Becoming A Regular
“Regular” you say? “Who wants to be regular??” No, not “regular,” or “irregular,” “A Regular.” That is, someone who regularly frequents a place of business, in this case a restaurant, because they like it. This behavior is frequently accompanied by any or all of the following: A warm reception by the hostess or Maître d’, making special accommodations just for you, free food and/or booze, and a feeling of importance, hospitality, and familiarity, all of which are the establishments way of thanking you for your frequent and continued patronage. We all like to feel important every so often, so let see how one goes about doing this…
Pick a place
So it’s important to pick a place you actually want to go often. We are not talking about your local pub “where everybody knows your name” either. That would just make you the town drunk, which in a town like NYC is a pretty sad thing. It should be a place within some proximity to where you live or work. It should have good food with a menu that you won’t get tired of. That is not to say the menu has to be vast, but something you like eating on a regular basis. I probably wouldn’t choose the Ethiopian place.
It also helps if the place is a bit upscale for two reasons. First, this sort of place usually has the staff, means and experience to know how to recognize and treat a regular. Secondly, there is little value in being recognized as the “regular” at the Chinese takeout around the corner. You may get a free can of Coke, but not much else.
Lastly, pick a place that has been around a while since the effort of becoming a regular will be wasted if they close in six months.
Make Yourself Known
You don’t have to be overly gregarious, or a loudmouth, but be pleasant, talk to the Maître d’, or the bartender, smile and be friendly. I have found that if you start by dining at the bar (see my article on single dining) and get to know the bartender, then you can get to know the rest of the staff. Introduce yourself on the way in, and on the way out thank them and tell them you will be back. This leads us to our third and final point.
You are of course going to be a regular so why not go back shortly after your first visit. Go the following week and maybe even the week after that. This is the definition of a regular after all. Each time say hello, be pleasant and tip well. They will get to know you. You can then spread out the visits a bit, but they will remember you.
If it is a very popular place and hard to get reservations at, drop some cash the first time around and on the way out ask to make your reservation for the next time. It is unlikely they will turn you down after you just paid a big bill. No matter how “booked” a restaurant is they always have tables for VIP’s, of which a regular is one.
What this means to you
So let’s look at how this can work in your favor. First, if you bring a date to such a place, she will not only be impressed that they know you, but they will take care of you which will make the night all the more special.
Secondly, no matter when you go, you are likely to get something for free. Booze, an appetizer, or maybe just the best waiter in the place.
Lastly, when its crunch time, you are covered. Like a Friday night and four people are in from out of town and every nice place is booked. Go here! You want to throw a birthday party for 20 people and need to make sure you get taken care of, stress free, and get a good deal. Go here!
So go ahead, pick a place and be a regular, it’s very satisfying and one of the most pleasant ways to dine out.