In D.C., restaurants go big

April 26, 2013

This weekend's cover story explores the dichotomy of D.C. restaurants: In the same period that our biggest restaurants (seating more than 700 guests) have opened, so, too, have our smallest (12 guests). We also explain what it takes to run a giant restaurant and the economies of scale that benefit the managers of the area's biggest eateries. And if you're looking for a place to host a giant group for your office party or graduation dinner, look no further. This graphic will give you a pretty good comparison of some of our mega and mini dining options.

Tippi Thole for The Washington Post. Photo: iStock photo.
Tippi Thole for The Washington Post. Photo: iStock photo.

Fun fact: These restaurants would have been dwarfed by what was once the biggest restaurant in Washington: Potomac, owned by Warner LeRoy, the restaurateur behind New York’s famous Tavern on the Green. According to an archival Post article, it was 40,000 square feet, requiring seven miles of electrical wiring, and could seat 1,000. It was inside Washington Harbour in Georgetown.

"It's a huge restaurant," LeRoy told The Post in 1986. "Luckily I've never had a failure." Those are words I’m sure he regrets putting in print, because the Washington Harbor restaurant opened in July 1986 and closed 15 months later, in October 1987.

The huge-restaurant trend shows no sign of slowing. Streetsense designer Herb Heiserman, interviewed for the cover story, said his company was working with Donald Trump to find a "larger-scale" restaurant to occupy part of the Old Post Office Building, which Trump plans to turn into a high-end hotel.

 

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Anne Kenderdine | April 26, 2013