Food

Have You Been a Regular at a Restaurant?

An Ode to Being a Restaurant Regular

A couple months before I moved to New York, back in 2005, I came to the city to scope things out. I ended up at a bar playing pool into the wee hours with a chatty boy with black hair and dark glasses. Three months later, when I landed in that same neighborhood, I stopped by the bar and there he was again, sipping a Budweiser, pool stick in hand…

“What are the chances?” I exclaimed as we hugged. He quickly explained, very high. He hung out at the dive around the corner from my Lower East Side shoebox apartment all. the. time. And soon enough, so did I. When your bedroom is so tiny that the only place to store your clothes is on a rod hung over your bed, you can either spend your time horizontal planning your next outfit or out at your favorite local spot. Maybe it’s a cafe, maybe it’s a restaurant. For me, it was the bar that became an extension of my home — a living room big enough to fit more than one chair, always filled with familiar faces, and yes, where everybody knows your name.

Cheers, Central Perk, The Peach Pit — there’s a reason hangouts often play supporting roles in our favorite TV shows. We all have those places that provide us with comfort and consistency. “Regulars make a city like New York feel like a small town,” says Carlos Quirarte, co-owner of The Smile in Manhattan. “The other night I saw one of our regulars at another local restaurant and later when I saw him at The Smile, he actually apologized for going somewhere else. Ha! I was like, ‘No worries, you gotta change it up.’ ”

Maybe it’s human nature to crave restaurant rituals? A survey conducted in England found that 98% of people there visit the same few places repeatedly. After outgrowing my Manhattan starter apartment, I moved to Brooklyn and once again established a spot. My friends and I often tried to force ourselves to widen our scope and try new places, but somehow we always ended up at our regular haunt chatting with our regular buddies at the end of the night.

Being a regular forges friendships, some that even transcend the establishment walls. “When I opened my place ten years ago, neighborhood moms came in with their little tiny babies, now those babies are coming in on their own after school,” says Ericka Burke, owner and chef of Volunteer Park Cafe in Seattle. “It’s been sweet to watch my own son, who’s six, grow up with his friends in the cafe — now they all go to school together.”

Sean Feeney, co-owner of Italian restaurant Lilia in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, befriended a regular couple who lives across the street. After they celebrated their engagement at the restaurant, Sean would jokingly offer up a piece of marriage advice each time they came in. Then, one night over pasta, they asked him to officiate their wedding ceremony, which he plans to do next year. “It was extremely humbling,” says Sean. “We’ve witnessed so many amazing events — we’ve met the parents and celebrated birthdays, promotions, births — but we’ve also seen guests grieve. Not everyone comes to Lilia happy. Those moments allow us to help and connect to people in a lasting way.”

These days, I have found yet another go-to. My boyfriend and I pop into a Taiwanese place around the corner from our apartment at least once a week. We have a spot where we always sit, we know the menu by heart and the chef often comes out of the kitchen to deliver our pork buns and say hi. Proximity is key, but it’s also the feeling of having “a place” that keeps us coming back.

What’s your spot? Have you ever had a regular restaurant, bar or cafe? What do you love about it?

P.S. Restaurant etiquette 101 and a dinner party conversation starter.

  1. So true and such a nice topic to write about :) Thank you, I enjoyed reading it!

  2. I love this!! How special and heartwarming

  3. Leah says...

    My fiance and I are regulars at two different bars in our city – one of them being the place we met and 6 years later, still frequent as much as we can. This place is magic.

    The other is our corner hang and is located 3 blocks from our house. The staff are so good to us – we walk in and once we’re spotted, they immediately bring over our usual end of night drink before we even sit down. We are even contemplating throwing our wedding reception on their second floor, since it’s basically our second home and it would allow us to celebrate with our friends who work there :)

  4. Only a few times in my life have I had a regular hangout but they’ve always felt significant when I do. Right now I’m often found in a local coffee shop tapping away on my laptop – as a writer working at home alone, I love to get out and have some company some days. And occasionally I’ll meet friends there too! Thanks for encouraging me too reflect on this.

  5. Living in Portland, we eat out a lot because it’s all pretty affordable. There is one place we go to often for $5 dollar maragarita pizzas and $4 wine. Sooo cheap and amazing! At one point we were going twice a week…. because you know, all diets should consist of 50% pizza ;) I knew we had to cut back when the waitress asked us 1.) If we were training for a marathon, and 2.) if we lived in the apartments upstairs because we were there so often. I looked at her and said, well no…. but we live really close by. Which we totally don’t. Haha!

  6. Zoe says...

    We come to New York quite frequently as we live in Montreal and have friends who live in Brooklyn. Although we always have plans to try new places when we visit we end up at Five Leaves every single time, I suppose it’s the familiarity and knowing we won’t be disappointed in our meal, what with the horrible exchange rate etc.

  7. I left Brooklyn two years ago when my daughter was a few months old. I now have two children and a completely different life. One of the things that I miss the most is walking to dinner. I was in the same neighborhood for 11 years so of course I had my favorites-but there is one that sticks out. My roommate and I lived across the street when they opened. It took us a few months to get there, but when we did, they couldn’t get rid of us. It became friends with the owners and other people from the neighborhood. We could show up at anytime, even the busiest times, and get a table. We often had food delivered without us having to order.

    They were there for a few boyfriends, eventually attended my wedding and it was where my rehearsal dinner was held. They employed my husband when he moved to Brooklyn and could not find a job.

    They actually closed before I moved, but they have restaurants all over the city. I will be back in a few weeks, but going to another of their restaurants just isn’t the same.

    I don’t own a house yet, but when we buy, this is what I am looking for. While it will never be the same, I want to live near restaurants and become a regular once again.

  8. Nicole says...

    This post really touched me. My father in law was a regular at a pub/restaurant in town and when he passed away suddenly last month, they closed for the night so that the owners and employees could all attend his wake. Standing in the receiving line with my husband, we both instantly got tears in our eyes when we saw that crew all walk in together. It meant the world to us.

  9. Anne says...

    Great post Megan! I have my go to coffee shop where I will stop by at least once or twice per week. I have been a regular at the coffee shop pretty much since I moved to my previous building now 3,5 years ago (!) The staff will rarely never ask me what my coffee order is because they already know, haha. A lot of their customers are regulars from the area, and I love how that creates a warm, cozy and welcome atmosphere in the coffee shop.

  10. Vanessa says...

    I’m a “regular” at a few places in my Boston neighborhood-specifically the Irish pub on the corner (where I also pay my rent) and another restaurant down the street. The Irish regulars all know me and my drink order and it’s definitely my little cozy, homey escape. My roommate and I are both regulars at the other restaurant (separately!) and always remark how despite going there every week we feel like they never talk to us–which can be a good thing! He goes there to work, and I take my Tinder dates there! :)

  11. I go to this cafe called The Source in Mosman, Sydney Australia. I still love trying out new places but there’s something nice about sipping coffee with hubby at a place where people know our names. Plus, coffee is delicious :)

  12. My boyfriend and I have been regulars at this hotel bar/restaurant in our neighborhood, probably go 2-3 times a month for drinks. It’s upscale but we live in Wisconsin so not too upscale. We’ve been going for over 3 years. In addition to going for a few drinks on a weeknight, we’ve celebrated two valentines days there, go most game days during football season and are actually considering having our wedding there if I can just manage to get the guest list small enough. We’ve seen the staff change over a few times but we still always know someone who is working and get special treats from the kitchen sometimes. We love that it is quite there but also that most of the other people there are in from out of town, which somehow makes them more eager to chat. We’ve met Kit Harrington’s agent when he was in town for Thanksgiving, a few start-up owners and even recruited one of the agents who now works for our real estate brokerage all sitting at the bar there. I love having our “spot” that not many other people claim as theirs. If you’re ever in Madison check out The Wise at Hotel Red.

  13. Maggie Haggie says...

    If you’re ever in Boston / Cambridge, I highly recommend Parlor Sports in Inman Square – this tiny sports bar that maybe holds 40 people standing, and is so unexpectedly fun and intimate. Along with the usual sports / matches one would expect, they also try to showcase lesser sought-out sports on their screens like trap shooting, or curling! It’s surprisingly hilarious and fun to try to learn and get invested those quirk sports with no prior knowledge.

    My boyfriend and I lived a few hundred feet away from the entrance where we would stop in at least once per week. We recently moved 2.5 hrs away to New Hampshire, and have yet to find a new spot.

  14. Liz C says...

    Every Saturday night, my Grandmother-in-Law and her family have dinner at a local pizza restaurant called JPs. Sometimes they have a crowded table of 12, or an intimate table of four. I thought going to the same restaurant would get old.

    Fast forward a few years and my husband and I are also frequent visitors to this restaurant! We bring our two children and meet my parents at least three times a month to enjoy pizza and conversation at JPs. And, we usually know 85 percent of the crowd! It’s comforting to have “a spot” where everyone knows your name.

  15. Leah says...

    Growing up in CT, there was (still is) a casual Italian place called Illiano’s. Good pizza, and sandwiches (toasted tuna sub!) and a sit down area for pasta. Whenever we walked in (maybe twice a month) the owner would say “Hey, Paisano!” to my Dad. Makes me smile just thinking about him! The pizza makers would also always say hello. They would slice a slice of pizza into 4 strips and we would munch on them while we waited.

  16. Linsey says...

    Yes we do! My husband and I frequent a little brewery called Tractor Brewing since the day they opened. We go in often enough that we almost never have to order, they just yell “Do you want the usual?” to us and we nod and smile. Sometimes the tenders of the tub come and sit with us and we have a great time! We bring any out of towers that visit us in too, we’re always looking forward to showing off “our” pub.

    • in Albuquerque? If so, I’ve been there and love it!

    • Lor says...

      another New Mexican here (if that’s the tractor brewing we’re talking about), but I’m in Santa Fe. My normal spot is Second Street Brewery.

    • Laura says...

      I used to live in ABQ! I loved going to Satellite by the UNM campus for coffee while I studied. Their Cafe con Leche was my favorite.

  17. Lisa says...

    I’ve also been on both sides – seeing regulars at a restaurant I worked in and being a regular at a cafe, multiple Starbucks’ and a bar. It’s nice knowing you have a place. When I first moved to London I was a regular at an awesome bar in Soho (and unfortunately this kind of place is becoming very rare in London because of high rents). It’s owned by a Sicilian family and when you go there you can ended up having deep philosophical discussions with people in the smoking area or arm wrestling the next table. I wasn’t a “proper” regular though – they get invited to the annual trip to Brighton and have their photos on the wall. I think the day my one friend got his photo on the wall was probably the proudest of his life.

  18. Kate says...

    We are regulars at a Vietnamese restaurant about 10kms from our house (not far in our city). They have seen us go there to try Vietnamese food before we actually went on our dream trip there, me pregnant, us with a tiny baby in a pram, me pregnant again. It’s not really kid friendly but they always make allowances and take my son into the kitchen while we eat. Another place we are regulars is the local vet! With 5 dogs and 2 cats, it was inevitable.

  19. Elaine says...

    A few months ago during my first set of university exams I started to revise over breakfast at the cafe across the street of where I live. I ordered the same things every morning and eventually all the staff (even those with shifts on different days) remembered me, my favourite seat and what I ate. After 1 week of going, the barista would make my Earl Grey tea as soon as he saw me walk into the cafe. I don’t go to that cafe anymore so I feel a little sad but I hope they remember me in the next exam season ;)

  20. Erin says...

    Great piece Megan! I love the idea, and the nudge you gave me to revisit some memories of my old haunts!

  21. We moved to Bremen, in Germany, almost six years ago and a few months after our arrival we discovered this great place and started going every Saturday for lunch. We loved it there: the decor, the atmosphere, the amazing food. Three years passed and the owner never said hello, the waitress never seemed to recognize us… Until one day the chef noticed us and started talking to us. Briefly, this is the North og Germany after all. Since then he used to greet us from the kitchen. But the owner? Not a word. the waitress? Nada. Last June we went there one Saturday, as per usual, and the restaurant was closed! Buuuuuuuuu! So, even though we really loved the idea of being regulars and all that, it never worked for us. Sad.
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  22. Rose says...

    My husband and I were a couple of Brits living in Melbourne last year. We had a wonderful pizza place on the corner, about 5 minutes’ walk from our flat. We would go there for lunch or dinner almost weekly, and whenever we had family or friends visiting we would take them too. When we decided to move back to the UK we had one last supper there, and I asked for a couple of the restaurant’s menus to take home (beautifully designed and printed on large paper to be used as disposable placemats). The menu is now framed and hangs above our kitchen table – and is always a talking point.

    Having a regular place to eat not only made the decision of what and where to eat so much easier, but helped us to feel connected to the local area – and as a foreigner in a foreign land the simple routine of being a regular provided comfort I hadn’t anticipated, but came to fully appreciate.

  23. I was in Detroit this past summer working as an intern for a huge ad agency, living in a new city, and having my own place for the first time ever. It was an amazing experience, but I missed my friends and the familiarity of my home state. There was an amazing breakfast/lunch place near my apartment I started going to every weekend cause they had amazing burgers & fries. Pretty soon the staff started greeting me by name every time and the waitresses joked about how they were going to “adopt” me especially when they learned I was in the city on my own. I started sometimes ordering food to be delivered as I got busier with work and the next time I called in the woman working immediately knew it was me, called me “sweetheart”, and insisted on waving the delivery fee. She came herself to deliver it and we chatted a bit. I’ll never forget how something as simple as a being their regular made me feel like I belonged In a city that I had started out feeling very misplaced in.

  24. In college, my girlfriends and I used to go to a subs & salads place every week. If we couldn’t make it on the week we would definitely made plans for the weekend, it was a non-question issue.. Dinner? There! We just had to set the time. The waiters knew us, the food was delicious and it always felt like we were in our cozy litte place. We loved it!

  25. I love being a regular! It’s like having a second home. The marriage story is so resonant for me as that’s sort of what happened to us. We travel to the same small town in Italy each year, and have been for nine years now. We became regulars at a wine bar and feel like we’re old friends with the staff. We got engaged there and when we were discussing where we should get married I joked “why not here” nine months later we took 8 of our best friends and their partners and our parents and celebrated our wedding in that very spot. It felt so special not only to share our “second home” with our closest friends and family, but also to show the staff that we considered them part of our family too. And now it’s a place that’s even more special. We go back for every wedding anniversary, drink a glass of wine with some cheese and look around remembering that day whilst continuing to forge new memories. It’s the greatest feeling!

  26. Sadie says...

    I’ve just moved to a village of 300 or so in England. We have one pub that is the only business establishment in town. We only had to go once before they knew we were the Americans who lived in —- house and that they would have to explain everything to us. Ha ha. It’s actually really embarrassing right now, but I hope that it will develop into a nice “regular” situation!

  27. lily says...

    When I lived in NY, I used to be so comfortable at the pizza place downstairs that I would have my packages delivered there! Now with kids and living in Oakland, CA, we don’t need quite that much but we also have a pizza place here. Despite there being 3 pizzaerias in walking distance, we always end up at our old favorite. Every friday.

  28. Max Bennett says...

    You should read the great good place by ray oldenburg. Its all about this!

    • E says...

      here, here! such a good read!

  29. Alison says...

    My husband and I definitely have a regular coffee shop! He did the leg work of establishing the relationship as it’s close to his old office, but convenient to our house. We go several times a week… they always know our names, likes, sometimes plans, and usually his drink order (I try to change it up more). We ask about their business expansion, new things in the neighborhood, etc that they like to talk about. We reminded them before our honeymoon that we were leaving town for three weeks so they didn’t question why we wouldn’t be in!! We didn’t want them to think we were switching shops on them :)

  30. Ser says...

    Yes! Locally and when travelling in Europe I always find my spot and frequent it. Last time I was in Rome my friend and I were lining up to eat at a super popular Trastevere eatery we had been heavily patronising and got talking to two girls who had met that day when one of them asked the other to take her photo. We ended up all eating together then going out after.

  31. Tracy says...

    There’s a Japanese restaurant only a few minutes away from our place. Husband, myself and I will go there once or twice a month and do take-outs (this has been going on for the past 5 years), they have really good sushi which my son and I adore, and great Teriyaki for the husband. We get to know the owners. The wife just loved treating our son, gave him sweets, sometimes sneaked him a balloon. :)

  32. Alice says...

    I love being a regular at one of my favorite cafes in Taipei.
    It feels like home and I love that the moment I set foot into the cafe, my favorite barista would call out my name and go on making my coffee without having to ask me (-:

  33. There’s this small Turkish café that my family has gone to for over 10 years, they call my dad ‘brother’ and they are always thrilled to see us. They do good quality food and they are always smiling, no matter how business is going. Over the years we go less and less (we used to frequent monthly but now its more like 2 monthly) but they always remember us.
    There was vintage café/shop opposite my psychologists office and before every appointment, I would go and enjoy lunch (the pumpkin, spinach, feta and pine nut quiche was amazing!). The owner started to know me and we would often chat if it was quiet. I was devastated when it closed (the owner was having her second baby and just couldn’t see how she could juggle the business and 2 small boys) as I would always look forward to going. Its since been replaced by another café but it just isn’t the same.
    I find I am a creature of habit so I will often return to the same places if I love and connect with them. Its just nice to have a place you go into and relax, where you have your ‘spot’ and your order.

  34. Leah says...

    Regular? Yes. Dated the bartender? Check. Met future husband while on a date with an ex-boyfriend? Check. The place was even referenced in the priest’s homily at our wedding. Haha! Now my best friend and I go back there maybe once a year on a girl’s night and we feel really old. But the bartenders still know us, some 20 years later. Sounds like Cheers.

  35. Karla says...

    I just wanted to thank you for this interesting topic! It’s something I’ve never really thought about, and how important it is to me, until I was reading all these responses. I want to say I’m going to make more of an effort to find that gathering hole, but it just seems it’s not really the culture here in Orange County. I’m wondering if it depends on your community. I have a theory you get more of the “Cheers” vibe in very small towns, and in very large populated cities for these two contrasting reasons: with the small towns there’s less options so that’s that, and with the large city, it’s too hard to get anywhere far way so you just walk to your local spot. When you’re in the middle, like us, you spend more time trying different places because there’s a lot of options and everything is more spread out.

  36. elena says...

    I worked as a host for a few years at a restaurant in Chicago, and one of my very first regulars recently passed away. I didn’t think I was all that close to my regs, but when I got the news my heart just dropped- for him, for his kids who were becoming regulars themselves, for his wife (they celebrated their wedding there). I remember the first time one woman made a reservation for the very first time under a new last name after her divorce (we notice these things!), and the wide eyed look- and laugh- of another regular when I pointed out the pasta we had named after him. Nothing turns a tough Saturday night service around like seeing a kind, familiar face in a sea of hangry people.

  37. Lucy says...

    I have always wanted a place like this!! I feel that maybe a factor is the cheap food prices in the USA? It’s not cheap to eat out regularly in NZ. I think people here have cafes though where the workers know their orders and names. There’s no cafe super close to my work though which is a shame.

  38. Bailey says...

    I think about this a lot as I’ve been on both sides of this equation. Having worked in restaurants and hospitality, I know how good it feels to have regulars! It is genuinely rewarding to get to know them and to feel as though you’re a part of their lives. And sometimes it evolves into a strangely intimate dynamic where people open up to you more than they would their actual friends because there is no pressure or expectations for the relationship. On one occasion we were even privy to a beloved regular couple’s pregnancy news before they were ready to tell their parents (“when I order a gin and tonic tonight, just make it a club soda” she whispered with a wink).

    Now that I’m in a different career and a different city, I have found my own regular place and the love is just as strong from this side of the bar. Recently, after about two years of visiting this neighborhood restaurant/wine bar almost every week, our favorite server came to us towards the end of the night and told us how much their team enjoys our visits because it’s clear that we are so in love and have such a nice relationship. It 100% made my year to hear such a sweet compliment from this non-stranger but not-quite-friend (yet!).

    • E says...

      It’s so true that it goes both ways! I used to work a food truck and my regulars were EVERYTHING. They made cashiering through endless lines a blast with the jokes and smiles. Never discredit how far your friendliness goes toward making food service workers’ days!!!!!

  39. I don’t know if picking up takeout makes you a regular. My husband and I order sushi for our in-home date nights at least 2-3x per month from our favorite spot. The funny thing is we have never sat inside, but the owner knows who we are and when we call they can usually finish our order for us (mixed sashimi, spicy edamame, salad & cucumber rolls…). Once in awhile they will throw in an extra roll or dessert.

    xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  40. Caitlin says...

    What was the bar in Lower East Side?

  41. Will definitely try out that Taiwanese place! I’m not Taiwanese but do love their food, and NYC is unfortunately lacking in that food department.

  42. Karin says...

    Yes! When my hubby and I first got married 22 years ago we lived across from a diner. We went there for breakfast literally EVERY Sunday. When our son was born we started taking him too in his little carrier. He made friends with one of the busboys who would always come up to him and say “Mi Amigo!”

    We moved away from that neighborhood 14 years ago but we still go back to the restaurant from time to time. That busboy is now one of the owners of the place, our son is 16 and last time we went in there the former busboy still recognized us!

  43. Yesssss!!! I love being a regular! I go to this place by work for coffee and or food depending on the mood all the time haha, well I go at least once a week maybe three times.

    I started going back in December and have been going every week since. It’s an Australian style kitchen, small hole in the wall type of place that’s in the industrial area of Costa Mesa, CA. Outpost Kitchen is my jam! They serve smooth coffee, and make some of the best food (avocado toast with poached eggs are one of their best) Not to mention, the staff is super friendly, I crack jokes with all of the chefs now, and I always feel so welcome when I walk in and they just say “Sup Alex!” Haha a few of them now we follow each other on Instagram. If any of you are in Orange County! I highly recommend this place! Also check the out on Instagram, Outpost Kitchen.

    I love coming here even if it’s just for like 20-30 min, because it’s nice to get out of the office and interact with other people. Or sometimes I just go and read a book.

    Being a regular at other places has happened to me a lot, because once I find somewhere that’s both delicious and friendly staffed. There’s no stopping me, haha I’ll be there every week. I was the same in LA when I was in school.

    • debbie says...

      I live in HB and I can’t wait to check out Outpost Kitchen and have it be my new local spot! Thanks for the recommendation, Alex.

    • Kanga says...

      Ha! Smooth coffee … yep … Aussie! Really hard to find anywhere else in the world! xx

  44. Julie says...

    Do you mean time spent vertical? Or do you mean horizontal ; )

  45. E says...

    Also, I used to work at Starbucks and at least at our location, we really tried to make the customers feel like they belonged. We knew names, drink orders – often calling customers by their drinks :) I miss that aspect of the job greatly. Thankfully, I still bump into grande Mocha (with only one pump) at the grocery store.

  46. E says...

    This post made me think about the “third place” theory and how everyone needs the home, the office, and one more place, distinct from the first two – hence the third place.

    I don’t have a large community of people to hang out with, but I do have places I tend to frequent and at those places, there are familiar faces. Just this morning I was at Starbucks (yes, I know. not hip.) and an older couple sat at our table. Come to find out they’re from New York, recently moved to Iowa, and love the same pizza place that I do 20m away. Being a regular makes the world feel smaller.

  47. Megan B says...

    I’m obsessed with the sub shop Jersey Mike’s. when I started dating my husband, I got him addicted as well and we soon frequented the sandwich shop (apparently) embarrassing amounts. Because one day, when we went out somewhere else, the waitress said “hey the Jersey Mikes couple! I used to work there and you guys came in all of the time!” I’m not ashamed.

  48. Kate says...

    We used to go to a local fish restaurant, “a
    Fish called
    Inglewood”. Then we moved across town but my four year Ollie always suggests it so we end up driving across town in peak hour for our early dinners. When we asked him what he wanted to do for his four birthday he suggested a family party at Ingelwood. So we booked out the place and invited the whole extended family. The best was seeing Ollie’s excitement in sharing his special restaurant with everyone.

    • Jo says...

      How small is Perth! I love that this is an American blog, I live in Melbourne and you are talking about a Perth restaurant around the corner from my in-laws! We have gone there also and my FIL raves about the place! Small world!!

  49. Allison says...

    With my current life being rather suburban, I don’t have a regular spot :(
    But one of the best I’ve had in the past was Mr. Gyro’s in Ballard, Seattle. The owner is the best, so friendly (amazing gyros), and he recognized me on the street (elsewhere) and said hi!

    • Meghan says...

      Mr. Gyros is the best! We always used to go to the Greenwood location and would always chat with the owner. He knew our order and it was nice to feel like a regular.

  50. My coworker and I are regulars at a local restaurant, Chilango’s Burrito Bar. We go at least once a week, and they know our names, our orders, and have already given us reward points before we reach the register. It makes Jackson, MI, feel just a bit more like home every time.

  51. Lindsay says...

    yes!

    We have a breakfast place and a couple bars. My BF LOVES when he walks into the bagel shop and they know exactly what his order is. And for some reason, it is so comforting to walk into a bar and they just hand you a drink without having to say anything.

  52. Kathryn says...

    There is a little Mexican place that has great margaritas, and a loyal neighborhood customer base. My husband and I started going there at the beginning of our relationship 13 years ago. It was the first restaurant we went to with our newborn son. When he was a toddler and started crying because he ate something too spicey most of staff came over to help (ends us he was pitching a fit about something else). Now at age 6 he practices his Spanish with the manager and long-time wait staff. My son loves going when they have different holiday decorations up because he knows the regular decor so well.

  53. Maire says...

    In college, my friends and I were regulars at a local pizza joint and we always had the same waitress who knew all of our names and would ask after people if not everyone showed for dinner. A few years later, when my girlfriends and I were all new professionals, we used to frequent the same bar every Thursday for half price martini night and the bar menu. We would all gather around 8PM and we had a favorite bartender and formed into a group with other regulars, many of whom we are still friends with to this day (I actually met my now husband through this group!) and have epic nights shutting down the bar, and then sometimes joining our bartenders for a night cap at the bar next door that stayed open later. Best of times!

  54. Jill says...

    My husband and I have a breakfast place and a pub. We knew we had become “regulars” in each location when:
    a.) for breakfast, our waitress knew to come out with two coffee cups and an insta-fill and when my partner placed his specifics for his meal, the waitress went, “of course, I should have known!” :-O Hilarious when it’s usually filled with elderly regulars and here we are, 20-something regulars.
    b.) the waitress at our pub knew to tell me as soon as I sat down which ciders they did or did not have in at the time.

    I have yet to make any famous framed photos though…#HighHopes.

  55. Lauren says...

    We live just outside Seattle, having recently moved from LA in the spring, it has been so nice to establish our “place” here in Redmond. LA was a very impersonal and disconnected place for us. We visited the same coffee shops all the time, but no one ever remembered us. Now, we have a coffee shop one block over that knows each of our names and orders. Our two year old will often say, “I’m so excited to see my friends” as we walk over to grab coffee in the mornings. The baristas have indeed become our friends, just this week when we found out our second child will be a girl, our daughter excitedly told them one morning and they cheered and gave us our coffee on the house. I feel like in most areas of our lives, we all crave community, and having a place “where everybody knows your name” really is such a nice piece of our daily lives.

  56. What an interesting question. I try very hard to not be a regular, as I love trying new and exciting places. Since I don’t get to eat out much anymore, I always want a different experience. But the idea of having a “home away from home” sounds cozy, especially in the winter.

    • Gem says...

      I’m the same way! I love trying new restaurants and so I actually feel guilty going to the same spot repeatedly, because I’m missing a chance to try out a hot new spot. I totally see the appeal of the familiarity though!

  57. Kim says...

    can writers stop. doing. this., please? i spent, like, a whole. 7. seconds, re-reading the second paragraph wondering why it ended at ‘all’.

  58. katie says...

    My family eats at a little Italian place a block from our house. The whole staff knows us and I LOVE it. They are so nice to our kiddos and it really does feel like a family. Our next door neighbors are also regulars, so it’s fun when we show up there without planning anything and have dinner with friends.

    Growing up in the suburbs I had no idea this kind of thing could happen…and I just love it.

  59. Nectar says...

    I currently live in Seattle and work as a host at a place voted best Italian in the city.We have a ton of regulars who come, we know what dishes they’ll probably order, their anniversaries, birthdays, etc. We strive on building relationships with our guests.

    For anyone trying to be a regular anywhere, just strike up a conversation with the staff, if you can’t come in try and talk to the host. The restaurant that I work at is very hard to get a res for (2 weeks in advanced!) with a small walk-in area, however if I see the same people come in and sadly have to tell them it’ll be a long wait, I try and sneak them in or tell them to call in advance and say my name and next time I’ll save spots at the bar for them.

    this “relationship” takes 2 to make it work.

  60. Leah says...

    yay, lillia :)

    we own a pizzeria that we live above in brooklyn, and i often use it as an extension of our living room, especially when my now-toddler son was very small and needed a change of scenery. From our end, it’s so fun to see the regulars, especially since they come from so many walks of life. there’s this one family that i’ve been chatting with for years, and one day i took the kids behind the counter to show them the walk-in fridge and how we make the pies: minds. blown!

  61. Courtney says...

    When I was in college, I was such a regular at a bar called Quixotes (shout-out Auburn University!!) that on my 21st birthday, the bartenders put “Happy Birthday to Courtney” on the bar sign outside with the drink specials and helped my friends tie balloons to all the bar stools that night.

    Another trick-when my husband and I go on vacation, we like to find a restaurant and then go there over and over again to see what it would feel like to live in that city. For example, in New York- we went to Cafeteria (our favorite spot) two-three times in one weekend seeing what it would feel like to be regulars!

  62. There’s something very comforting about having a few favorite places to go all the time. Now, we don’t go out so much, so when we do, we try to discover new places too, to change things up a bit. Great points! XO, Elsa

    http://cafesocietyxxi.blogspot.de/

  63. jenni says...

    I’ve never succeeded in being a regular anywhere, but we did regularly order pizza and subs from an Italian spot in our old neighborhood. We always had the same guy delivering our order, but I hadn’t quite realized how friendly he and and my husband were until after we took a six month trip to Asia… The night we landed back in the states we ordered from our usual place. We had given up our old apartment, so were staying at an AirBnB a bit of a ways from the pizza place, but lo and behold, who delivered our Italian food!? I have never seen my husband so excited to see anyone… They stood at the door chatting for a good 15 minutes as my husband explained our absence filled him in on the reason for our new location. It was possibly the most joyful reunion of any after our long travels :) Feels good to have a home!

  64. jena says...

    This is such a great topic! I don’t have a restaurant — but a couple of other places. There is a coffee roaster two doors down from my office — I’m there everyday, sometimes twice a day. They always make fun of us, “you know, you could just buy coffee grounds and make your own coffee.” But then I wouldn’t have the ritual of walking over there and getting to chat about anything other than architecture for a while.

    I also have some “dog park friends” that have become really good friends of mine. It started a few of years ago when we kept seeing each other in this field in the neighborhood. We eventually learned each others names (not just the dogs’), then went out with our dogs, and then went out without the dogs! Its such a great community of people, and we are all SO different. We’ve switched dog parks a few times and moved, but have always kept proximity to each other in mind. We watch each others dogs and all have keys to each others houses to help each other out when something comes up. We go with each other to the emergency vet when something happens, and are there for each other through breakups. Its crazy to think that these people wouldn’t be in my life if I didn’t have a dog.

    • Michelle says...

      Ha, so cool! I met my husband at a dog park! :)

  65. Lizzz says...

    When I studied for a semester in Spain a classmate and I met at the same cafe everyday before class. The waiters were so fantastic. Always making sure we had breakfast and hot toddys when we were sick. Even bumming us cigarettes when we ran out. I lived with a family during my stay but those waiters were my real Spanish family.

  66. Talia says...

    Yes! My husband and I have date night every Friday night and we always go to the same local Italian restaurant. The bartender sees us entering and our beverages are ready when we sit down. I LOVE this place and love being a regular – feels like home away from home.

  67. Veronica says...

    My husband and I loved to go to a restaurant in San Antonio, TX: The Monterey. It had eclectic decor, an amazing wine list, and it was way too cool for us. We started going on Tuesdays because they had an amazing deal on bacon cheeseburgers. We didn’t realize we were recognizable as “regulars” until the restaurant was closing and they were having their last burger night. We got there kind of late and didn’t think that we would be seated, but the seating hostess was able to accommodate us because “[we came] there a lot.” It’s been almost a year now, and we haven’t found anything to replace it yet.

  68. Mischu says...

    I love being a regular! After a long day at work, making decisions about one thing or another, it’s great to find a spot that knows what you like. You completely unwind and let them take care of you…no choices, no deliberating over one thing or another. They know what you usually order and it only takes a knowing glance or nod. It’s like coming home and your mom or dad preparing that comfort dish that always hits the mark.

  69. Lisa says...

    When we lived in Brooklyn, my husband worked at our friend’s bar, The Richardson. My childhood friend had opened the bar in 2008 and we lived right up the street from its location in Williamsburg. Before having a baby, I was there until 4 am many nights chatting with the regulars – my friends, and staff. After my son was born in 2010, I carried him along in the Ergo on my visits, which were earlier in the day. I found the chill, afternoon bar vibe to be normalizing amidst a frenzy of a new-baby madness. And it helped me remember that I was still a grown-up with grown-up friends and interests. I now live in PA and my son is almost 6, but every time we come back to visit Brooklyn, we head to the Richardson where it still feels like a second home.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I love that place!

  70. Karmen says...

    We were regulars at Its Greek to Me in the Uptown neighborhood of Mpls when we were renovating our kitchen…20 years ago. Had our groom’s dinner there and even tho we don’t go nearly enough since becoming suburban-ites, we are still remembered and fall back into easy conversation with the owners and staff. It is the best feeling!!!

  71. tada says...

    wait- aren’t you engaged Megan? Boyfriend?

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Hi Tada, yes I am engaged :) Sometimes I feel a little awkward using the term fiancé though. Think I’ll write about that for a post, stay tuned!

  72. Heather says...

    We hosted our son’s baptism party at our favorite local bar. Luckily for us the name of the establishment included “Cafe” and not “Bar,” “Pub,” or “Lounge” so we didn’t upset the grandparents! It is family owned and a great community gathering spot.

  73. I love being a regular at a place! It’s comforting and fun. My husband and I order takeout from the same Chinese restaurant every Friday and when he calls they answer the phone “Hey, Jacob! Chili Lemongrass Chicken, extra spicy?” When I switched my order to soup, they asked to make sure I was ok. It turned out I was pregnant, and not feeling great, and the guy answering the phone was expecting a baby too. He and my husband still talk about our babies every week, and two weeks ago my husband took our now two and a half year old to the restaurant and everyone was excited to meet him! We live in a large city, and I think it’s great that you can carve out your own little town in the middle of a vast metropolis. It’s really the best of both worlds!

  74. Laura C. says...

    Yes! I love being a regular!
    I used to go to a very little and nice café just undet my apartment, it was cozy and the owner was so funny, but he had to leave and closed the café.
    We all regulars felt so abandoned and we had to find another café. Actually now I’m going to a nice one, but it’s not thr same….

  75. KN says...

    We were regulars at a couple of different spots growing up (Daylight Donuts, pizza on Wednesdays, grocery store cafe) and looking back, those relationships made a huge impact on me as a kid! I learned how to talk to adults, had to get up the courage to go up and order and pay for my own donut, and then later on they were places I could go if I was in town by myself and needed to call my mom or get a cup of water! I hope if we have kids, we’ll be able to find places that they can feel they’re a part of, too!

  76. P says...

    I actually love finding a regular place when I’m traveling … and secretly pretending I live in Paris, San Francisco, or wherever I’m visiting :)

    • Alexandra H. says...

      Yes!! My husband and I do the same, not only for restaurants but also for B&Bs.

  77. Kate says...

    my husband and I live in Jersey City, and we LOVE our “spot”. Its a little pub three blocks from our tiny apartment, and we know the bartenders, waitstaff, owner, and usually about 1/3 of the people in the place. I love that we can go in, wave to our buddies, and they know that i’m going to ask for “whatever beer isn’t super hoppy.” On our first day back from a recent vacation, we actually walked into our apartment, put down our bags, and walked right back out to our spot! We bring our families there when they visit, play cards with our friends there, and go there straight from the gym to eat the “this is why i worked out” burger. For us, that the feeling of community that you establish by revisiting the same place has been really essential to feeling at home in the crazy metro culture around NYC.

  78. Briana says...

    Love this post! I’ve always wanted to be a ‘regular” at some restaurant, cafe, whatever. But living in a very residential part of LA, there just isn’t anyplace in my neighborhood that fits the bill. There are places that I go often where I might recognize other patrons or the staff, but I have never made a connection worthy of chit-chatting . It makes sense that New Yorkers have their places because apartments are tiny and you are out of the house more. I guess I’ll just have to make a point to spend more time out at the places I love to jump-start the conversations.

  79. E says...

    I totally thought you were going to say that the black hair and glasses dude from LES is your boyfriend now, ha! You can see how the romcoms have programmed me :-P

  80. I live in a very small town outside Nashville, we have a coffee shop/pizza place. It’s run by a big family and we know almost everybody on staff. For a while we were going every week, and they were almost as excited as I was to meet our new baby! I practically lived at the coffee shop the last 2 weeks of my maternity leave.

    • Same situation for me – I live in a small town so everyone is a regular at our coffee shops & few restaurants. No choice, just the folks in town going to the only places around. Still very nice to know everyone’s name and have that sense of community!

  81. We’ve got a sushi place around the block we hit about 2x a month. It’s very simple, but clearly a family run place. The price is right, the food is tasty and the half price beer specials seal the deal. I wonder if they recognize us yet.

  82. “Our place” was one of the (many) reasons my husband and I did not want to leave our neighborhood when we were looking to move. It’s a bar and grille that we treated more as a bar before our son come along. We know all the bartenders, wait staff, and some of the guys in kitchen. It’s like a second home, with a killer jukebox. I threw my husband a surprise 40th birthday party there that was beyond epic and planned via text with the head bartender. When my husband walked in and saw around fifty people cramped into our favorite place, he could not stop crying! Anyway, now we go at a more family friendly hour with our little guy, who has been a regular since he was born.

  83. It sounds like a lot of us (not everyone – introverts I hear ya!) want to be a regular somewhere, but I don’t think it’s something you should look for on purpose. Isn’t part of being a regular that you just find yourself at that place over and over and over because the Pad Thai/atmosphere/beer/service/pie is so good that you keep going back again? I don’t think we should be attempting to find “the spot” where we can be a regular. It should happen organically!

  84. Lena says...

    This immediately makes me think of when I was lucky enough to study abroad in Paris during university. There was a cute little bakery right at the corner of where I was staying and almost every morning I would stop on my way to the bus to buy a chocolate croissant (ah the indulgence!).

    It came to the point where not only did they know what I would be having, but if I was just passing by during the day they would come out to say hello. Once my mom came to visit, and I took her to my trusted bakery – everyone there joked that she had nothing to worry about and that I was being taken good care of haha

    And from the several months I spent in Paris, that routine and those interactions are among the things that make me most nostalgic.

  85. I love this. I just moved to a new city so right now I’m all about trying EVERYTHING once, but back in high school my mom and I used to only order Chinese food from this one place near our house. A few years later, in college, I came home for the weekend and my mom phoned in an order, and when I went to pick it up, the cashier was like “you didn’t order sesame chicken this time?!?!?” haha loved that she remembered even years later!

  86. Lizzie says...

    My husband and I had our regular bar for “Beer Mondays”–on Monday evenings we’d go around the corner for a beer after work. We came to be on a first-name basis with the bartenders, and our favorite would sometimes let us taste new brews as they came in. But he would also prank us, like the time he gave us taster glasses filled with a pale yellow liquid he described as “citrus IPA.” It was straight lemon juice. I sniffed at it suspiciously but my husband threw it back and immediately realized his mistake. The bartender laughed; we deserved it.

  87. Johanna says...

    Just wanted to say that I really, really like this post! It’s substantial enough without getting too lengthy, and the writing is really well done. Looking forward to seeing more of this type of stuff on Cup Of Jo. Kudos Megan!

  88. Sophie says...

    For the last year, my family (my husband and our three young daughters) has had breakfast at our little neighborhood spot every Saturday morning. It’s three blocks from our house and we typically walk or ride our bikes. It’s our “third place” so to speak, and we look forward to it all week! They know what we like, we’ve developed friendships with the small staff, and we’re always bumping in to other friends and neighbors there. Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

  89. Amy says...

    Oh man–my husband I had a place. We had our first date there, and went back all the time over the years as an engaged couple, married couple, with our son…same owners, same staff. They always remembered us! It closed last year :(

  90. SN says...

    I love this! We have a few places in our neighborhood that have become our mainstays, including a German bar across the street filled with the friendliest bartenders who will always slip a free drink or warm pretzel our way. The night we got engaged we even stopped in for a drink, mentioned the good news and they were SO excited we even stopped in, drinks on them.

  91. This is lovely, being a regular somewhere can give you that feeling of belonging that you need in a place! We moved to NYC 6 months ago and we’re still trying to find our local and our tribe! Reading this, reminds me how special that is!

    http://www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

  92. Ours is a local café. Adam always gets the same drink and food (buttered and toasted banana bread). For a few weeks now we’ve been every single weekend and it’s literally the highlight of my day going there. Isn’t it nice to be recognised and sometimes even be treated like you are special? I love it!

  93. We used to be locals at a small bar at the center of our town. we got acquainted with the waitress, when one of us was absent, she’d ask about him/her. I would just throw my hand up in the air (perhaps this is rude there, but here waiters are annoyed if you call them all the way to your table to ask for something you could have asked from far away with a signal- gotta love the relaxed Mediterranean peoples) and mouth “Nadya, gin!” Fun fact- this eventually became my nickname among friends!

  94. Tania says...

    The local coffee shop has been a godsend for me — it opened shortly before my son was born last year and it’s become a ritual for us to go at least once during the week and once on weekends. Everyone knows Max there, from the baristas to the customers, even the dogs! Since we were lucky enough that my husband could stay home with him for the first year, Max didn’t really have a chance to meet a lot of kids his age, but at the coffeeshop he now has a little group and I’ve now met parent friends in the neighborhood. I also struggled with pretty severe PPD, and I really believe it helped me out of it. Initially, I felt so isolated (most of my friends do not have children yet), and going there has given me this whole community, which as a new Mom is invaluable (well, really everyone needs community!).

  95. Until they closed a few months ago, my old roommate and I were regulars at a dim sum place around the corner from my apartment. It took several years but finally, about 5 years ago, they started remembering/recognizing us in the restaurant and in the neighborhood. Every Chinese New Year we gave our favorite ladies really good tips and even if the place was busy, they’d save ‘the good stuff’ for us. It was a fun and easy place for us to have long breakfasts.
    Right after they closed, we ran in to our favorite server at her new place of employment. We were all very excited to see each other!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the same thing happened to me! we used to go to an indian restaurant — surya — on our block in the west village all the time, for maybe 5 years. they ended up closing when rents went up, and we were so sad. but recently, at Babu Ji in the east village, i ran into one of the waiters and we were hugging and catching up and so thrilled to reunite! it’s amazing how intimate and familial that relationship can feel.

  96. Sarah says...

    When I married by husband, I was indoctrinated into his family’s Thursday night ritual of wings and beer at a local dive bar. Every single Thursday, we would meet his parents, brother, sister-in-law, baby niece and even sometimes grandmother for greasy fries and messy wings, always delivered by our beloved waitress Natasha. When we received the horrifying news that our sweet one-year-old niece had brain cancer, all the servers chipped in and gave us a beautiful care package filled with plush baby slippers, toys, and books to make her hospital stay more bearable. Every week after, they huddled around our table, asking for the latest news. When she was finally well enough after surgery to join us once again on Thursday night, you would have thought the queen herself was eating at Clay’s Sports Bar.

    • Natalie says...

      Love this!

    • I’m not crying, you’re crying.

  97. Heather says...

    This post makes me smile because I’ve taken whole graduate level classes about making your local library a “third place” outside of work and home. Just know that there are many librarians out there trying to court you all away from restaurants to set up shop with us :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I love that!!! Our local library in Brooklyn is such a special place for us, and I spent HOURS/DAYS/WEEKS at the West Village library (Leroy Street) when Toby was a baby/toddler. He loooooooooved it there, and there would always been other moms and young babies on rainy or wintry days — it was a lifesaver for us. Libraries are such a rich part of any neighborhood. So happy that you’re part of that!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I imagine that a church, mosque, synagogue or other religious center might be another “third place” for people, too. So interesting to think about!

    • Annie says...

      Love this!!

    • In response to Joanna’s comment, on my maternity leave I used my church as a quiet spot to slip into and nurse my daughter if I was out running errands and needed a place. Hooray for church parlors, they are full of comfy old furniture and are almost always empty. I’m very close with our church staff and they got used to seeing us!

    • E says...

      Yes! The third place concept was all I thought about while reading this. Hope you’ve read the Great, Good Place!

  98. Margaret says...

    My dad always had a “family rule” that when we went out to eat, everyone had to order something different. Eating out for our family was a rarity (small town life) so I think it’s his way of making the most of an outing! Now as an adult, I have a hard time straying from the family rule (my dad still follows it, too) so I’ve never had the “usual” order anywhere. It seems so strange to me that people order the same thing all the time! Thanks, dad.

  99. Emily says...

    You mention restaurants in this post, but I also think about being a regular at other small, local businesses and how meaningful that can be for a variety of reasons.

    My boyfriend and I have been regulars at a dry cleaners for years and have gotten to know the owner well. She always keeps out candy in a bowl for customers and saves me Twix bars for the days I come in because they’re my favorite. When my boyfriend was out of work and job hunting, she would give us a huge discount on his suits he would wear for job interviews. And when we found out from another employee that her husband was diagnosed with cancer, we brought her a meal next time we went in to drop off clothes.

    Having that relationship has always meant so much to me and really given me a sense of community. Something we as humans can all benefit from!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Totally! I’m on a first name basis with the man that works at our bodega. I probably see him more than anyone!

    • Lara says...

      Aww, that’s so sweet! I love being a regular at local businesses. I don’t have a regular restaurant or bar, but the local liquor store a few blocks from me sells beers by the bottle. Whenever I want a drink with dinner I pop over and buy one and it’s so nice to chat with the guys there for a second.

  100. there’s a local specialty coffee shop near my office, and i’ve been going there at least four times per week after work for over a year now. i take such comfort in the ritual and the sense of community, both of which are worth every penny i’ve ever spent on the coffee. it’s my favorite hangout spot, and i’ve met some of the most interesting people and always look forward to random conversations with the other regulars.

    two weeks ago a brief conversation with one of the baristas and the owner led to me building a website for them! for payment, we worked out a trade (which i preferred to cash)- my daily cappuccino is free until next october! win, win :)

  101. Kathleen says...

    So funny, this has been a sensitive topic in our household. My father-in-law certainly has his regular spot, he’s been dining there once or twice per week for decades. Problem is, it’s the fanciest place in town and while the ambiance is nice and it’s a charming option once in a while, their menu never changes and it’s overpriced. It’s a little (read: a lot) tiresome when we want to go out for a family dinner somewhere and he literally refuses to go anywhere else, despite the fact that there are dozens of other excellent restaurants all over town. We celebrated his birthday last week at- where else?- and when my six-year-old found out where we were headed for dinner her response was literally, “UGGGGGHHH, not again!” While there is something to be said for comfort and routine and being somewhere where everyone knows you, I guess I (and clearly my daughter!) prefer to switch things up and would rather sample all of the wonderful options available.

    • Lizzie says...

      This happens in my family too! My brother-in-law regularly gathers large groups for special occasions or happy hour, but only at one specific Indian restaurant. I’m happy to go there over and over but my husband gets twitchy every time he finds out a gathering is at that same place. He’s gotten to the point where he won’t even attend them anymore because he’s so tired of the Indian restaurant, and my brother-in-law (my husband’s brother) refuses to try anywhere else. We’re at an impasse.

  102. Annie says...

    My husband and I used to be regulars at a nearby bar/restaurant where our friend worked as a bartender. We’d sit at the bar for Friday happy hour and talk with our friend as he served up the drinks. It was fun catch up with him, try his latest concoctions, and occasionally get one on the house.

    Back home, I was a regular at a charming bookstore that had a cafe/soda fountain in the back. I went back to visit after moving away and was heartbroken to find that the cafe/soda fountain had been converted into an annex for antique books. My regular spot was no more!

  103. Adelaide says...

    YES! when we lived in the city we always went to City Bakery on 18th st. They witnessed me pregnant with two kids, and watched both babies grow up. We’d always sit in the kid section, about 2 to 3 times a week, and so many of the staff would come by and say hi and play with the kids. I would constantly have regulars come up to us and tell us how much they loved watching the kids grow and change – even by the week! I had a really horrible night with my daughter a year ago and was super drained. I walked in and the owner took one look at me and brought me to a table and gave me a huge bag of my favorite pastries (which they don’t sell at that location!) and brought me my usual coffee order and a snack for her – all on the house. I cried when I said goodbye to everyone before we moved. It was a home away from home for us for a long time!

  104. Yes! I’ve only become a successful “regular” at two places even though there is a bevy of restaurants/cafes/coffee shops I visit frequently. I used to work on our town’s downtown square in an office building above the tiniest authentic french bistro/cafe. There’s only like 5 or 6 places to sit in the whole place and it feels like a total hidden gem. There’s the same staff of people every time and nearly every other day I would pop in for a chocolate croissant or a prosciutto, fig, and brie sandwich. The guy would ring me up before I even made it to the register and it’s one of the things I truly miss about working at that job.

    My favorite place to be a “regular” is this local soup truck in the middle of town. The woman who runs the food truck knows my order by heart (chicken and dumplings — hers are the BEST I’ve ever had) and frequently tags me in Instagram posts when she has them on hand. When I moved jobs where I was farther away, she gave me her number and lets me text in my orders so I can speedily grab it on my lunch break.

    I think consistency is key to becoming a “regular” at your favorite haunt…consistency in when you go/what you order. Also, I think you’re more likely to achieve “regular” status at local or independent types of restaurants, that have present owners or the same staff time after time.

  105. My husband & I are a regular at Maxwell’s cafe around the corner from where we live in Venice. It’s funny though because while we go around once a week, it’s not as often as the REAL regulars who seem to be there no matter when / what time we go. We love the small-town nature of a local spot, especially when you live in a city. It makes you feel like a part of a community for sure.

  106. Dylan says...

    For a year I worked at a local mom n pop coffee shop that had amassed a group of regulars who came to the shop every. single. day. for the last 8-10 years. These people who were perfect strangers had melded their families together through the shop, and it was really like one giant crazy family! My first day at the shop was when the whole group was in, and it was like being brought to meet the parents on your first date. A lot of pressure to please for sure. There was always someone to talk to, there was always someone bringing food, there was always so much drama. I’ve never really been a true regular at a place, but it was definitely very interesting to be on the other side, working for all of my regulars and becoming their friend as well.

  107. My husband owns a micro brewery and it’s been amazing to watch how it brings people together in our historic neighborhood. The staff goes out of their way to introduce people who they think would mesh, making our hood seem even cozier. Additionally, they use their place to further causes they care about, like women’s rights, voting, etc. The “pub” as we call it has been open only a few years and has already made a huge impact on our community. It’s exciting to be a part of the change.

    AND! Many of the regulars have turned into dear, dear friends (more like family).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this is so cool to hear!

  108. Ava says...

    I moved to LA two years ago from San Francisco, and was looking for somewhere to watch the World Series with other Giants fans. Thanks to Yelp, I found a San Francisco bar in LA full of others who’d moved from the Bay Area. It’s my regular hang out two years later, and I’m among the regulars. It’s the only place in this big, new town that makes me feel back at home, if only for an instant. So my “regular” joint is my home away from home.

  109. Sandra Bo says...

    In college, my girlfriends and I used to go to a subs & salads place every week. If we couldn’t make it on the week we would definitely made plans for the weekend, it was a non-question issue.. Dinner? There! We just had to set the time. The waiters knew us, the food was delicious and it always felt like we were in our cozy litte place. We loved it!

  110. Trisha says...

    Yep- me and the guy totally have a “Cheers”, we used to go every. single. night! ha. now that we are parent’s to our new baby, we don’t go in as often, (although we will pop in now and again with the babe and have a quick beer during a family stroll downtown!). Now we frequent our favorite Mexican spot weekly for tacos with our kiddo. We love it and love having a spot of our own!

  111. Laura says...

    I still live in the same city I grew up in, and I had been going to the same restaurant on a regular basis for practically my entire life until it recently closed. My parents had been going there since it opened in the ’70s. It’s nothing fancy, just an average place, but we were so heartbroken when it closed. Over the past several years, it was a tradition for my whole family to meet up and have dinner there on Friday nights. We knew the servers by name and celebrated milestones with them (graduations, marriages, babies, etc.). I drive by the vacant building frequently because it’s near my office, and each time I feel a pang of sadness that it–along with that time in our lives, those friendships, the familiar routine–is now a thing of the past. Places become so special and meaningful when you develop so many memories there. Letting go of them feels like saying goodbye to a dear friend.

  112. Heather says...

    This topic is funny to me because it shows how introverted I am. I DON’T want to be recognized when I go out. For example, I used to go to this bagel shop when I was in college to do homework or read between classes or shifts at work. I remember going to the counter to place an order for a sandwich and the guy asked if I wanted “the usual”. I never went back after that. Go figure.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      totally makes sense!

    • Mary says...

      I don’t like to be a regular either! It’s nice to feel anonymous. Restaurants don’t bother me as much as clothing shops. I feel almost embarrassed by how often I go into Madewell!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I definitely have places like that, too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha or dessert places. back in my early 20s, i would go to Tasti D-Lite all the time and then the guy said to me, “see you tomorrow!” and i NEVER WENT BACK.

    • Jen says...

      Haha! I’ve done the same thing!

  113. Yes! My husband and I were both regulars at a bar near us. One night my husband sat down at the bar next to me and my friend as we were chatting with the bartender. The bartender told me, “He’s a regular, a good guy, doesn’t get too drunk, leaves me nice tips, doesn’t bother anyone or go home with a different girl every night – yeah, talk to that guy.”

    • M says...

      I love this!

    • Alex says...

      That’s adorable, sounds like a keeper :)

  114. Mary says...

    Our family has a rotation of restaurants here at home in New Orleans. One place in particular, very casual, patio, burgers, fries, steak, etc. I have a vivid memory of taking my oldest ,who just turned 17, when he was in an infant carrier. We have watched staff come and go, and they have watched our family grow from one newborn to four children from ages 17 to five. If one child isn’t with us when we go, they are missed. We see neighbors, former teammates, school principles and teachers, and fellow regulars who just come to know us through the place. It is special and I am so glad it is still there.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so, so sweet. i love the idea of taking your child there regularly as he grows up.

      when toby was a baby, i’d walk with him in the carrier to Murray’s Cheese, a cheese shop a block from our apartment. (one of his first words, funnily enough, was “parmesan stick”!) and then when i was enormously pregnant with anton — past my due date and sweaty hot in the middle of the summer — i stopped into the store and one of the guys gave me a slice of cheese with hot sauce on it to try to kick start my labor. and lo and behold, i went into labor a few hours later, haha. who knows if it was the cheese, but i like to think that it was :)

  115. Alexis says...

    When we moved from Chicago to New York, a friend told us to find our regular spot – that it would ease decision making on nights we were too tired in a city with 1000s of choices, and that it would make New York feel smaller. It did both. Over the last 5 years, we’ve had a couple of spots where we have been regulars. At these places staff have become friends – there places we know we will be taken care of (and they know we will tip big).

  116. kelly says...

    We used to live in Scotland and we frequented places regularly alot. We had a local cake shop we always bought our cakes from and knew the owner quite well. She even put our daughter’s name on a gingerbread man cookie ornament in her window. In the states we frequent places but it doesn’t have the same feel to it for some reason. In the UK you would likely get the same person over and over again and where we live in the states it’s less likely you’ll even be served by the same people.

  117. There’s a restaurant my family (and now mainly my parents) go to around the corner from our house…usually 1-2 times per week. It has a great bar—with TVs and some high tables—as well as a fabulous dining room and back patio. It’s one of the best kept secrets in town, tucked back in our residential neighborhood. The food is always delicious, so it never feels like we’re settling for going somewhere close, but with bad food. My parents know EVERYONE who works there—from bus boys to bartenders to the owner. Some employees have been there since I was little. Real friendships have formed: my parents helped a waiter get a job one time, and the manager has hosted last-minute company parties for my parents when they were in a bind.

    For my final dinner before I moved across the country a few years ago, I decided we had to go there, since it felt like it’d be perfect send-off. Now every time I go back to visit, I have to eat there at least once. Otherwise it won’t feel like I’m truly home.

    (Now if I could find a place like that in my new city!)

  118. Cynthia says...

    I have a few spots in Seattle where I’m a regular. Over the years it has made a lot of sense to cultivate certain spots for meet-ups with friends. I have two friends who I get together with quarterly for lunch. It’s so much easier to set it up if one of us simply emails, “Sushi Thursday?” We all know exactly where to meet and it’s convenient to all. And visiting a restaurant quarterly is not overdoing it by any means. I have the same arrangement at other restaurants with other small friend groups. These have come to be “our” places and we all appreciate the simplicity.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I need to do this with my friends!

    • Claire says...

      Cynthia, I’m from Seattle and would love to know: where are some of your regular spots? I’m always looking for a vetted place to try!

  119. Megan says...

    We just moved to a new city a month ago, leaving behind “our places” in Brooklyn. I went the same places all the time, and people surely recognized us, but I never felt like we got “regulars” treatment from most of them (saying hi, learning our names, etc.). Still, it was a cozy feeling. But here it’s been amazing so far! There’s a coffee place just two blocks from our townhouse and the only employees are the owners. The woman quickly (within 3 days) recognized me…and my 8 month old daughter :) Now, they have my order waiting for me before I get there (they can see me coming due to their corner location and the slope of the street), and if the baby is not with me she jokes “No baby, no coffee!” I can see my daughter growing up knowing them, and it has really helped us feel at home.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I love this! Sounds like a great welcome to a new city.

    • Claudia says...

      I do this with my group of friends! we always meet at the same sushi place

  120. Natalie Brennan says...

    …….and the best part about it is that they give you free homemade pudding cups at the end of your dinner, ha!

  121. Molly says...

    We’ve been TRYING to become regulars at our local spot – Allswell – in Williamsburg. . . . but no one ever seems to recognize us and it seems like there are different staff every time we go in . . . . maybe we need to try a little harder?
    And Lilia – good luck trying to be a regular there. . . it’s impossible to get into and we live across the street :(

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so true about lilia — it’s such a hotspot. and it will probably get more intense since yesterday Time Out named their agnolotti the best dish in the city!! (!!)

      to be a regular, i think it totally depends on the place, as you say. maybe a small place with a consistent waitstaff is a good bet! also going early or late so it’s not too busy while you’re there. and actually i just remembered! grub street and esquire both wrote good posts about how to become a regular:
      http://www.esquire.com/food-drink/bars/a31396/how-i-became-a-regular/
      http://www.grubstreet.com/2009/07/how_to_be_a_regular.html

    • Hey Molly would love for you try us out and to see if we can win you over as neighbors . Please send me an email for when you’d be able to dine with us sean@lilianewyork.com

    • Vanessa says...

      Ditto! I’m right down the street and have the same problem…however if you’re looking for a neighborhood bar check out The Richardson up on Graham….cozy spot with super nice bartenders who are always down for a chat

    • Megan Cahn says...

      That is actually another one of me and my bf’s spots. The sandwiches are delish, too!

  122. Natalie Brennan says...

    yes!! i always go to a seafood place by my apt — mermaid inn. i’ve gone on first dates there, celebrated birthdays, taken my parents, broken up with people, gone by myself and read at the bar, etcetera. it’s like my special spot and i feel like it has been like an episode of This Is Your Life. thanks for this great conversation starter, megan!

    • SN says...

      Love this place too — one of my favorites. In a city full of endless options and choices, it’s nice to find a spot you love, and decide you want to go back again and again, and make it a part of your life.

    • Natalie Brennan says...

      @SN, maybe i will see you there sometime! ;)

  123. CindyLou says...

    For over 20 years my husband and I have had lunch on most Saturdays at an Irish Pub in San Francisco. The cook knows what we’ll order and the waitresses know what we’ll drink. They have all become friends and, in fact, we recently met up with a couple former servers on a trip to Dublin. I feel like we’ve got “locals” now in both places.

  124. In the town I grew up in we had a kitschy southern diner we frequented so regularly we had our own booths (no small feat- I have 3 siblings and 12 cousins and we always came together after church.) There’s a photo of my grandfather in the back and he actually wrote the owner’s son a letter of recommendation for graduate school. After that we always got a chocolate and raspberry cigar to the table as soon as we arrived. I still try to visit every time I go home.

  125. Katharine says...

    I love this concept, but I’m also pretty frugal, so I don’t buy food or drinks out very often! I’ve never had a real “regular” experience. Do some “super regulars” feel comfortable dropping in without actually buying something?

    I do enjoy greeting the grocery clerks and the guy with the newspaper at the metro stop every morning (I love that they still distribute a free daily newspaper in Washington, DC!), but it’s always just a greeting. Any suggestions for questions to ask or comments to make that open up a more regular relationship?

  126. Ashley says...

    I adore this article. You’ve hit the nail on the head about one of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn/NYC. I love nothing more than going to one of my favorite spots in my Brooklyn neighborhood. My fiance and I have mutual favorites where we are regulars (restaurants, cafes, bars) and I have a few on my own that I feel comfortable enough going to by myself if the mood strikes me. Truly one of the privileges of living here is being able to sit at a restaurant/bar and sip a glass of wine with just yourself and have it not be seen as strange. I imagine it might not be as accepted in other areas of the country.

    PS – dying to try Win Son!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Thanks, Ashley! I used to always go to this little restaurant in Wburg by myself, but sadly it closed down. I miss those nights just me and my wine and my book… or more honestly, my phone :)

  127. Cynthia says...

    We used to have a restaurant very close to us when our girls were little. We often went on a Friday night and had the same waitress who knew we wanted to start with salads and she knew we liked blue cheese dressing. The portions were huge and since our girls were small, my husband and I shared our entrees with our daughters and still had more than enough for ourselves. We took my in laws there and they loved it, and we took my mom for her birthday one time and she loved it too. It changed hands and was never the same, so we stopped going. The building has been torn down to expand the Amtrak parking lot.

  128. Love this post :) My husband frequents our local pub a few times a week and is friends with the older locals and all the staff their. We go there for dinner once or twice a month and we often go with family too; we went there the week before both mine and my brother’s weddings with aunts and uncles!

    From the other side, I used to work in a tearoom in Highgate, a village-like part of London that is very quaint and had the same experience as some of the restaurateurs you interviewed; seeing people come in, have babies, babies start walking, etc. I still miss it most days and often think about all the people I used to see every week!

  129. Alyssa Leister says...

    I love this! I have my favorite places in my town, but I don’t have “one place” that is my own. There’s plenty of cafes and bars, but I tend to not go there since I work all day.

  130. Patricia says...

    My now-husband and I used to go this little sushi restaurant in Charleston s the tome. It wasn’t the best, but it was cozy and they were always so nice. (And there was a waiter who looked and sounded just like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite.) When we got engaged, we went there to celebrate and they were so happy for us that they treated us to dinner. It was so sweet and they’re an exciting time even more special by sharing in our joy.

  131. My fiance and I have a few restaurants in Boston that we frequent, but aren’t necessarily “regulars”. There is one place we don’t go too often, but we had our first date there, got engaged there, and then went back for engagement photos. When we went last week for our dating anniversary, I didn’t even have to give my name and the manager said, “we didn’t have your table available, but we have the one next to it”. We felt so special!!

    My friends and I did have a bar in London that we went to 3-4 days a week when we studied abroad. It was fun to know the menu, know what we liked, be friends with the bartenders, and know that we would always have fun.

  132. This so resonated that I now have tears streaming as I type. These connections, especially now as a newly single person, are vital; they’re that sense of ‘home’. I love my neighborhood usuals. Comforting and affirming of the interconnectedness in this nutty world. I’ve met some of my closest and dearest lifelong friends throughout the years in this way…first in Northampton, MA, then in Boston, and at this stage, in Santa Barbara, CA. Serendipity at its best. Thanks so much for writing this, a lovely tribute to community first thing in the morning.

  133. txilibrin says...

    So jealous! I’d love to find a place like that, but no luck so far here in Boston :(

    • There are definitely good neighborhood-y spots in Boston! What neighborhood do you live in?

    • Meg says...

      When I lived in downtown Boston the Hill Tavern was that spot. I met my first Craigslist roommates there before I moved the city. Years later, my husband and I went there on our first (blind!) date. We continued to go each week, meeting friends, catching up after work, etc. We got married at the hotel across the street then moved the party back to the Hill for the after party. Closing the place down. Finally when sold our apartment and moved the ‘burbs we had a a drink to toast goodbye. We’ve been back since, but its not the same and its no longer an extension on our apartments.

  134. Erika says...

    I used to go to a sushi place about 4 nights a week with a good friend of mine. In fact, it’s where I met my husband. He was a sushi chef there. Now I’m just a regular at the restaurants he works at.

  135. I’ve never really been a regular at a restaurant before. But I also live in a small town in Kansas where “going out” is a big, big deal. :)
    However, ever since our friends opened a popular coffee shop in town 2 years ago, I’ve been showing up twice a week to write. I try to have a regular order but I just want to try everything.