Sound Makes The Scene At Yard House Restaurants
Ashly’s Protea DSP hardware is used in 23 of the 27 Yard House restaurants in southern California and across the country.
WEBSTER, NY—Yard House restaurants are separated from the clutter of contemporary eateries by a unique combination of three powerful ingredients: wonderfully prepared American fare, the world’s largest selection of draft beer—between 100 and 250 taps per restaurant—and classic rock that is very much in the foreground. CEO and founder Steele Platt places a premium on the sound systems that go into his restaurants, and subsequently, total AV costs are nearly $250,000 per restaurant. The 23 newest Yard House restaurants (of 27 total) rely on Ashly Protea DSP hardware ne24.24M to tailor source material so that it will cut through, while still retaining a pleasant overall tone, whether subdued for lunchtime business meetings or unleashed for late night revelry.
Yard House has a long-standing relationship with AV designer and installer No Static of Los Angeles, CA. The highest concentration of Yard House restaurants is in Southern California, but others are popping up in such far-flung locations as Waikiki, HI; Glenview, IL; and Dedham, MA. Eugene Gordon, CEO of No Static, works with Yard House CIO Phil Crawford to build AV systems worthy of the Yard House name.
“Platt places a premium on the intelligibility of vocals,” Gordon said. “Since most of the music is classic rock recorded in the 1960s and 1970s, it can be challenging to deliver a smooth, warm sound with punchy vocals that sits in the foreground of a crowded bar/restaurant, without becoming strident.” Platt is clearly invested in the music that plays at Yard House locations—he builds the playlists from scratch every day. “The music is never stagnant at a Yard House,” Crawford laughed.
“The Ashly Protea software and hardware is the solution that allows us to meet the elevated requirements of the Yard House brand,” Gordon said. “It provides all of the DSP we need to tailor the sound, along with elegant control for switching presets to match source material. In addition, Ashly products have proven to be rock-solid, which is important when we’re doing installations and maintaining systems that are literally thousands of miles from home. With the new NE-Series of Protea hardware, we can also easily monitor and control systems in, say, Hawaii or Massachusetts, from the comfort of our home offices in Southern California.”
Almost without exception, the Yard House restaurants rely on QSC amplification. For loudspeakers, some use EAW whereas others use Community. “Both of those speakers provide more punch than most restaurants would ask for,” Gordon said, “but Yard House is not like most restaurants. The reason we chose them is because they are very smooth and warm in the mid-range, which is right where the harshness of most of that old classic rock lurks. In addition, you can crank them up and they just sound better!”
User control is kept to a minimum, as the Ashly software automatically performs most functions. That allows managers to focus their attention on other things and prevents unwanted tampering of the system by even wellintentioned meddlers. Ashly W-1 wall plate remote controls provide simple volume control. “We have the volume knobs marked with positions for ‘lunch,’ ‘dinner,’ and ‘late night,’” Crawford said. “It’s that simple.”
At each new store, Gordon oversees the final system tweaks via the Ashly Protea software. “Gordon has an amazing ear,” Crawford admired. “He comes in during pre-opening events to work on the system when there are enough people around to simulate an early lunch crowd. Then he makes further adjustments during the actual opening, when we have a line stretching around the corner. As a result, the Yard House systems sound fantastic on everything from a Mick Jagger croon to a Beastie Boys bass line, regardless of whether it’s quiet or loud, or whether the place is just opening or packed wall-to-wall.”