The Answers Issue: Why are bars and restaurants so crowded?

Why is it that as soon as a restaurant or bar opens it becomes packed immediately but none of the established places become less crowded?

This question brings to mind Yogi Berra’s famous metaphysical contradiction: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” How can it be that crowds do not diminish even when the number of places to go increases? There are a number of factors at play:

  1. Math. The District’s population of about 618,000 swells to close to a million during the day, and an untold number of those people stay in town for happy hour.

  2. Novelty. Who doesn’t want to try the latest cool bar?

  3. Reverse psychology. Some will reason that the opening of a new place will shrink the crowd at the old places. They will not anticipate dozens of others having the same idea.

  4. Science. Nature abhors a vacuum. If a space starts to empty, matter will expand to fill it. Even if the number of bars on 14th Street NW tripled overnight, ChurchKey would still be packed. Sorry, it’s science.

Our Readers Say

This is a really dumb answer. While most of the answers in this issue are helpful, this answer actually ignores a major D.C. problem, notably its ridiculous zoning regulations. Why not try to be even a little helpful in answering this question?

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