Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name

I have a fantasy about being a regular at the perfect bar.

When I walk in, I’m greeted with a big smile by a server who knows what I like.

Problem is, I’m not the kind of person who can easily cultivate regular status.

I’ve read articles that give pointers on becoming a regular, with suggestions like:

  • Go to your place of choice on the same day at the same time often, so it’s the likely to be the same people working
  • Sit in the same place, if you can
  • Order the same thing every time
  • Tip well

I don’t have a problem tipping well for good service, but the rest are a challenge.

My husband, John, was a Starbucks barista years ago. The majority of their customers ordered exactly the same thing, the same way, every time. The woman who liked her mocha with six squirts of chocolate didn’t deviate by getting a chamomile tea once in a while.

But my tastes are more variable. Generally I make my coffee at home and buying an espresso drink is a treat. Sometimes I want a chai latte with a shot of espresso. Sometimes I want a nonfat hazelnut latte. At holiday time, I’ll get a gingerbread latte or two as a treat. Once in a while, I get a standard brewed coffee because we’re out of milk at home and I like my java with milk and sugar.

It’s not just my preferences on what to get, but also where to get it, that shift.

For example, we are in New Orleans for a long visit and so far we’ve visited dba, Parasol’s, R’evolution, Praline Connection, Erin Rose/ Killer Po Boys, Dat Dog, Molly’s, Mellow Mushroom, Felix’s, the Spotted Cat, Superior Grill, Pat O’Brien’s, Fiorella’s … the only place we’ve eaten twice is Guy’s, and that’s because we tried to get a po boy sandwich at nearby Domilise’s, but it was closed that day. We were hungry and on foot and needed a plan B.

Preservation Hall is one of my favorite places on earth and we’ve only heard music there once since we’ve been in town.

When we moved to Brooklyn, I fantasized about developing a brunch ritual — maybe every weekend or every other weekend, we’d go to the same place and tell our friends so people could join us if they wanted.

The reality is, we aren’t creatures of habit.

I’ve written before about the difference between neophiles, who enjoy discovering new things and change, and neophobes, who prefer the known and familiar.

A EurekAlert press release explains: A neophile is a person with a very strong attraction to novelty. Neophiles tend to get bored easily with old things, whether they are traditions, daily routines or objects. Neophiles clamour to get the latest technology – mobile phones, computers, software etc. Neophiles like trying out new ideas. Neophobes are the opposite: they hate change. They often hate neophiles because they bring about change more quickly.

While I enjoy visiting an old favorite, often if we’re thinking of going out, I’m more interested in discovering someplace new to us, whether that’s a new spot that’s opened or an old, established place that’s maybe been recommended. We’re neophiles. We enjoy the exploration and discovery.

If I’m sitting at an old favorite place or ordering the same thing yet again, what if there’s a place or dish I’ll like even better that I haven’t even tried yet?

Still, we have a few places in Brooklyn where staffers greet us with a warm, friendly smile of recognition: our nearby Middle Eastern grocery store Sahadi’s; the pub around the corner from us, Pete’s Waterfront Ale House;  a great NOLA-infused restaurant in Red Hook called Fort Defiance; the bulk tea and spice shop below our apartment, Two for the Pot.

And maybe considering we aren’t very good at following the rules to develop regular status, we aren’t doing so bad.

Are you a regular someplace? Did you intentionally nurture that relationship or did it just happen over time?

Articles about being a regular:


Categories: food and drink, lifestyle

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. The trick is to develop a relationship with the people who work at a place you like. I have “regulars” that I only see a few times a year.

    • Great point, H.T.

      We actually have a few places in our neighborhood that we don’t go often, but when we do, we always get the same server and we’re always warmly greeted as regulars. A friendly server who’s good with names and faces goes a long way toward conveying that sense of being a regular.

  2. Funny to read this after spending the morning at the spot where everybody knows my name, a small gluten-free bakery that serves the best coffee in town. On Friday mornings, a geezer band plays: sometimes jazz, usually folk and folk rock. This morning, they played “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” while I quietly did my editing. I was aware that they could have been singing about me. There is something to be said for the comfortable understanding that develops when we reach the point of being “regulars.”

  3. This might sound weird, but I go to the grocery store at the same time every Monday morning (nobody there but me and the old people) and I always get in Dannette’s line when it’s time to check out, even if her line is the longest. We chat about movies and books and other interesting things. She never hassles me about my large number of coupons and always bags my groceries the way I like them to be bagged. It gives me a happy feeling when we say “see you next week” to each other.

    So, it doesn’t have to be a bar, restaurant, or even a coffee shop. There are other places to be a “regular” that might suit you.


  1. An open letter to the new owner of Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn | Newvine Growing

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