Neighborhood bars, once an urban institution, are disappearing at a blinding rate across the U.S. These former community cornerstones—typified by their regular clientele with no dress code, obvious theme or cover charge—are now falling out of style and favor. One in six neighborhood bars closed between 2004 and 2014, with a peak in 2014 when the national closing rate averaged more than six per day.
The unsettling trend isn’t stopping bold entrepreneurs from entering the fray, however, as roughly 334 new bars are opening per month. But these new neighborhood watering holes can’t compete with the rapid rate of those shutting down their doors and their taps—approximately 609 close each month.
One trend contributing to the decline of the neighborhood bar may be America’s seemingly insatiable appetite for establishments that also serve food in addition to alcoholic beverages. More new restaurants are opening across the country than bars. In addition, the rise of new casual dining options serving alcohol—such as fast “casual” food restaurants, brewpubs, as well as in-store dining and drinking options in grocery stores—are also likely contributing to the decline. Consumers today have more choice than ever as to when and where they can consume their beverages of choice.
Sadly, last calls are happening across the country. The top states hanging up closed signs include:
While consumers may love their well-worn, unglamorous neighborhood bars they are going to have start putting their money where their mouths are to keep them alive in today’s economy.