We’ll see you in there.
Connect to customize your food & drink discovery.
What does it mean to become a regular?
The concept almost feels like it’s reserved for TV shows and rockstar chefs. Are there really people that walk into their local restaurant or bar and are greeted by the front of house staff like they’re family? Are they led to their favourite table automatically, without a second thought, all while the entire wait staff recites their usual order in perfect unison? Do the bartenders pour their drink instinctively, and pass it off to them while sliding a bowl full of secret menu snacks only reserved for royalty?
Although a little exaggerated, yes, you can be that person––you can become a regular at your favourite neighbourhood spot. You can walk into a place and be treated like you’re part of the team and have the staff be happy to see you. This is attainable, but you need to put the work in and it doesn’t come easy. But when it does come, and when you do become a regular, something special happens. A bond forms between you and the establishment, and you become someone that is welcomed a little more enthusiastically and they care that much more about you. Let's break down some of the ways you can achieve this.
Seems simple enough, right? Becoming a regular means that you will regularly show up at the establishment, and that’s easily done when you genuinely like the place. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and find somewhere that’s easily reachable at all points during the day. If you’re more of a bar person, search out one within walking distance that serves lunch. The more hours that they’re open, the more opportunities you have to show up. Trust me, they’ll start to remember you.
We don’t have to explain too in-depth about how difficult it has been to survive in the food industry these last few months. I’m sure some of your favourite places to eat no longer exist, while others are hanging on by threads. When you go into any establishment, be nice. Kindness is key. Smile when you walk in, thank your service staff, and tip them well. The small things you do make a big difference, and the people receiving that kindness will start to remember you for bringing in a little more brightness on some of their darkest days.
I understand you love your coffee with extra foam, your martinis need to be shaken a tiny bit and then stirred––you’re a four-olive person always, never three. If you want to become a regular, drop that stuff. There’s nothing more annoying than someone that comes in with an annoying request. As much as wait staff remember the kind people, they remember the annoying ones, and you definitely don’t want to be remembered as the latter. That’s not to say that you can't ask for something the way you like, but if you’re sending back the tartare because the bread was a little too toasted for your liking, then you’ll become the customer they can’t wait to see leave.
It's not hard to get a table when they know you’re coming. Make it part of your routine to show up at the bar or restaurant at the same time. The same service staff will usually be there, the same people cooking your food will recognize you, and it starts to become regular that you’re showing up on this day at this time. Since you’re the nice customer that always tips, the staff will be happy to seat you on the patio over the bar. If you mention that’s where you prefer to sit, they might have already saved the table for you because they already knew you’re coming. Look at that, you’re becoming a regular.
There is no better way to let people know how much you love your chosen spot than bringing others to enjoy it with you. Kindness is contagious, so when you bring like-minded people with you, the staff will recognize this and treat your guest with the same love and care that they do with you, making the experience even more enjoyable. As your spot becomes more in tun with your weekly appearances, they'll notice the lovely people you bring along with you, and recognize that you love this place as much as they love having you there.
As much as you want to be treated like you’re the only person they’re serving that night, in most realities you aren’t. Bars and restaurants are dependent on good paying customers and flipping tables, so keep this in mind when you go. The staff would be more than happy to serve you for hours on end if you’re buying, but if you’re nursing that same drink for a long period of time and you haven’t bought any food, then the business is losing money keeping you in that seat. Be mindful and be patient.
Your go-to spot may have had to pivot during these trying times. The menu might be smaller, they might be trying out a new delivery system or maybe they’re testing a completely new concept. Be open to these changes. You better believe that restaurants would keep doing what they’ve always been doing if it’s working. Change comes because change is needed, so support at all points and remaining optimistic are key to building that connection with the spot. Things are different, but that doesn’t mean they have to be worse. If we want restaurants to go back to how they once were, then we have to let them work out the kinks in order to prosper in the long run. Show your love for these places and they will show you love back.
There you have it, a foolproof guide to becoming a regular anywhere you want. Of course, each restaurant or bar is different, and the more you go to your chosen place, the more you’ll understand the dos and don'ts of the location. But, no matter what, the wait staff, the cooks and all of the management are grateful that you enjoy the place enough to go back time and time again during these trying times. You’re helping regardless, now let’s get them to remember your name.