The rocket scientist who owns D.C.'s new restaurant Thomas Foolery has a Ph.D in economics, and it shows in the pricing system.
According to "The Rules Of Thomas Foolery," dressing as Carlton from the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" will get you a 10 percent discount on any item. Tying a cherry stem into a knot with your tongue will earn you a $1 Cheerwine cherry soda. (The soda's free if you can complete the task within 10 seconds.)
If you can correctly identify the wines in your four-glass flight, you'll get $2 off. During a daily afternoon "Angry Hour," advertised on a sandwich board sitting outside on the sidewalk, asking for a drink in an authentically upset tone of voice will take $1 off the order. The stand-out scheme allows a game of Plinko to determine the price of Smirnoff Ice.
"We probably sell more Smirnoff than any other bar in town," says owner Steve Davis, a 33-year-old malt beverage aficionado and SpaceX Director of Advanced Projects, who we last met throwing an elaborate blind date Shabbat dinner.
The bar also sells candy, candy and shot combos, cocktail kits (they come with two airplane bottles of booze, plus soda and candy), dozens of bottled beers selected by non-politics-related D.C. personalities, as well as sandwiches and cookies made by local food trucks.
These offerings complement the bar's hopscotch court painted on the floor, Etch-A-Sketches mounted on the walls, costume closet and Mario Kart competitions.
Appealing to the city's big nonprofit sector, groups can fundraise by guest bartending for a night. Appealing to some other sector, the bathrooms contain stopwatches.
"I always say there are various ways to interpret it," says Davis, who also owns Mr. Yogato, a 5-year-old, also idiosyncratic, frozen yogurt store.
Since the bar opened earlier this month, Davis says he's seen a handful of people tie cherry stems into knots with their tongues, a small sampling of folks correctly identify the most and least expensive wines in their flights and some who finger the restaurant of being the exemplar of Washington's never-grow-up, adults-playing-kickball culture.
"I like opening fun places," Davis says, noting he's also open to making changes should one of his 49 investors -- including his parents, who suggested serving Smirnoff and proposed the bar's name -- or anyone else have a productively enjoyable idea.
"We were thinking of doing an Hour of Depression at 11, where all the wine is half price or whatever," he says. "Maybe we'll do that." And by the time a grilled cheese sandwich has been consumed, that new special is being inscribed on the sandwich board.
To close, here's a video of another Thomas Foolery discount being procured -- $1 off a cocktail kit; number six on the list of rules.
The premise will be familiar to fans of the movie Pitch Perfect:
Some have said a place this intentionally quirky can't last. But if early results on social media are anything to go by, people will miss Thomas Foolery if it's gone.
I don't care how gimmicky this bar is. I will be their Norm. http://t.co/UCb7kUh6GT
— Lindsay Applebaum (@lindsapple) July 16, 2013