This post originally appeared on July 20, 2019, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.
A friend of mine is a regular at every restaurant, coffee shop, and bar in our neighborhood. He’s like the mayor of our little section of Brooklyn. It might be because he is exceedingly friendly. It might be because he has one arm, a cheat for getting people to remember you. Most likely, it’s a combination of both.
When I asked him how I, too, could achieve regular status in our favorite places, a longtime goal of mine, he said I should find a way to visibly stand out (he suggested a stupid hat). But I think becoming a true Cheers-level regular — where people actually know your name and maybe even what you drink and care about — involves being memorable on multiple vectors.
So I asked some co-workers today who are expert in this for tips in the hopes that I can work my way toward my regular status goal. Because it turns out just politely buying my coffee every day without some sort of attempt at true human interaction isn’t doing the trick for me!
They may be obvious to you but not to everyone.
- Be exceedingly friendly. That means (cringe) introducing yourself. Asking people their names and remembering them. Introducing yourself again. And again.
- Tip well.
- Have a go-to order.
- Dine during non-peak times.
- Go a lot within a short period of time.
- Sit at the bar or counter.
- If you are going to sit at a table, make reservations so they can track you.
- If there is a host or greeter, get to know them. They are paid to remember faces.
- Make a reservation on your way out.
- Ask about what to order. Talk about things on the menu (or that came off the menu that you miss).
- If there are other regulars, make small talk with them.
- If you order a bottle of wine, offer your bartender or server a taste.
- Go on the same day of the week to get the same staffers. Home in on one person and cultivate that relationship (but don’t be a creep, obv).
- Go alone and try to stay off your phone.
Have any other tips as a customer or a server/owner/bartender/barista? Let me know!
- Intel: NYC cookie favorite Levain plans to expand nationally; chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes From a Young Black Chef will become a movie starring Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You); slop shop Dig Inn is now called Dig; 10-year-old SF restaurant Commonwealth will close next month after a rent hike; a former server sued Gramercy Tavern for enforcing a gender-specific dress code; the Minnesota State Fair will no longer serve doughnuts with a syringe of jelly on the side after a successful Change.org petition; yet-to-debut video platform Quibi just announced two new food shows; police shut down an AriZona Iced Tea sneaker pop-up due to crowd control issues; McDonald’s would like to track your license plate number; chef JJ Johnson’s restaurant Henry closed; a restaurant focused on Gullah Geechee cuisine opened in Atlanta; Charleston’s McCrady’s Tavern will close at the end of July; swanky international izakaya chain Zuma can’t be called Zuma in Boston; canned cocktails are actually good now; and you can buy fruit on Etsy now.
- We’re now running one of my favorite newsletters, Brette Warshaw’s ‘What’s the Difference?’, as a column on Eater. First up: What’s the difference between free-range, cage-free, and pasture-raised eggs?
- The inimitable Robert Sietsema reflects on his two months recovering from a bike crash and how it affected his eating and food explorations.
- The latest food trend in New York: fancified French onion dip.
- On new movieThe Farewell and the complicated nature of food rituals.
- You should eat wafu spaghetti in Japan.
This Week on the Podcast
This week on the Eater Upsell, Daniel and I discuss the demise of Dean & Deluca, a lawsuit about waitstaff uniforms, a broken fridge at a food hall, and so much more.
- Actually maybe we should all cook our freezer burritos in the oven. [GQ]
- Why so many surprising places (hotels, fast food chains, etc.) have beloved chocolate chip cookies. [Taste]
- 16 Black chefs changing food in America. [NYT]
- Drooling over Food 52’s new product line. [Food52]
- This genius duo sells international snacks over Instagram. [Grub Street]
- Come for the list of powerful food TV stars, stay for the curious prop styling and hilarious Photoshop that somehow erases Chang’s leg. [THR]
- Here’s a worthwhile first person piece about how much more stressful working in the service sector has gotten in the last decade. [Vox.com]