Regulars

Becoming a regular seems pretty easy: go to a place. Go there again. Go again and again until they know your name. Repeat ad infinitum.

But that’s only half the battle…

It requires dedication. It requires patience. And once you’ve made it, like any good relationship it’ll require some maintenance. But we promise, it’ll be worth it.

Without any further ado, Kempt presents: The Gentleman’s Guide to Becoming a Regular.

Play the field.
You’re about to make one of the top three commitments in your life, so make sure that the establishment you’re choosing really merits your patronage. It could be the bistro a stone’s throw from your apartment that makes a mouthwatering seared tuna steak, or the whiskey bar on your way home from work with a cute, friendly bartender who can pour the perfect Manhattan. Whatever the case, take the menu for a spin, find a go-to and don’t forget, consistency is crucial; go back often to ensure that the first time they perfectly cooked your medium-rare prime rib wasn’t a chance occurrence.

Also of note: it’s worth considering where your newfound VIP status will get the most bang for your buck. We’re not saying to shoot for something Michelin-starred—though if you can, then hell, go for it—but it would be more useful to become a regular somewhere with a wait time than at the corner bar with open tables on a Friday night. You’re probably not going for Cheers here, after all.

Probably.

Take it to the next level.
Remember, the key word here is regular, so get a routine and stick to it. Perhaps have an offbeat addition or subtraction to your order, and always order it that way. Thousands of people order a Kobe burger every week, but only you ask for it with an over-medium egg at 8 o’clock on Thursdays. And only you will wait for that corner booth to eat it, even if there are plenty of open tables elsewhere in the restaurant.

Of course, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Introduce yourself to the maître d’. Banter candidly with the waiter or bartender. Get their names right. Don’t “send your compliments to the chef,” but do tip generously; it’ll give the same impression and you won’t seem like a caricature. Be someone they want to remember, not someone they just happen to.

Keep things open and honest…
Chances are, there’ll be the off night when you want to just stop in to unwind with a tumbler of scotch and a good book—kindly let the bartender know you’ll catch up on the usual chatter next week. As long as you don’t leave him guessing, your relationship will survive.

…but understand your boundaries…
Things happen. Places get swamped after a good review, chefs switch up the menu, bartenders have nights off. Take it all in stride. You’re a man who understands that there are limits to your entitlement, and trust us, it will not go unnoticed.

…and find where that line is and never cross it.
There’s a significant difference between “a regular” and “that guy who comes in on busy nights, won’t shut up and pisses off the bartender.”

Always, always navigate adversity with great care.
Nine times out of 10, being a regular will improve your night out. That 10th time, though, you’ll need to handle the situation. This can be dicey—you’ve already mixed business with pleasure, and there is no going back. Feel the situation out. If your chicken’s undercooked, let the waitress know (with aplomb, of course), but if it’s just a bit dry, suck it up. It’ll probably be better next time.

And if it’s not, well, we never said regularity had to be monogamous.

—S.P.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Stephen Praetorius