Three years ago, Bad Saint co-owner Genevieve Villamora noticed something unusual on Sunday nights. Waits for a seat at the tiny Filipino restaurant typically spanned an hour or more for anyone arriving after 8:30 PM—if there were any seats left at all. But all of a sudden, the dining room had become a ghost town. The reason? Game of Thrones was on.
A couple seasons later, Villamora says people have wised up to the hack. Openings haven’t been reliable on Sunday nights as they previously were.
“It hasn’t been as consistent across the season as it has in the past,” she says. “For the season opener, which we thought was going to be total tumbleweed town, it actually was really super busy that night. But since then, it’s been kind of erratic.”
Tail Up Goat likewise isn’t seeing the Game of Thrones drop-off the way it had in the past. “More people are talking about it than I’ve ever heard talk about it, but we’re not seeing it in the same way as last year where literally half of our dining room would be empty on a Sunday,” says co-owner Jill Tyler. “And I feel like I’m hearing that from a lot of peers too.”
That said, Tail Up Goat typically has some seats left at the bar on a normal Sunday night if you don’t really care to find out what happens to the ‘Mad Queen’ in the finale this week. Bad Saint too tends to have immediate seatings or very short waits in its last hour of service any day of the week (including 9-10 PM on Sundays). The same goes for Petworth hotspot Himitsu. Co-owner Carlie Steiner isn’t sure whether the show has had a noticeable impact, but she says it’s easier to get a table than you might think.
“Sundays are pretty chill,” Steiner says. “We got that buzz that it was so hard to get in here for so long that it ended up being not a positive buzz. It’s hard to get in here on a Saturday, but pretty much every other day, it’s not like it used to be.”
That’s not to say the Game of Thrones effect is as dead as Cersei Lannister. At Maydan, the bar tends to clear out on Sunday nights when the show is airing (the dining room, less so). So if you don’t care about dragon fire, you can happily focus on the fire cooking your lamb kabob.