radio, TV, Sony Walkman) and now feel uneasy with quiet. I have visited stores that just play the radio station complete with ads and it is terribly distracting when you are trying to make a purchase decision that requires brain power. Oh, that’s WHY they play it!

    We had a coupon for the local Red Brick Pizza so we went. The food was just OK. BUT they had TV monitors at every table, all of them playing a DIFFERENT CHANNEL! Pure sound torture. I suppose the reasoning is people just have to have the TV on ALL THE TIME!

    Are we all in some kind of Purgatory? Prison Planet? I think sound is one of the tortures they use for prisoners (loud acid rock, probably) to drive them MAD.

  2. OH.. no.. I am with them.. the talk station and mega jamz wasn’t in my personal taste where the station they played was.. played low its nice slow relaxing music where the other two are to busy.. or to interesting.. which would take away from the quiet conversation you would want to have with someone close to you.. just my opinion.. and like my wife tells me all the time.. no one cares about my opinion but me..

  3. I believe most businesses pay big royalties to stream music. The ASCAP agents roam the businesses to make sure they are play for the ASCAP members’ music. If every song the stations play aren’t covered by their organization, they should be good then. Play the wrong Madonna song, though, bang, fees and penalties!

  4. we stopped eating at the Outback in Tyler years ago , after so much terrible food that we just gave up …
    and it had been our favorite place for a long time-the steaks were incredible and there was a 45 minute wait to get seated because it was such a popular spot. we were passing by a couple of weeks ago, saw that it was open for lunch, and decided after 14 years to give it another chance. BAD idea: cold hamburger and tiny greasy french fries- barely cooked grey shrimp on top of fettuccine ; thoroughly disgusting. There were very few people in there, and l know why. l am glad you enjoy it, but l can’t understand how your food is good??? buena suerte , amigo.

  5. I totally agree with you, George, that the wrong music can really ruin one’s dining experience. If you’re eating Indian food, you want Indian music. Chinese food – Chinese music. The worst I ever experienced was listening to “oompa” music as if coming from a German Octoberfest in a shushi restaurant. Horrible. I have never returned, even though the food was good.

  6. combined with your flat screens as windows idea, I like it a lot.

  7. I agree George. It’s not just Outback. Most restaurants have music that is 1) not appropriate, and 2) too loud. Instrumental elevator music at a low level would be preferable.