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How Do I Become a ‘Regular’?

Looking for a Cheers experience at your favorite restaurant or bar? The Main Line concierge offers his personal how-to for loyal patrons.

Kimberly M. of Ardmore writes: My husband and I go to the same bar once or twice a week. We really enjoy the food but never feel like we are considered “regulars” there. Do you have any suggestions on how we can change their perception of us? For what we’re spending, it would be nice to get some extra attention instead of being outsiders.

Hi Kimberly,

Being a regular (and receiving the friendly perks that can come with that title) is always a special feeling. Here are some tips for getting noticed.

If you’re old enough to remember the television show Cheers, you know who the ultimate regular is: Norm! George Wendt’s lovable character stood out because he was engaging, always sat at the same barstool, and turned the place into one where everybody knew his name. I definitely recommend following his lead by trying to snag the same seats every time and making sure the bartender knows your name.

Of course, the responsibility of learning customers’ names should ultimately fall to the ones doing the pouring. I asked Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ’s Restaurant & Drinkery in Paoli, how his team works to create relationships with customers.

“Terri and I always go out to relax at an area bar on Sundays, and she and I would both notice that—out of 15 different places we went to—only once did someone take the time to tell us his name, but he never asked for ours,” Miller says. “So, we tell our bartenders to not only introduce themselves, they should also make it a point to ask the patron’s name and then shake that person’s hand. By the third visit, the bartender should automatically remember their name as well as their drink of choice.”

In my own experience, being a regular also means having some sort of relationship with other regulars. Places like TJ’s, Creed’s Seafood & Steaks in King of Prussia and Malvern’s Cedar Hollow Inn emanate that Cheersian dynamic, due partly to the banter between customers.

Your overall stock also rises if you support your local pub in its charitable endeavors, sign up for the annual golf outing, or join the bar’s softball team. In effect, you go well beyond being “just a customer” to having a vested interest. In fact, regulars will need to spend some extra money in order to reap a quid pro quo, i.e., they’re never stingy with a tip and they’ll provide an extra something (for staffers) around the holidays.

Most of all, being a regular means maintaining an ongoing relationship with everyone at your favorite watering hole. The choice is yours: Be silent and standoffish, or be like “Norm!”

Hospitably Yours,

Share your tips for becoming a regular by leaving a comment below.

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