I’m reading Good magazine’s neighborhood issue. They have one article on being a good regular and I just realized that J and I are totally awesome regulars. It’s why we’ve ended up being in such a rut when we go out. Do we want a new experience or do we want to go to the granola crunchy version of Cheers where everyone knows our name? You see our conundrum. Admittedly, restaurant staff seem to be friendlier in the Bay Area so we can’t chalk it up to our awesome personalities but we have learned a few things.
- Go in during the slow times. For B and Aunt Mary’s, we would go on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s when there are fewer people. Being in a restaurant that is a 1/4 full means you get a lot more attention and they remember you. As morning people, we hit our brunch places at 9:00 am well before the brunch rush.
- Thank the chef. It’s not only good to compliment the food but to acknowledge that the chef was responsible for it. Giving the chef props and asking about the chef goes a long way in getting the love from the restaurant. In fact, I learned how to roast beets because of the Bar Bambino chef.
- Give concrete feedback. We always give specifics about what we like and even what we don’t like. It’s all good to say “amazing” but to say “every pork dish that comes out of your kitchen is amazing” gets you the restaurant love.
- Make your preferences known. One of the best things about being a regular is having the staff know what you want before you want it. Our fav servers choose our wines because they know I like inky, fruity red and crisp, sweet whites. They know to double the vegetables and take out the starch. They also know to experiment on us, giving us things off menu that they are trying out that match what we like.
- Make reservations. This is something we need to do more. Mainly because it helps the restaurant plan for the night. They also can roll out the welcome wagon for you. Making sure you get seated with your favorite server. It also helps when they know ahead of time how many people are in your party.
- Tell your story. J loves to compliment a restaurant by starting with “I’m a Southern Boy so I know XYZ about barbecue/macncheese/ice tea.” You don’t need to spend 20 minutes talking about your childhood home but interesting nuggets here and there help to build rapport. This resulted in a server who also was a photographer giving us some of her prints in exchange for me completing a quilt her grandmother made. The details matter. We found out she took pictures and she found out I quilted.
- Thank the management. As you are walking out, give the management a holla and thank them for putting together such a great crew. It spreads the love around and gives the staff reinforcement that they are doing a good job.