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But if music can make the experience, it also can break it. Acid guitar or an anvil-shattering volume will certainly interfere with dinner. In reviewing a restaurant a few months ago, Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema took time from an overall favorable review to note that “the gawdawful music summons bad `80s porn.”

“It’s like anything else, you want to infuse your restaurant with your personality as an owner,” Sietsema said in a telephone interview. “I like it when it works and I hate it when it doesn’t.”