Issue 30

Food Service Warrior: The Regulars

Food Service Warrior: The Regulars

“Some times you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” How many people remember the show Cheers? It was a show about a little tavern in Boston that revolved around their regulars. Everyone remembers Norm, owner of the biggest bar tab, the mail carrier Cliff who knew everything, and the troubled psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier Crane.

I have worked in bars and taverns and the similarities are frightening. Almost everywhere I have worked you can find a Cliff or a Norm. People walk in and you know where they like to sit and what they are going to drink. It makes everyone a little more comfortable when they know your name and you know theirs. It’s these people who make your job more enjoyable. They are the people who come in often enough that it catches your attention and they like to talk and meet new people. I find the more people you can meet the more you can understand where people are coming from. What is the definition of a regular? It is someone who visits on a regular basis or one that visits for special reasons.

My experience with regulars is that they usually live in the area or have a common bond with someone in the establishment. This giving them a reason to start visiting your place of employment. There are many reasons for your guests to come back. Maybe you fixed the best Manhattan or the chef comes up with great dinner specials. They might have enjoyed the ambience or the company. Whatever the reason, they are coming back. Once you notice this you become more attentive of their needs.

Every guest that walks through the door is a potential regular. All it takes is good food, good service and a personality. The only bad part is if you falter in any of those areas, you might lose the interest of your potential regulars.

Through the years I have noticed that certain people like to be treated in certain ways. When they walk in some might like to be talked to as a friend and some might like to be treated as a customer. You have to learn this over time. You might be able to call them by their first name, by Mr. & Mrs. Or maybe Dr. All are acceptable. You just have to be cordial. You should always be observant of all your guest’s needs but be able to tell if something is wrong. If you neglect the fact that you poured a drink 20 minutes ago and the person is not drinking it there might be something wrong. Regulars tend to understand that things don’t always go smoothly but are not as harsh as people who expect everything to be 100% perfect. You should also realize what is appropriate. Your regulars are going to bring in their friends, sometimes it’s for a business meeting or for a night on the town. These are two reasons to be either casual or in a reserved, more professional mind frame. You don’t want a bartender to remind you of how drunk you got the night before if you are meeting for a job evaluation or promotion.

Likewise, as a bartender you expect to be treated a certain way. It’s nice to be treated with respect. You know who your priority guests are. They are the first people there. If you walk into a place and think you have seniority over people that are still waiting then you obviously haven’t been out much. As a regular you know that we know you are there. They have patience and don’t try to get your attention over other people. They usually tell you to help other people first because they know that you will get to them. They know your name and often have concerns and questions about your personal life outside of being a bartender or server.

What about the people you only see 3-4 times a year. Just because you don’t see them every week doesn’t mean they are not a regular. I am talking about the travelers. Guests that do a lot of traveling tend to find a place that they like and return every time they are in town. It is good to know that people from all over the world choose to come and see you when they have some free time in your hometown. Personally, I like to hear where they are from or where they are going.

I don’t think I could do my job without the regulars. The day-to-day repetitiveness of doing the same thing over and over would drive me nuts. I like the break from meeting strangers every time I go to work. I like having conversations that last more than 10 minutes. I like to know how you are doing, and when you ask how I’m doing. The personal interaction with the regulars is one of the few things that I can say I really enjoy. I have good and well knowledge of my regular customers and know about their lives, loves, marriages, jobs, deaths and graduations – all of their happenings in life – and sometimes this all happens in a bar and grill.

How fulfilling it is to be a part of “the circle of a life”? Cheers!

Jeremy Hunter

Jeremy Hunter

Jeremy Hunter has lived off and on in Nebraska for 18 years. He has been in the industry for nearly 20 years. His experience as a food service warrior spans from starting out as a dishwasher to owning his own pizza restaurant. He has been a part of every aspect of the industry, but loves being a server and bartender above all. When he is not behind the bar or helping customers, he can be found with a nice microbrew and a glass of Grand Marnier.

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