A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 13, 2009
“No one wants to eat in an empty restaurant”

"No one wants to eat in an empty restaurant” (or “Nobody wants to eat in an empty restaurant") means that, while people enjoy not waiting in a crowded restaurant, an empty restaurant usually signifies a restaurant that no one wants to eat at (because of bad food, high prices, poor service, health department problems, etc.). An empty restaurant is often a signal that a restaurant is about to go out of business.

The hour of the day when a restaurant is empty is also important. A restaurant might normally be empty at about three p.m.—between lunch and dinner. A 24-hour restaurant might normally be empty at 3 a.m. An empty restaurant during the lunch or dinner hours is what the proverb (cited in print since at least the 1980s) usually refers to. The proverb also applies to shopping at an empty store.


Google Books
Simulation & games
Published 1983
Item notes: v. 14
Pg. 403:
People do not want to eat in an empty restaurant, but they do not like to stand in line to eat in a restaurant either.

Google Groups: ba. food
Newsgroups: ba.food
From: (Danny Low)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1993 19:03:33 GMT
Local: Mon, Jan 18 1993 2:03 pm
Subject: Re: We Be Sushi - Sunnyvale - Excellent!

People always like to say they want to eat at that “undiscovered” gem of a restaurant (which We Be Sushi seems to be.) However when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, most people will NOT go into an empty or near empty restaurant. So the first trick of the trade any restauranteur learns is to slow the service when business is slow so the place does not look so empty.

14 April 1995, Sacramento (CA) Bee:
“No one likes to eat in an empty restaurant,” he said. 

Google Groups: pdx.soc
Newsgroups: pdx.soc
From: (Andrew)
Date: 24 Apr 2001 22:57:38 GMT
Local: Tues, Apr 24 2001 5:57 pm
Subject: Re: Whither?

It takes momentum.  Interesting people who drift through see nothing interesting and move on.  You know, no one likes to eat in an empty restaurant…

Business Week
SEPTEMBER 19, 2001
BYTE OF THE APPLE
By Charles Haddad
Sowing the Seeds of Mac Mania
Critics call Apple’s new retail-outlet strategy crazy. I say it’s a brilliant way for the faithful to spread the word to newcomers

(...)
No one wants to eat at an empty restaurant. Ditto for a computer store.

Google Books
The Power of Persuasion:
How we’re bought and sold

By Robert Levine
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
2003
Pg. 142:
When something is too easily available, in fact, it can seem less attractive. Who likes to eat in an empty restaurant? We tell ourselves we chose the busy restaurant because it probably serves better food but it may be the line that convinces us the restaurant is worth the wait. It’s the psychological component of the law of supply and demand. If we can be persuaded that a product or service is difficult to attain, we want it more.

Google Books
The Wisdom of Crowds:
Why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies, and nations

By James Surowiecki
New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
2004
Pg. 63:
The same might also be said, though less definitively, about cultural products (like TV shows) where part of why we watch the show is to talk about it with our friends, or even restaurants, since no one likes to eat in an empty restaurant.

Not About Food - Chowhound
Eating at an empty restaurant?
This is something that has crossed my mind a few times, so I figured I would bring it up with a group of people who (potentially) enjoy eating out. Do you mind/like/dislike eating at an empty restaurant?

Personally, I feel really uncomfortable eating anywhere your party makes up the entire dining population and I would even say I feel strange when only 10-15% of the tables are full. I’m not sure what it is, but I think I feel like I’m being watched. Also, there is a big of catholic guilt ingrained into me that makes me feel really bad for the owners and waitstaff when the place is so empty. I tend to sit there a worry about the waitstaff, chef, owner, etc. I’m definately not saying that I only like eating at crowded places, more that I just don’t like being the only one dining at there.

Does anyone else feel this way and purposly avoid empty restaurants?
KaraK Mar 05, 2009 02:55PM
(...)
hence the old saying “No one wants to eat in an empty restaurant”. It’s not only creepy but calls the quality of the insuing meal into question. Empty Thai place at 445pm. no biggie........same restaurant empty at 730pm? Im walking right by.......
nkeane Mar 05, 2009 03:59PM

Forbes.com
Daily Trades
Bear Beaters In Five Flavors

David Penn, TradingMarkets, 03.13.09, 02:38 PM EDT
(...)
After all, who wants to eat in an empty restaurant? Or shop in an empty store?

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, May 13, 2009 • Permalink


I see some restaurants where people don’t mind literally waiting in line just to eat in them. Full restaurant indicates that the food is yummy.

Posted by Shine  on  01/16  at  07:19 AM

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