MetaCheers September 19, 2018 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about that place 'where everybody knows your name'. Maybe it's your local coffee house or a diner or a bar or the local yarn barn, whatever it is, wherever it is, this is the place where people know your name when you walk in the door. Maybe you have a place to sit that is always reserved for you. You might even have a coffee mug that only you use, or maybe it's as simple as knowing the entire staff. Tell me about this other family, this other home. Happy Wednesday friends!
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 11:24 AM (122 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I live in Vermont. Pretty much everywhere I go everyone knows my name.
posted by terrapin at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


I don't have a place like this, but I used to work in an office where the only walkable lunch options were a crummy diner and a Subway. Once the people at Subway started calling me by name I had to take stock of my life choices.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:33 AM on September 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


I don't have anywhere in particular but I'm very physically distinctive so I run the risk of becoming recognized anywhere I patronize often enough. I don't find this to be a pleasant experience!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:36 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


The woman checking ID at the entrance to Costco yesterday said "Good morning, honey!" when I walked in and the guy checking receipts at the exit cheerily said "See you tomorrow!" so, I'm afraid that might be it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:37 AM on September 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


I live far from where I was born, but my wife is a local. She looks *so* much like her mom, though, that she gets stopped frequently by someone who can guess who she is -- or rather, whose daughter she is.

And they're always right.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:38 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Dark Horse Inn! It's a pub style place that's kinda a bar but more like a restaurant so kids are welcome. Great craft beers, they just got a liquor licence if you'd like the harder stuff, and their food is amazing. Also I can walk there from my house! I've been going therefor a few years now and when I started my hair was buzzed so now that it's growing out in new and terrible ways the owner likes to come out and gently tease me about the general unruliness of my hair. They know that I like sour beers and whoever's on deck that day usually gives me a taste of whatever sour they have on tap before I can sit down. It definitely has a Cheers feel to me. It's a very friendly place so if you're in the neighborhood come on down!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:47 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


My urban neighborhood, not far from downtown, is basically a small town. I run into people I know everywhere I go. This can be nice, like when I am walking down the alley and run into a friend. Or it can be stifling, like when I go to the beach and run into two current students, three former students, and an ex boyfriend and it is impossible to have a peaceful quiet time.
posted by mai at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


There's this little Mexican restaurant I frequent, and I go there often enough that Carlos, the bartender, puts my food order in when I walk in, and gets out a big mug for the frosty beer I'm about to have. It's the little things.

When I used to go to the same bar after work 4 days a week, they knew when I walked in that I wanted a bourbon and diet and to be left alone until the first one was done. That was my quiet time, transitioning from the job back to being a human. After that, it was a friendly chat with Amber or Casey or Jamie, whomever was serving me that day.
posted by deezil at 11:51 AM on September 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


The manager at the Dunkin' Donuts at South Station recognizes me now. The other day I didn't even have to tell him my order, he just handed me my large cold brew black, shot my app with his scanner, and I was on my way.

In the winter, I make hot coffee at home and bring it to work in a thermos, so I am sure he will forget who I am and we'll have to go through the re-learning process in the spring.
posted by briank at 11:54 AM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also we have our own 4th of July Parade with the high school marching band and all the local businesses, and my students were parading by on their little scooters and saw me and literally screamed my name like I was Beyonce. So that was pretty cute.
posted by mai at 11:55 AM on September 19, 2018 [12 favorites]


1) My church. Been going there since I was seven years old. I park anywhere, I go into the office when the "closed" sign is up, I prowl in the basement looking for something I stored there 10 years ago, everyone just waves. (Data point: this might not be remarkable for small churches where every member has a key, but in this case it's a large, urban church with a large staff and everyone is always blocking one another to park since space is so limited.)

2) I went to Fire and Ice restaurant in Cambridge, MA at least once a week for more than ten years; I would just stomp in, sit at the bar, pull out my book, and they would cheerfully bring me my diet coke with a dozen cherries and tell me that the buffet didn't have the baby corn out today, but they would bring me some anyway with the rest of the meal. (And never once did I meet an eligible male there, despite keeping an eye out for them while reading, grump.) I met my current roommate who was a waiter there. We were both devastated when it closed. He found a new job, but I on the other hand have not found a new home. The F&I in Boston is nice, but it doesn't have a bar where you can eat and it's often crowded; hmmm. Other suggestions welcome! :)
posted by Melismata at 12:00 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hah, briank, mine is also the Dunkin' by work. They're great, they see me walk in the front door around 6:15am and immediately start making my large black cold brew (except for double point wednesdays when I order in advance!). But I realized recently that by using the app to pay all the time, I'm not tipping them anything, so I've been trying to remember to have some cash on hand and pay with a $20 and leave the remainder as a tip about once a month.
posted by Grither at 12:05 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


My street in Paris! Very similar to what this NYT Modern Love column describes.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:10 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


The butcher shop, oddly enough. Back when I was first learning how to break down carcasses and make sausage, I spent a lot of time there talking shop with the owners. They're the most reliable place to find fresh casings, so I was there quite a lot. Later on, they finally hired enough employees so that they didn't have to be there all hours of every day, so I got to chatting with them about food and other things.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:14 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Our local burrito place knows us well enough that they remember we don't like lettuce on our burritos (we often forget to say no lettuce). They were really excited for us when I was pregnant and eating there a couple times a week. Then they were super happy to meet the kid and love watching them make a mess of a plate of rice and beans (we clean up after).

There's also the coffee shop we go to a lot that knows my partner and I both like cappuccinos but one is almond (partner) and one is oat (me). When I get a drip coffee they are surprised.

And then there's my glasses guy who knows what types of frames I'm into and has already helped me source vintage frames for the kid, even though they don't need them yet.
posted by kendrak at 12:36 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to find that place.

It used to be my hiking club. Everyone knew me and I knew everyone. Then I dropped out of that circle and lost touch with everyone. When I went back after a few years I didn't know anyone and it wasn't the same. The old guard had left to make way for the new and I was no longer part of it.

I need to find a new place. The hobbies I've picked up in the past couple of years are largely solitary pursuits. There's a big community of folks out there on line, but I haven't yet broken into that circle of YouTubers and Instagramers and such.

Right now I think Metafilter and Twitter are the two places where I feel like I have that circle of folks I recognize and who recognize me.
posted by bondcliff at 12:48 PM on September 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I've got a couple.
  1. The Brunswick line on Maryland commuter rail. When I started taking the commuter train (as opposed to DC Metro) a couple years ago, I was sort of dumbfounded by many of the passengers' easy familiarity with each other, to the extent that I posted an AskMe about it (referencing Cheers in the post title, no less). Fast-forward a couple of years, and I'm one of the crowd. I ride with my wife and toddler every morning and evening. We have many train friends, have seen one of them socially outside of the train, and the kiddo has multiple "train aunties!"
  2. My church in downtown DC, which is an incredibly special place to me.

posted by duffell at 12:58 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've observed Donut Sunday at a tiny local Italian restaurant enough times that they know me by name and greet me Cheers style. It's nice but also makes me feel somewhat self-conscious about my donut consumption.
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:05 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've almost had it a few times, but in the big picture I'm pretty much a George Costanza in always wanting to have been a regular some place.
posted by rhizome at 1:07 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also have an Italian restaurant down the street that we've been going to ever since the 8-year-old was three months. They love the kids, serve great food, and greet me with a "Signora!" and a cheek kiss. We are on kissing basis with the owner, chef, waiter and barwoman. They also give us a shot of limoncello and usually comp our dessert, and we tip accordingly generously. It is a symbiotic relationship.
posted by Liesl at 1:10 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


My urban neighborhood on the Northside of Pittsburgh is like that. We know almost everyone on my street by name and it's basically impossible to walk anywhere in the neighborhood without running into someone I know. If my wife and I are in a hurry to get to a show or something it's always a triumph if we can get to the subway station or bus stop without getting caught in a conversation with a neighbor (or five).
posted by octothorpe at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


We have spent most of our Friday nights at the Graduate Student pub on the university campus here in Houston, for almost 35 years. The beer is cheap, the ambiance almost non-existent, the music too loud, and the bathrooms somewhat primitive. Friends gather at a table under the live oak trees, to discuss anything. The chances are that most of the folks in the group will have their PhD's, and many of them graduated from the university and are now retired. The student bar tenders often anticipate my order: a bock and a wheat beer.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:21 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


For so long it was karaoke nights (one that eventually ended, and then the other for even longer), and then I got to be Too Old to Go Out That Late on Thursday years old.

Now I got nothin'. Too many different places to go in Toronto I guess.
posted by wellred at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's a coffee house near by called 'The Fine Grind' and it's run by a friend of a friend. It's an eclectic mix of tabletop RPG/gamers, knitters, university students, and hipsters. What I love about this place is that Rob, the owner, will set you up with a tab if you're there frequent enough. He makes an effort to know each of his patrons and he's always pleasant and happy to have a conversation with you, but he's also good at knowing if you're not in the mood and just wanting to enjoy your coffee.

That I can say, “Put this on my tab.” is such a nice feeling. I don't like to let it get beyond $20, but it's nice that some days you can just walk in and enjoy the conversation, a cup of coffee and then leave it at that.
posted by Fizz at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh, wait, the coffee place downtown Providence, New Harvest Coffee & Spirits: large, black, hot dark roast, please.

(Still haven't tried any spirits...)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:38 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


My first name is a common noun very rarely used for a proper name - imagine someone named Hammer. Similarly, with facial piercings and being on the taller end of the spectrum for men my age, I'm somewhat distinctive. Which is to say that it's pretty easy for everyone to know my name.

At my physio's office despite being there "only" 5-10 times per year I'm always greeted by name. Maybe 5% of the clientelle there are greeted as such.

At a lot of the local (running) races, the race directors and/or photographers greet me by name at events. I'm faster than middle of pack, but definitely not a star local runner, and have only been running 4 years. Compared to other runners in my running group I race fewer events than most.

At our local Pho place and Pizza place everyone knows my name. At our last pizza place, the guy recognized my (and my wife's) voice (not callerID; Even if I called the first time from a non-standard number he would prompt for our usual order). Leaving that pizza place was one of the hardest parts about moving.

At our local sushi place, while they don't know our name, they know we order off the dinner menu, during lunch times (they officially allow this, so we're not just giant PITA's).

In general our neighborhood. I'm an introvert, but being the primary dog walker gets me out more. I know about 10 people by name, and another 20 that I have sporadic conversations with. I've only been introduced to one of the adults' kids, but there's at least 5 that will yell out Hi by name. The only time ever in my life that I've been referred to as a "social butterfly" has been my wife describing me in the neighborhood. When Ms. nobeagle walks the dog she'll report people staring a lot at her and assumes it's people realizing she's my wife via the shared dog and debating saying hi.

... I get the feeling that there are more places I'm known by name but I'm just not recalling.

Somewhat related, a number of times someone I rarely see (e.g. dental hygenist) will comment that they saw me running with the dog on X date at Y street. Combine that with friends of my wife that I haven't met, but they've seen me from her instagram pictures and it's like I'm always being watched.
posted by nobeagle at 2:01 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I go to an auction house with my parents every other Wednesday, and they know us all there now. We're on joking terms with the staff and they know our bidding number by heart. We're starting to make friends with the other auction regulars too (mostly dealers). It's really nice.

I've never really been a regular anywhere else, my parents moved around a lot when I was a kid and neither they nor I are "going out people." I would love a local, regular coffee shop but right round the corner from me is some fancy artisan coffee place that roasts their own beans so dark/ burnt that I find them completely, undrinkably, face-pulling-ly bitter and all the damn coffee shops around me buy it and now I only make coffee at home.

I am so jealous of my husband who grew up in one place, with a community, and knew all his neighbours and recognises people everywhere when he goes back to visit. I never had anything like that and I feel like my personal history is un-mired and floating in space somewhere. My dream is to settle somewhere smaller and build an actual local community for myself.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:36 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


As nobeagle's wife, I am always delighted when people tell me where they saw him and what he was doing at the time. It's hilarious. It's even funnier because often they WANT to go say hello but realize that he'll have no idea who THEY are, so they just text me the same way you'd text someone about a celebrity sighting. It's really, really great. ("I AM AT THE GROCERY STORE AND NOBEAGLE IS HERE!!! HE'S BUYING APPLES!!!")

As for where I'm known by name - - local drug houses - well, any place, really, where (marginalized) people gather to take drugs. Random campsites on public land are a pretty solid possibility for being recognized. Local social service agencies that work with people who take drugs.

I do a lot of workshops/trainings and presentations, as well as media appearances, so a lot of people know who I am (and I have zero idea who they are - which is awkward). I try really hard to be on good behaviour in public.
posted by VioletU at 2:37 PM on September 19, 2018 [20 favorites]


I never thought I'd say this, but... the place where they all know my name is the gym. Granted, it's a brand new facility and the staff is almost all super eager teenagers working their first jobs or college age kids who greet me by name before I even hand over my membership card to be scanned and say things like "aw yisssss you're wearing those pants that make me happy!" (and I really need that girl to calm down, I'll grant you that they're cute workout pants but I'm worried about how she's going to react when I have to stop wearing them in a month because they're too big). I'm sure their enthusiasm for my presence is largely a factor of corporate training and a dash of adherence to a routine (I'm in there almost every day at roughly the same time, so for them it's maybe a bit like seeing another coworker), but it's still nice to be recognized and greeted warmly, especially since I work from home and the social isolation can get a little weighty.

But speaking of the gym... a couple of weeks ago I passed an SUV as I left the gym, and it had a personalized plate that said MEFI. Did I miss a chance encounter with a Washingtonian MeFite? Reveal yourself, friend!
posted by palomar at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2018 [16 favorites]


I stop going to a place as soon as the staff start recognizing me. It's usually a sign that I've been buying my dinner too often. If they know my order, it's *really* time to stop.

I apparently thrive on a total lack of customer service.
posted by pemberkins at 2:59 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don't have places like that, exactly, but I know the baristas at the coffee shop where I organize a weekly asexuality meetup know me on sight and can more-or-less predict my usual order. We try to stay outside where no one needs to hear the cackling and the occasional weird conversation, but sometimes the weather herds us inside. I overheard one of them explaining us to a new staff member once.

I try to tip when I can in thanks for the space.
posted by sciatrix at 3:15 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've had the same dentist and the same car mechanic for a quarter century so they both know me by name. It's hard to stay with one medical doctor since you can never seem to stay in the same network when you switch jobs so I've ended with a whole series of them.
posted by octothorpe at 3:30 PM on September 19, 2018


The Starbucks around the corner from my office knows me and my routine so well that if I don't come in or order something out of the ordinary they ask and talk amongst themselves to see if anyone has heard anything about my well-being.

Like one time I ordered a Venti chai latte in advance whilst partially asleep. I asked for 6 extra shots of what I thought was chai syrup. When I walked in (it wasn't busy) all the baristas were waiting for me at the pickup area. "Um, so, we have your drink..." they said in an odd voice. I thanked them, took a sip, then did a partial spit take. Six shots = six shots of espresso. Espresso plus chai = no no no. The whole lot was like, "We didn't know what to do!!! We we're so confused, you've never ordered anything like that before and we didn't have a way to ask you about it!!!" Then they produced the correct drink and sent me on my way with a gentle, "Please get some sleep, honey,".

They also set aside sandwiches and certain pastries that I like and hide them so that when I come in they haven't run out of my favorites. I am very spoiled.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:54 PM on September 19, 2018 [18 favorites]


I am a person who thrives on routine. The guys I worked with in Cote d'Ivoire told me "I hope nobody ever tries to assassinate you - it would be very easy because you are very predictable." The folks at my local coffee shop know me. The folks at my local ramen place know me. The folks at the pub down the street where I keep having failed dates know me. The guy at my T stop knows me. The nice Ethiopian ladies at the convenience store where I used to buy an obscene amount of seltzer every day know me (and now that I've cut down on my seltzer consumption, they are SO HAPPY to see me whenever I have to go to the convenience store). They also know my dad, because I brought him to get seltzer last time he visited, and they ask me about him every time.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:41 PM on September 19, 2018 [28 favorites]


We live near a fun little street that has some pretty good restaurants and bars in about a 4-5 block length, and there's about 5 places my husband and I frequent on a regular basis and have for years at this point. And the people at these places know us well; they put smiles on our faces all the time because we're happy to see them and them, us. At some of these places we somehow even know some of the cooks - one of the cooks at once place always adds a little extra to my food even if it's just making it look really pretty or doubling the side dish. Most of the employees at these places give us discounts or free beers (or all the chapati I can eat), which we never ever expect but are always thankful. I get texts from the awesome manager at our curry place whenever they do something special with eggplant because he knows how much I adore eggplant. That's a level above and beyond!

We're on such a first name basis at those places that it's even personal: some of the employees have been to our house for dinner; I'm currently training for a half-marathon with two of the bartenders at our pizza place; and yeah, we've closed a few places down and had people crash at our house on the floor. We're been to some weddings. I've had a few women knock on my door (how so many know where we live mystifies us) because they've had some kind of clothing problem like a busted bra while working, and rather than going home just ran over to our place. But they also know they can use us with new servers or when they're learning/getting new drinks or food they know they can use us as guinea pigs. Or give us the shit table when they're super busy knowing we won't complain because we're just happy to be there. It's weird to say but it's almost like they *trust* us as customers, which makes me feel very fortunate and humble. They're all awesome, not to mention incredibly skilled and knowledgeable.

But the employees at the local coffee shop are the closest it comes to Cheers. They actually do call out my name when I come in, and if there's nobody ahead of me automatically start making my usual. They reserve the last chocolate croissant for me when they get them in if I haven't been in yet. The entire staff and I have exchanged hugs multiple times. I know all of their partners and what's going on with them outside of work. When a few have left they've always been really excited to tell me about their new opportunities (and I've been excited to hear them!). I hiked part of the Continental Divide Trail this summer and when my husband came up to resupply me they sent treats with him, including little cards about how much they missed me. After I got back, to my delight and actual tears-of-gratitude inducing surprise, they got together with the baker that supplies the shop to bake my favorite kind of cake as a "congratulations". Then we sat in the back after closing, drank drinking chocolate, and ate it together. How marvelous of them. (It was so touching of them I cried.) I adore them all and don't deserve them.

We honestly don't understand how we came to be such favored regulars - which we clearly are - at some of the places, but partially suspect it's because we both really love food/drink and most of these places have employees for whom their jobs are a passion, so we all dig one another. We love hearing them nerd out about their jobs and skills! Or maybe our rapidly gentrifying neighborhood has an even bigger dearth than usual of people who realize the employees are actual human beings with skills and feelings. One thing that has stuck with me over the years about being a "regular" is what a bartender from a long ago neighborhood once said: regulars she liked made her job bearable. Don't know if that's true for everyone but sure think about it a lot.
posted by barchan at 5:13 PM on September 19, 2018 [24 favorites]


barchan I'm going to quote that in any and all training I run for the rest of my life.
posted by vrakatar at 6:13 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Scott at the bottle-o knows my name.
posted by h00py at 6:27 PM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


There was a pub in Chicago that was the first (and to date) the only place I ever became a regular.

I think I avoided becoming a regular in places for years because I grew up in a small town and the constant recognition was stifling. There was so much pressure from my parents to represent the [second Asian] family [in town] well in front of all these beady-eyed gossips that for many years I equated being recognized with high-stakes reputational risk. And then years later the servers at this pub started remembering my favorite beer, and then our favorite table, and then knowing exactly when to pop in and ask about a second round until suddenly one day I realized what it meant to feel at home in a pub.

It was a good place. It's the one thing I still really miss about Chicago. I feel weird posting its name here, but MeMail me for a nice, quiet (TV-free!) pub on the North Side.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 7:14 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I have proof-read and trouble-shot a favorite store's web site through three major iterations, for the freebies and to do a great guy a favor. It's become kind of a tradition at this point. (They are still incoherent with their hyphens.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:16 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking this was finally achieved when the owner at the pizza place we frequent on our way to the cabin up north started buying us drinks, and telling us in advance when they are closed for vacation. Also about the same time when the wait staff stopped giving us menus. We go there....a lot. It helps that we go year round, so we are there sometimes when there's only one or two locals in the place. It really is the perfect place for us...casual, friendly people, and fantastic food. Nice to stop there after 3 hours of driving, even if we only have about 20 more minutes to our destination.
posted by TheFantasticNumberFour at 7:17 PM on September 19, 2018


Let's see. There was the great burrito place in Berkeley where Dr Bored for Science and I didn't even have to order; they just knew what we wanted.

There's one Chinese restaurant in Cambridge I've been going to since I was wee, where the owner will ask Dr Bored for Science and I, when we walk in the door, "is the professor coming?" - she means my father, who has been eating at her restaurant for longer than I've been alive.

My usual food truck on campus knows I just want their stuff with rice, hold the side salad (not because I don't like salad, but because it doesn't fill me up otherwise).

We belong to the same synagogue I grew up going to... so there are quite a few people who do the "I knew you when" which isn't quite the same thing.

There's the ice cream shop (that we're waiting for them to reopen near us) where my family has been going there since the early '80s and the owner watched me and my brothers grow up...

And then there's Alden and Harlow, where Dr Bored for Science and I got married (it'll be two years next week!), where they may not know what we want (their menu changes too much), but where they're really, really happy to see us.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 7:23 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I live in the Maine woods but see a lot of Vermont people just booking it through my neighborhood and I want to ask why?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:25 PM on September 19, 2018


I'm not on a highway. I'm out in the country. It's not an obvious highway to Vermont.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:29 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


There is a divine patisserie across the street from work, where as soon as they see me pull up on my bike in the morning, they are pouring my coffee. If I take the bus because of foul weather, which gets me in a few minutes early, they notice. If I'm late, they notice. When it's "free coffee because the punch card is filled" day, they always insist on giving me a large.

Honorable mentions go to the coffee/donut place where I ride to on the weekends. I've been going there since it opened, and it feels like an extension of my living room. Certainly I've spent enough hours on the couch there.

And there's the ramen place down the hill from my apartment. I have been going there since the day it opened, and a couple years ago when I once left my debit card at home, they were like, "yeah, it's ok, you can go home and get it; we know you."
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:35 PM on September 19, 2018


I had a coffee shop for a season.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:56 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


My teenage son is making himself known--in a good way--to his co-workers, just by doing them small kindnesses. He helped an older lady lift something heavy. He chats with vendors and always tells them to have a good day. He rescued some girls from yellowjackets by buying them a little stick of incense to burn, to keep insects away. When he leaves work, the security staff tells him goodbye by name, because he stopped and introduced himself one day. I'm so proud.

Also a bit amused by the number of girls who have asked his name and given out their phone numbers. VIRTUE IS SUPPOSED TO BE ITS OWN REWARD, HONEY.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:12 PM on September 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


I went through a phase of going to the Starbucks across from my office every morning and getting the same order. When the app came out with mobile ordering, I placed an order as I got out of the subway. It's 2 blocks to Starbucks. I walked up to the pickup counter, and the barista said "Hi Amy, here's your tall soy chai" and I felt like a rockstar. Also a yuppie.

I am obsessed with a salad at a lunch spot near my current office. The guy knows my exact order. I walk up and he starts punching my order into the cash register immediately (roasted beet salad, add chicken, no onions). I don't think he knows my name, but that doesn't bother me!

In our old neighborhood, the dry cleaner knew me and my husband. We both brought stuff there, but he more frequently than me (shirts washed and pressed). I would sometimes swing by to pick up his shirts, and she would grab his shirts for me without me even handing over the ticket. I liked that a lot.
posted by radioamy at 8:42 PM on September 19, 2018


Loving the Wed-Nes-Day MetaTalkTails type post!

Funnily enough, I'd been thinking about something related to this a few hours ago. Anyhow, the only place which fulfils the "where everybody knows your name" criteria for me is Work. Sad as that sounds it's actually quite sweet to me. I'm rubbish at the whole name-exchange thing IRL or on the clock, so I give and get a lot of "mate", "bud", plus the occasional "sir" or "dude". Whenever I take time off work there's always another customer/client or three afterwards who'll now address me by my name who didn't before, presumably because they asked in my absence where "the astonishingly charming and competent fellow wearing glasses" (or whatever description) was and got told "Oh, I'm always feeling, Blue is on holiday".

Makes me feel appreciated, even if I'm more likely merely experienced as part of the expected furniture!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:49 PM on September 19, 2018


The least classy of the four hookah bars in town, The Nile Cafe. My son likes hookah, and I smoke cigarettes -- both of which you cannot do in any public establishment except a hookah bar, where we live. It is not a fancy place, the Nile, but I adore it. It is open until 4 am. It has tables on the patio outside, overhung with red bougainvillea which drops spiders on your head. (I remember when they planted the bougainvillea!) It serves kickass chicken shawarma -- never the same way twice but always excellent. The owner is there all night, smoking hookah with a bunch of other elderly middle eastern dudes at the big table on the patio. We tip the stoners who work there very generously -- in cash, in their hands -- because the owner is completely charming to us but a bastard to them, and they never last long.

Though actually, now that I think about it, no one there knows my name. They call my son by his name, and to all of them, I am "Mommy of [son's name]", whether my son is with me that night or not, though I've been going there almost ten years. That's alright. It is the only public place where I feel as at ease as I do at home.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Low Brow Lounge in Portland, oh so many many years ago, back when the clientele were all junkies and The Pearl was dominated by the cop horse corral. This is back when heroin hit China Town like an atom bomb, depopulating whole city blocks.

Not that I hold myself above the junkies, mind; that one day at 3pm on Sunday the bartender asked me how to cook shrimp, I gave him my best guess, he paused for literally four minutes, said "that sounds just terrible" and I said "well, to be honest I hate seafood" he laughed, hooked me up with his dealer and I stopped hating TriMet.

It's all condos now.
posted by aramaic at 10:21 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Oh, and then Tumans Alcohol Abuse Center, with that one goddamn pipe running through the room that was always practically red hot so you'd burn yourself anytime you were drunk or high enough to look for Sunday Morning Coming Down on the jukebox, and the bouncer trying to keep the incoherent party from spilling onto the sidewalk before Pot Lady had her chance to arrive.
posted by aramaic at 10:32 PM on September 19, 2018


I went to a pub near work with co-workers only 2 or 3 times, I swear! I walked in one day with my husband and the staff called out 'Hey Goodsearch!' My husband looked at me like 'What have you not been telling me!' One of the best Cheers moments I have had! We moved since then to a small town where our local is now the hardware store!
posted by goodsearch at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2018


I'm known to some degree at at least three coffee shops near campus. One of them usually hires college students as baristas, and I've been going there long enough to have the students who recognized me graduate and leave, but the older Italian man who owns the place--and who I met less than a week after moving here--still knows me.

Also, a few of the folks at the bike co-op where I first took a mechanics class nearly five years ago still recognize me--and they all got to know me a bit better this week, as I spent close to 12 hours turning a badly neglected bike (approximately my age, but not as well kept) into something functional again.

One of my favorite things about my city is that even though it's a medium-sized city (with the usual benefits of a city), if you spend most of your time around campus/downtown it's very likely you'll run into a lot of the same people. I'm not even especially outgoing, and it still feels like see people I know everywhere I go. My extrovert friends seem to know everyone in town.
posted by egregious theorem at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2018


I live in a small city that feels like a small town. It's pretty isolated and surrounded by wilderness. I definitely don't know everyone who lives here, but there's a certain crowd (progressive, into arts and culture) who all seem to patronize the same places (art and culture spaces, independent bookstore, brewpubs and local independent restaurants and cafes, library) and I literally cannot go to these places without seeing several people I know. I went to a jazz concert the other night and knew not only half the band, but about 70% of the audience too. I have never worried about going to a cultural event or protest alone because I know I'll be invited to sit/stand with someone before long.

(I usually like it--I seldom feel lonely or isolated here, and I recognize how fortunate I am--but boy howdy, sometimes I would like some anonymity. I love big cities for that very reason. I know it's bad when I'll see someone's car outside a place and think, oh so-and-so must have the day off today if they're out for coffee at this hour! No secrets in this place.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:34 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, and the local restaurant where the waitress has an impeccable memory. As we sit down she gives us the details on the special order pizza we created. Now the owner and other waitresses get in on the fun. We were just talking about the pizza and then realized that was the order being taken...Hey, wait we'd like to add a salad to that! Thanks!
posted by goodsearch at 10:41 PM on September 19, 2018


Liking that this is a midweek post, as it fills in the gap before the MetaTalkTails in several days time, and is both an opposite (in positioning in the week) and an accompaniment (it's positive chat).

My place is The Anchor Inn, in the village of Walton on the Wolds (also goes by the name of Walton-Le-Wolds). An unusual choice of pub perhaps, because I don't live anywhere near it and getting there involves either a long walk (though as it's where several nice walks converge this is no hardship) or an unreliable bus service.

It's a small and pretty village, the only historical thing of note being that a series of an old TV drama called Boon was filmed there. The pub itself looks good all seasons - spring, summer, autumn and winter - and has a dog with attitude who begs incessantly, when not in front of one of the fires. Wednesday night is also fish and chip night, and sometimes there are birthday parties, receptions and anniversaries where the locals and regulars often get invited in and there's sometimes cake.

But it's those locals and regulars, and Pauline the landlady, who make the Anchor my favourite social place this side of the Mississippi. Whether at Christmas and wearing seasonal clothing, or when it's crowded because of an event, or a quieter late night, the conversation is always convivial and often hilarious, and the people friendly. It's the only pub where I've heard mutually respectful conversations about the most contentious political issues, and as per usual for village pubs is the centre of information - accurate, exaggerated, speculation or ridiculous - about the minutae of local life.

Random strangers also randomly wander in and add something; on my very first time there, someone came in and tried to give people a bag of fish. No-one knew who he was, and he never came back. That kind of thing. Other individuals and groups drift in, such as local freemasons, morris dancers (who perform in the car park then drink staggering amounts of beer), passing bikers, horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists, hikers, and people who just like a nice pub in a nice village.

So that's my "local which is not local" and, yes, everyone there knows my name.
posted by Wordshore at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Oh man, these recent questions have been awesome but oh so personally difficult.

I've talked about it and don't want to dig in again, but I recently lost one of those places and am still fighting for it, another just went up for sale - but yet another is just opening and is going to be something I've wanted for ages, which is an adult but non-alcoholic place that was open later where I could get coffee and wifi and good people.

But this is making me realize that the answer to this question is likely my whole town and geographic region, and I'm very thankful for it. I'm often or usually greeted by name all over the place. On the street, in stores, on the bus.

One of the reasons I went on my bike trip is to see how long it took until I got homesick. It was about 4 days this time, which is the current standing record. It usually only takes two days.

Even on my bike tour I ran into someone I knew from town 50+ miles from home at a camp ground and he was out there with his family. I actually saw him twice but was thinking there was no way it could be him until he waved at me on trip to the water station.

Coming back into town early I got a lot of "Oh hey, how was the trip? I haven't seen you in a week or two!" which is exactly what I wanted, really, and, y'know, exactly why I did my slow victory roll through town for well earned cheeseburgers and beers before even going home to unpack the bike. It's some straight up twee fantasy RPG shit. "Oh, I heard a rumor you were leaving leaving! Welcome home!"

In general it's not uncommon for me to go out for a pint and find that one friend or another has secretly cleared my tab and has even pocketed my debit card to hand off to me later. And I can't even be mad about that because I know the servers and that they're in on it and it's all sincere and I don't feel insecure or threatened or weird about it at all. It's actually really charming and heartwarming because my friends know I don't have a job right now and cash and income is very tight again, and I'm mainly going out to find them for company anyway to be social.

Tangential: I've been living out here for four years, and I just went to my first proper outdoor rave and dance party in the area. Also at the last minute and unplanned, just like I used to do, even with the "Wait, where's your camping gear?" "You're looking at it!" part I like to do, because I had a bunch of stuff still packed from the bike tour.

It's been, oh, more than 8 years since I've heard a good soundsystem outdoors under the stars and not in some noisy permitted city park for a few hours in the afternoon.

And it was amazing. And if you know me, you know this is totally home for me.

I knew two out of three DJs and half the people on the dance floor and spent a lot of the night having run ins with people that went a lot like "OMG, we were just talking about you and wondering if you'd make it!", apparently specifically because of how much I've been talking about how great outdoor parties are and how much I've missed them and hearing good dance/bass music outdoors.

I've had confirmation from multiple vectors that some small part of this is actually my fault due to talking about things and encouraging people so much. "Yeesss, do it. Buy instruments and sound systems!" and showing some people digital DJing, answering production and tech questions. Every time I've jammed with someone I'm surprised I know the answers to things and it usually ends with all parties learning something new. Like that stuff I want artistically and musically in my life has been sown in small ways in a community garden and is still growing and evolving, which I like a lot.

So in various words about a dozen people wanted to know how I liked it and if it passed muster in my opinion as, apparently, resident honored elder raver/dancer.

How did I like it?

Oh my yes, I liked it very much. It was legit. Lots of nice people. Great dance floor, views, camping, plenty of free food and water and a community bar. They went till dawn, and as I like it I was one of the last few standing. I even did some gimpy cane-and-sore-back dancing and did that stealth thing I like to do where the nerd suddenly throws down and people who don't know me yet are first thinking "Ok, what's that nerd doing here?" but then they're thinking "Oooohhh damn ok they're super freaky ok ok."

The cops even showed up because one of our party of about 200 got lost and decided to take a nap in the ditch on the highway a good mile out. Thankfully he was very colorfully dressed, so someone driving by noticed, and the sheriffs nicely returned him to the obvious source which could only be the thudding bass music coming from deep in the forest at two in the morning. Then they nicely asked if we could think about turning it down by about, oh, four or five AM maybe and politely left, and so we did. They needed to take the main sound down anyway due to increased rain, and it was just a dozen of us at the fire by that late hour as well, so the smaller monitors were fine.

While I'm sure some folks in the valley weren't happy with the noise at all, I did hear about at least three not actually noise complaints from as far as two miles away. Two of those three showed up at the party, saying things like "OMG I COULD HEAR IT ALL THE WAY FROM MY HOUSE THAT WAS SO AWESOME! I DON'T CARE IF I HAVE TO WORK IN 5 HOURS." which included one younger dude I know from town and my last job that loves spinning blinky poi and fire.

The third first hand noise "complaint" I heard about, the confirmed 2 mile away report, was the one that didn't show up to the party. Who was also my housemate's ex HS teacher who is quoted as saying "If I'd known you it was YOU guys and that you were all actually going until dawn I would have joined you!"

I have a meandering point about extended and secondary homes, here:

And it is that there seems to be a sudden blooming of creative spaces opening up all over this part of the area/county. The general neighborhood might want to get used to the idea of fairly loud amplified music and dance festivals, because I know of about half a dozen different new performance-oriented projects that are actually actively happening, with several more in the works, and this is not including the actual purely commercial venues opening up all over the place, including 2-3 dedicated and brand new professional recording studios.

All owned and operated by Gen X or younger, interested in new music and curating a new local and modern sound, not - my apologies - retired wealthy boomers with no actual skin or blood or sweat in the game that just want to comfortably dawdle and noodle in the musical/cultural past.

So over the past week or so I've heard a bunch of heartening cultural news that was really needed on my end.

I had a friend come to me after my bike tour and call me up and offer me a personal VIP tour of their new art/music/bookstore/cafe space they're opening up, all carefully in the context of "Hey, now that you've had some well earned grieving time after your last job, check out this thing we're doing and opening up. What do you think?" and I was totally blown away by it, the offer and the care about it all.

"I think this is incredible and totally beautiful and the best thing I've heard of in months. I can't wait."

Also, I'm DJing on Friday. It's weird, technically I'm in charge of this whole show and it's been in the works for three months but it's basically just been on easy mode and auto pilot. My own set just fell into place with zero effort because I had three months to dig new music. A sound system is showing up. My two co-performers have been taking it all very seriously, even investing in new hardware. I whipped up the fliers but everyone else just took the files and did the printing and even handing fliers back to me to hand out.

I'll be walking around town and see fliers up in all kinds of places and keep going "Oh, hey, that's me!"

This is all great and very relaxed delegation and most of my effort now beyond telling people about the show is essentially "Hey, thanks for doing that, taking point on that other thing and just being great to work with." and it feels like I've hardly had to do anything at all.

Actual fortune cookie from the food bank today reads - and please note, I don't normally get fortune cookies at the food bank, and yeah, it's kind of silly but I needed it:

"You create your own stage and your audience is waiting!"
posted by loquacious at 12:29 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I have a couple pubs where I am known; one because we used to live next door to the original pub but we switched allegiance when the landlord bought the freehold of another pub, so when we pop in to his pub, we are greeted, which is nice. I am also known at our actually close to our flat local, to the point where in the past if t'hb had booked the table for the quiz/sunday roast and I got there first, they got a little panicky if they were fully booked. They've connected t'hb's name with me now though, so that's ok. (I didn't change my name and do most of the table bookings).

The coffee shop at work knows my name and order but it has been 6 years.

It will be interesting to see if we find locals as nice near new house (when that finally happens, oh my god, I hate the English housebuying system with the power of several burning suns.)
posted by halcyonday at 1:26 AM on September 20, 2018


I love the familirarity of making these "third places" a small home-away-from-home, or in my case a "dining room". I first started this with a small cafe/luncheonette that was down the street from our elementary school where my dad would drive us every day after school. I *always* ordered the same thing: buttered cuban bread toasted on the sandwich plancha so it was smushed flat and a hot chocolate. This got to the point where we could just pull up in the car and the guys working the kitchen would spy us through the window and get started on our order even before we had gotten inside and ordered at the counter. That always stayed with me as a treasured memory, and I think, subconsciously has guided me to recreate this relationship with food places I have found during my travels.

So, I have this relationship with the guy making fresh fruit smoothies (batidas) in a hut on the beach in Ecuador.

I have it with the "Oh Mar" restaurant, also in Ecuador, that *knows* that during my vacation I am there for their shrimps in coconut sauce with rice and fried plantains and do not want *anything* else but that.

I have this with the restaurant "Dinner" in London - which I visit as often as I can - and who are aware of my undying love for their porkchops (truly, it is the standard against which all other pork chops in my life are measured against, now and forever). They cemented our relationship during my last visit when, after a week of absolutely grueling, exhaustive, emergency work, I just needed to get "way way away" from the office. I called them and was ready to beg for a table with 2 hours notice, and all they said was "Mr. Alchemist? What a pleasure to hear from you again. Of course we have a table for you, and the pork chops are *especially* good tonight. Please just arrive whenever you are ready.".

When I am in the US, I have this relationship with "Bouchon" in Las Vegas which is my french oasis away from the madness of the Strip. It took a few visits but I started noticing that the waiters were offering more suggestions ("oh, you should try this mocktail. it wasn't on the menu last time you were here"), and extra treats ("here's a preview of the dessert we will be starting tomorrow. what do you think?"), and off menu choices ("you mentioned yesterday that you hadn't had Beef Bouguignon in a while, the chef made some today for you. Would you like that?"), and then finally the last visit where I wasn't offered a menu and the waiter just said "what would you like to have tonight?" (basically I could order whatever I wanted). Each and every visit I made sure to show my appreciation for their generosity and even ordered beers for the kitchen. I truly love that they make me forget where I am and just let me enjoy a meal for a couple of hours.

Here in Copenhagen I have this with a steakhouse called MASH. It was really noticed by my work colleagues when we had a celebratory dinner at MASH and we were sitting in our booth (I was furthest away agains the wall) and the waiter was clearing the plates to make room for dessert and at one point said "Alchemist, could you please pass me the salt cellar? Thanks." My colleagues were a bit amazed at the familiarity and, apparently, they do not cultivate these type of relationships. I must admit that caught me a bit by surprise because up until that point I had, perhaps naively, thought that everyone had good relationships with their favorite places....

I am not one to demand/expect any for of VIP status (I also don't really have money to throw around to buy my way in to anything as I see on tv), and that is definitely not what I am looking for, I just love these places and I make sure they know it - as OP write "this other family, this other home" as this is exactly how I feel when I visit.
posted by alchemist at 2:06 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


One of the reasons I live in a city is because I don't really want this (though of course I live in Pittsburgh which is the biggest small town in the world and the chances that the new hire at your office is your high school swim coach's sister--true story--are very high).

However my block is this place. I live on a two-block-long dead end street, down at the dead end end, and everyone knows everyone. The first nice day of the spring, everyone emerges from their homes and forms dyads and triads up and down the block to exchange a few months worth of pent-up gossip. When I'm working in my garden, I have to stop every 20 minutes because someone is out for a walk and stops to talk. Everyone knows my kid, and he plays with all the other kids on the block. The old folks give the kids random presents. Halloween is a street party.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:18 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not where I am right now, because everyone asks me my full name, date of birth, and whether I'm allergic to anything every time they walk in the room. I have a nickname as the "poo guru" (nice ring to it, right?) because everyone wanted such fine detail about the colour that I started taking pictures for them. An educated observer has told me that I seem to be losing form, but c'mon, give me a break, this is a new sport to me. I have had the pleasure of introducing myself (on shift changeover) to one lovely woman by saying "look what I made!" And to another, "check out this shit!" Oh, and I still have to keep an eye out for something that will blink at me - maybe tomorrow, this too shall pass.
posted by b33j at 3:40 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sorry for crappy post. I just had to dump on someone. It's Turdsday, after all.
posted by b33j at 3:41 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


One of the reasons I live in a city is because I don't really want this (though of course I live in Pittsburgh which is the biggest small town in the world and the chances that the new hire at your office is your high school swim coach's sister--true story--are very high).

I've never had a job in the last decade and a half where I wasn't wasn't working with at least one ex-coworker or a spouse of an ex-coworker. I went to one job and out of the twenty people who worked there, one was the husband of a coworker at my previous job, one was the wife of an ex-coworker and one was the husband of a professor of mine. I've had the same manager at my last two jobs and another coworker has worked with me at two other places.
posted by octothorpe at 5:13 AM on September 20, 2018


Well, they don't know my name, but I've taken to going to a furn, an oven here in Jbeil (7000 years old and counting) for a daily breakfast of spinach fatayer and cheese manoushe. The woman who owns the furn and I don't share language, but she gives me a big kiss every time I come and often adds on a treat. Her daughter who was there once said it was because even though I am obviously foreign I look sort-of Lebanese. Mr Tav, who accompanies me, is completely ignored, which is a rare reversal as usually he's the one who gets along with strangers while I skulk in the background. I will miss her and her spectacular fatayer when we leave.
posted by tavegyl at 5:19 AM on September 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


There's a local practice space where I've gotten friendly enough with the owners to have been invited over for tea, given my own set of keys to the shop, and occasionally get asked to let someone in when the owners forget they have someone booked in and are out of town when they should be letting them in, which I think is pretty much the deal in exchange for the fact that they rarely let me pay for using the space any more. That is easily the most welcome I have been in a space since the pubs I was a regular lock-in participant at, years ago, in a different, pre-transition life. Other than that, there were a couple of venues where everyone knew who I was, but they've all closed, except one. I'm pretty sure I'm infamous as much as liked there, though!
posted by Dysk at 5:53 AM on September 20, 2018


One of the local coffee shops, which I've visited at least three or four times every week for nearly twenty years. And the local bookstore.

When I was a graduate student in Chicago, my weekly dining treat was pizza at the nearby Giordano's. Eventually, the owner started comping me every few visits.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I live in a town of 800 permanent residents and a small liberal arts college. Not only do I see everyone I know here all the time, I have started strategically not seeing people. All the faculty do it, I've noticed - you would never get anywhere in town if you stopped to say hi to everyone you know every time you saw them.

When I go home to Winnipeg, ("home," I haven't lived there since the late 90s,) I have noticed that I talk to people differently. Whether or not I knew them when I still lived there, I assume that I know the people at the bakery, the people playing at the park with their kids, everyone at the Folk Festival, the people my mom knows. Small talk is expansive and comfortable.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:44 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I live in Los Angeles. You might think that means there is no way to find places like this, but you would be wrong. There is a mom and pop market about a mile from my house. They are more expensive than Ralph's or other big markets and they don't have nearly the range of products, but they are awesome and have the best butcher counter anywhere, good produce and a great ice cream selection, so I am there at least once a week to listen to the old cashier lady bitch about new customers who don't know the rules and to listen to the guys behind the butcher counter use the same jokes on every patron.

I work one block from the busiest highway (freeway) in the U.S. (405) between the 2 busiest interchanges (101 and 10). There is a gas station on the corner that makes a damn good breakfast burrito. They also make a fairly serviceable egg salad sandwich. I feel sorry for the people that just come to get gas and a red bull. Everyone knows me. The cashier, the cooks, the manager. They all know me. I don't go in every day, or even every week, but if I don't go in every two weeks, I make an excuse to go. They are so freaking sweet. I know we're going to move from this building one day and I will miss my gas station crew.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:57 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I started to mope that I don't have a place like this at my current point in life, but I realized I do. It's a playground.

Being a stay-at-home parent and dedicated introvert in a new area felt SO isolating for the first 18 months. I started making a concerted effort to Go Places and Do Things instead of raising a second-generation hermit. This playground was one of the first places I started venturing out to, and I remember how lonely and uncomfortable it felt to watch everyone else chit-chatting as I hovered awkwardly behind my kid. It's a "destination" playground in a metro area that attracts lots of young families, so it's not like these were necessarily neighbors or families from the same school, and yet everyone else seemed to know folks. Except me.

Now it's three years later and my kid and I only go there occasionally, but we always run into families we know. It is astounding to me how much our lives have changed and how this area truly is home now. I don't think I'd realized quite how much better it's been until this question.
posted by Ann Telope at 8:20 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


You'll note that I occasionally refer to a place near me that I call "Best Bar In The World". Search my comments for that phrase and you'll find a couple tales, but I don't know if I've yet told my two favorites, one of which is an Origin Story:

* Story One: So before BBitW opened, it was a corner bodega, which one day lost its lease on the corner and moved about 3 doors down the block. After it had moved out, suddenly a bunch of scaffolding went up on that corner - and stayed up a long time. I would pass that corner and that scaffolding a lot - I live 3/4 of a block down the hill from that corner, and it is right on my route to and from subways and across from my bank and around the corner from a bagel place I hit up, so it's very much part of my landscape. So everyone in the neighborhood knew something was coming, but no one seemed to know what - all we knew was that whatever was going on, the renovations inside seemed to be extensive, since they went on all winter.

One morning as I went to work I saw that the scaffolding was starting to come down, revealing huge windows - I got excited that finally I'm gonna see what this place is! But when I was heading home from work, I saw that they'd put paper up over the windows and I still couldn't see. There were no announcements of any kind, no notices, not even a flyer about a soft opening, nothing. I even asked people who i regularly saw at the laundromat, but no one knew anything.

So one night when I was on my way home from work and finally saw that the paper had come down from the windows, and two guys talking by a bar indoors, I opened the door and walked in past a sawhorse and asked. "Sorry, I know you aren't open - but the suspense is killing me, when do you open and what are you?"

The guys cracked up and introduced themselves; they were Kier, then the head bartender, and Gerry, one of the co-owners (I would meet the other co-owner, Gerry's girlfriend Audrey, later). "We're gonna be a gastro-pub," they said, "with some of our own beer on tap along with other beer, and cocktails, and lots of food. We'll be opening in three days. But...you wanna hang out with us over a beer now?"

"...huh. Sure, okay."

So I hung out with them for the next 90 minutes while they told me about the place, and whenever we saw someone walking by see us and do a take and stop, we'd wave them inside to join us. We ended up having a little spontaneous pre-opening party of seven people there that night.


* Story Two: sometime in about 2011 or so, I'd gotten home from work after a cranky-making day. I decided I would look at goofy Facebook posts from friends, and after about 5 minutes came upon a post from my most recent ex - a one-that-got-away ex whom I was largely "over" but still it was a tiny bit of a sore spot. And in that post he announced that he had just returned from the courthouse with his current SO - because they had just been married. Gah.

I closed the laptop, got my coat, and head to BBitW. I slid into one of the only two open spots at the bar, and when the bartender asked me what I wanted, I told her about my ex. "So what drink would you recommend for someone in my position?" I asked.

"Okay, you need bourbon," she announced and mixed me a Manhattan. As she handed it to me, another guy took the only remaining empty seat next to me. We struck up a casual conversation, each of us enjoying ourselves enough to order a second round (I downshifted to cranberry and vodka), and by the time we each finished our second drinks I was feeling better; the dude and I didn't trade numbers, but it had still been fun, and that was enough. We flagged over the bartender to each settle up.

"So here's what I'm thinking," she said, and pointed to me. "After what you told me, you should not have to pay for booze today. So - your first drink is on the house. As for the second," she turned to the guy, "can I put her second drink on your tab? Excellent. Girl, you're all set."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2018 [13 favorites]


The place that comes closest to that is my branch of the library. I recognize regular staff and they recognize me. I once saw one of them filling in at the downtown branch, and was all, "hey, what are you doing here?" and they stopped to chat a bit and tell me how exciting it was that my daughter was in a recent library publication, that the whole branch had gathered around to read the part she was in, proud that it was one of their regulars who made it in. I've been taking her at least once a week (usually on the same day each week) since we moved here ten years ago.

At my branch, there was one time I came in looking for my daughter's school library book I thought we might've managed to return there. They brought out a short stack of books that belonged to my daughter's school, but not hers. So I thanked them for looking, but then thought through the usual library process of returning books (several months, at least) and offered to take them back myself. Normally that's not something they do or I would ask, even, but it was inventory time. The clerk went to go ask someone higher up if that was okay, who came out, took one look at me, and said, "Oh yeah, that's fine."
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I generally feel awkward about being recognized - I like to remain anonymous when buying things. But I am also a creature of habit, so, eventually I've become a regular at a few different places.

- A tiny, hole-in-the-wall sushi place by my old work. I would go about once / week, they didn't even need to bring me a menu. Cheap, amazingly delicious food. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I got a new job, and that my last time would be my last time :( . I really should go back for dinner, it's not that far away.

- A coffee shop near my house. I have been going there before work because this summer I've become addicted to iced lattes. They also have really delicious baked goods. There is a dog, Bella, that goes and sits outside some mornings who is precious. (She is accompanied by people, but I don't know their names, eep). The workers there recognize me, but haven't caught on that I order the same thing every time (Large iced latte, extra shot, skim milk. and a donut)

- Plank Road Tap Room - I've been going here pretty much since they opened. Mr Fig and I are members of their "secret society", so we have our own glasses and get advanced tickets to their events and other goodies. We are recognized and always greeted warmly. It's a super friendly place, a tiny log cabin on the far edge of town with amazing beers on tap. We actually just went to a beer and bacon pairing there this weekend, which was really good.


I'm not sure if this counts, but the yoga class I go to is super tiny, and we are all very friendly - max 4 people. It's always a blast, and if you don't show up for a few weeks, there is much joy when you return.
posted by Fig at 8:45 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Me too, Margalo! I was just at the library yesterday, and one of the librarians, made a point of saying that it's been a long time, and asking if I was okay. It had been maybe two weeks since I've seen her. (To be fair, I'm usually in and out of that library branch two to three times a week, so.)
posted by platitudipus at 8:53 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Most of thirty years ago, I would go out for breakfast every Saturday with my older brothers and their roommates/friends and sometimes my sister (who worked me and some of the gang at a local pizza place), and assorted other friends and SOs and hangers-on. We went to the Day By Day Cafe near downtown St. Paul, which AIUI was staffed entirely by people getting sober.

Back then it filled several connected rooms/storefronts, and was stuffed with mismatched furniture and tableware. (There was a front room with tables and maybe booths, but we only used that to wait for our friends.) We always wanted the giant, Camelot-sized round table in the way back room. We would stand next to our table until the current customers left, then make a fresh pot of coffee at the waitress station and settle in.

The staff turned over enough that they didn't know our names or orders, but they sure recognized the flying wedge -- with my tall brother at the front -- coming through the door on Saturday around 10:00 or 11:00. :7)

(Looking at Google, they seem to have classed up the joint some time ago. I haven't been there in twenty-some years; I wonder whether my stomach could handle the coffee these days...)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:05 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


If I can include the library, like Margalo, then that's totally my family's place!

A few years back the library director said in the local paper that my family were their best customers (having checked our records and seen that we'd withdrawn 10,000+ items since we moved to town), and I'm on the board there now. God damn I love that place.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


My trapeze school. Probably doesn't hurt that I go there four times a week (okay sometimes five) to bounce and fly. Everyone knows each other, and a lot of people know each other at other schools as well. It's a small world.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:48 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's a burrito place across the street from where I lived in college, and we ate there a lot because it was a) delicious and b) across the street. The owner was super friendly with us (probably because we got lunch there roughly three times a week) and he would always invite us to his birthday party on Facebook for some reason.

Fast forward a few years: I'm working in the same city, and the burrito place also operates a van which tours various office sites during the week. I go out with my coworkers to get lunch from the van one day, and the owner happens to be working on the van that afternoon. I was halfway down the line and he leaned out, yelled out to me by name and said hi. My coworkers (who all love the food there as well) were so impressed that I knew the burrito van guy. I felt like the queen of the line.
posted by terretu at 9:50 AM on September 20, 2018 [7 favorites]



Generally I stand out. Not on purpose - I couldn't do it if I tried - but just by being me, I suppose.

For a long time, I was quite surprised to be so enthusiastically welcomed at my local volunteer-member-run gleaner's co-op, where everybody knows my name. Turns out the reason is because I'm used to bike collectives, which skew heavily male, and this place skews heavily toward being run by friendly hypercompetent older women.

Anyone who has ever seen me on a bike, which is apparently everyone in my neighborhood. The recumbent does it. The the bright red flevotrike does it. The recumbent tandem really does it. For a while my partner had a velomobile. I'd be riding along on my standard everyday recumbent, and nobody would notice me!
posted by aniola at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


The first time I remember having this place was the Vietnamese restaurant my family goes to in Charlotte. The hostess once picked up my toddler brother and brought him into the kitchen so everyone could see how cute he was, then brought us all cookies. That brother is now 20.

I went there for every birthday, after high school graduation, and I still visit every time I'm back in town. They have all our drinks and appetizers ready when they see us pull into the parking lot. Somewhere along the way we got upgraded from one free cookie per person to an entire jar of cookies delivered with the bill.

At home in Chicago now I'm lucky enough to have a handful of these places: the bike shop where the owner always wants to give me a "cool deal," the beer bar that once gave me a pile of towels and a free t-shirt to dry out after biking there in a rainstorm, the cocktail bar where I learned to mix drinks. And most especially: Lula Cafe, my favorite restaurant in the city, which catered my wedding. I can't even pick out an example of how lovely they are there, but it always makes me feel like I'm home.
posted by torridly at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just here, to be honest. And even then, I don't think people necessarily know my name, but I feel like I know other posters by theirs. This definitely feels like a home to me.
posted by Ziggy500 at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


I've been going to the same Panera, every Sunday, for almost two decades.
I've written hundreds of blog posts, 4 non fiction books, and 2 novels there, working on a third.
AND THEY STILL HAVE NOT GIVEN ME A COFFEE MUG WITH MY NAME ON IT.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:07 AM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Everyone knows my name at the local deli. It is open 24/7/365. Been there for morning lightly buttered roll and iced coffee as well as for the #Hashtag sammy at 2:00am on a Tuesday. Been going for 20 years. They even named a coffee after me. Hot black poured over ice. I like my coffee luke warm. I could probably say, "The usual" and get the Augie coffee and a lightly buttered roll.

Plus, all small children and animals love me.
posted by AugustWest at 11:22 AM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ziggy5000: Just here, to be honest. And even then, I don't think people necessarily know my name....

ZIGGY!!!!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:30 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've only ever earned two genuine nicknames in my life. Sadly, both are liquor-related. The waitstaff at the local chain bar (they have around 20 locations in cities throughout the industrial midwest, though ours is in a century old train station and very cool) started referring to me as "dirty" because of my Martini order. But, the staff turns over fast and my spouse is out of town a lot these days, so I doubt my next visit will include a nickname.

My barber knows my name, though he calls me by my profession in an old-timey, affectionate way. I was saddened to learn that he sometimes commutes 40 minutes into town on a Saturday when I'm the only customer. But, I'm glad to know him.

That's about it. But, that's fine. Part of the reason I love cities is that they offer anonymity. I love not having to pretend to care about my neighbors, much less the people I pass on the street. That chain smokers, OCD lamppost-petters, immigration lawyers, and wild looking leathermen all share the sidewalk without hesitation or notice is fantastic. I agree not to notice that you're sneaking your dog into the passenger elevator if you agree to ignore my bed-head when throwing in last minute laundry into the machines before heading for the airport.
posted by eotvos at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2018


Oh wow. I didn't really think about it until I just read about eotvos but my hair salon! I've been going there steadily for nine years. I am well loved there. I know the front desk staff, the people who wash hair, etc. and I remember to tip everyone who touches my head, so they treat me super well and greet me by name. Yay, that's nice.
posted by wellred at 1:16 PM on September 20, 2018


I dance with the same people pretty much every Friday evening. I have visited International folk Dance groups all over the US. If I visit a folk dance group wearing a tshirt from a workshop or festival, I will be treated as a friend and this has been awesome when I was on a lengthy road trip and feeling adrift. I love Eastern European music & dance and it's excellent exercise.

I got invited to a group of women who used to meet once a week after work at a working class bar and that was pretty awesome, but the organizer moved, someone demanded to be the organizer and promptly did nothing, so we meet occasionally but it's not the same. new organizer likes to go to trendy bars and, meh.

I'd like to have a bar I could go to and have a hassle-free beer maybe once a week, but there isn't one near me. I suppose I could start looking for such a place, take a book, and see what transpires. I'm generally an extrovert, but have had illness and depression for too long and it's hard to be social when you feel like under the covers would be the best option. I like where I live, but its the kind of town that rolls up the sidewalks at 9 pm, and I don't want to become a morning person. For whatever reasons, I have had a bit more energy lately, and am not depressed, so I can talk about it without feeling like Saddy McSadSack McWhineyFace.
posted by theora55 at 1:23 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Tons of people at my daughter's elementary school know me, but my name is Daughter'sName's Dad.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:25 PM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


My home away from home is our local hackerspace. It's where we go to chill, socialize and make or break stuff twice a week. It's usually pleasant, sometimes great fun and occasionally annoying. A bit like family really.

Last Tuesday I was trying to take the components off of a circuit board from an old, broken sound mixer. But it didn't go well because it was soldered with some kind of high-temperature solder, so I couldn't heat it up enough without the board itself delaminating and warping which ruined it for the decorative purposes I wanted it for. I ended up discarding the board and then using the case to make a heat proof stand for a clothes iron.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:27 PM on September 20, 2018


Several kebab joints and bike shops.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:51 PM on September 20, 2018


Everyone at our archery range knows me as so-and-so's mom, for both my kids. I shoot there as much as my kids do and have been going there longer, but I guess my own name isn't memorable (narrator: it isn't). I don't mind and will answer to Kid's Name's Mom without correcting anyone -- I think it's amusing, not a suppression of my identity.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2018


Oh, and there are a whole lot of Girl Scout leaders in the area who know me by my camp name and only by my camp name. The other day I walked into a church and shouted "King John!" at a woman, because that's the only name I know her by and I was surprised to see her.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I started three times to write an answer *sigh*. I still can't wrap my mind around that nobody here apart from the car repair dude seems to know me at all, and I've lived in this place (in godforsaken rural West Sweden) since 1991. Car dude, of course, gets lotsa money from me all the time, so...

Give me any conference only vaguely related to my field and people whom I've never seen seem to never not have known me, which is also weird...
posted by Namlit at 2:07 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


For me, it's the bar where we go to trivia. We go there at least once a fortnight, more often once a week. It was 5 minutes away from the airbnb we stayed in for our first few months in Toronto, but now its a 25 minute walk (15 mins if I'm lazy and catch the bus). We found our current apartment through one of the employees the second time we visited and got free beer glasses the first time we went (we'd asked if we could buy some, but they gave them to us for free). Now we get hugs when we leave the bar.

The place that remembered me the longest was a bakery across the road from the branch I worked at in Sydney. They sold hot cross buns year round, so I would order one of those with a hot chocolate most days and they would start getting it ready as soon as they saw me. I moved jobs and didn't go back for a year a half. When I got another job nearby, they had moved location slightly up the road, but when I walked in they said "hot cross bun, hot chocolate?".
posted by Kris10_b at 2:48 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


The post office! In fact, they know me by number too!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:40 PM on September 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


For some years, it was the staff at the climbing gym, and the waitresses at the sports bar we always went to on Fridays after the climbing gym. Oh, and the local bookstore around the corner, they knew me and my dog well.

Now I think it's just the ladies at the little produce shop around the corner, since my climbing gym is way too busy, and the sports bar and bookstore closed.
posted by suelac at 4:19 PM on September 20, 2018


Depends if the sodium lamps are on.
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on September 20, 2018


First, thanks Fizz for this awesome meta! I had a super slow day at work today, so I was practically able to keep up with the mega thread in real time and make it halfway through this in the last three hours of the day. When I got home, I was ~20 comments shy in the mega, and it just became too much. It was nice to get back in here and get back to happy thoughts.

For working in a town of 50,000, it's surprising to others how many places I get that "Cheers" experience. A lot of factors play into that, though:

1. It's a tourist town.
2. For over a decade, I was a bartender at a restaurant for this tourist town.

I started that particular bar gig during the off-season for tourists. The restaurant was reasonably priced, within a couple miles of the two largest employers for the county and smack in the middle of downtown. So, we had quite a few lunch regulars that came for those reasons and then started coming even more when I would take care of them for lunch. (Not bragging. Many of them have told me this.)

Usually that group would avoid us during season because we would just be too busy with tourists to give good service or to get them in and out for their hour lunch break. They saw I could do it, so they kept coming in the summers and told their friends and their friends told their friends, etc.

So, I met a very large amount of people that worked on the island.

We still had our slow times and sometimes I would get sent home early. (Esp. if it was rainy.) My days off were often during the week because working in a restaurant means lots of weekends. I also have a lot of introvert moments. This all leads to visiting other bars after work/on off days and meeting yet more of the locals. Basically, if I got off early and sometimes on days off, I would hit a bar before going home, so I could just sit and read for a while and recharge my emotional batteries before going home to the family. Yeah, I would talk to all the regulars at those bars when I was off the clock, but they all let me have a minute to catch my breath first.

The place that surprises me that the people know me is a restaurant near a work-site that I have only had to work at three times (a month each time) in the last two years. Two of the three that served me saw me walk in for lunch this last time and had my water and menu in front of me before I even sat down. I was so impressed with how well one of them remembered me, I bought her newborn twins personalized books from Wonderbly to brighten her kid's sleepy time. (She also had to deal with my grumpiest customer on the regular, despite our restaurants being 60 miles and a county apart. We bonded.)

For all y'all who have been touched in here that a stranger knows you/recognizes you/etc. : I can't speak for everyone (duh), but there are many of us that are/were in the service industry who.... you brighten our day as much as we brighten yours.

Mwah!
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:11 PM on September 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


For me? This is work. I've only been there for 7 weeks but I've already met so many people and because the town I live in is so small, it's nigh impossible to go to the shops without seeing someone I know. After being completely socially isolated for the past 2.5 years (and semi-isolated for years before that) it's such a joy to walk through my workplace and get a bunch of friendly hellos and THEN go to the store after work and get even MORE friendly hellos. It also helps that a more than a few people there know extended members of my family (through my stepdad) and that everyone else knows each other as well. While I know that living/working in a small town can be challenging, for right now I am loving it. I love feeling like I'm a part of something and I missed that like crazy when I was out sick.

Now I need to find a outside-of-work place where I can develop that same sort of relationship. Eventually...baby steps!
posted by elsietheeel at 5:56 PM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's no place everybody knows my name. I keep to myself and if my fingers aren't holding a pen or a book, it's because I'm reaching for my a cocktail -- so, lots of places where all the bartenders know my name and what to serve me and in which glass.

There are a few places I feel most comfortable--and I couldn't mean that more literally. Sitting at the bar at these places brings me more calm than being anywhere else, including my home:

Musso & Frank, Los Angeles (Tanqueray Gibson)
Enoteca Sociale, Toronto (dry Martini in a coupe, no garnish; occasionally a Hornet's Nest or a Top Deck, depending who's working)
Ca Fran, Oliva, Spain (Atxa White, rocks)
Cocktail Bar, Toronto (Racquet Club, Penitent, Hornet's Nest, in that order)
Salt's Cure, Los Angeles (Tanqueray Martini, twist)
The bar at the Fairmont, Miramar, Santa Monica, if Arthur is working (Tanqueray Martini, twist)
Chez Jay, Santa Monica (Ruthless Permanent)

There are two bars (one in Toronto and one in Barcelona) that keep Tanqueray in stock only for me, and one bar in Oliva, Spain, that has one coupe and the ingredients for gin martinis, which only come out when I'm there.

I used to think I was probably a pain in the ass when it came to ordering drinks (and many people I dine with have said just that ("What kind of gin do you have? ... Oh. What kind of tequila? Oh, um, I'll just have water, thanks.")), but the bartenders at these places hide any contempt really well, and always seem thrilled to see me, and always remember my names/drinks, even if there's years in between visits.

Dog bless bars without televisions.
posted by dobbs at 6:47 PM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


There are bars without televisions?
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've had a few of these, and been on the other side of them- I've been the bartender or waiter or manager that made it comfy. It is a bond of trust- good regulars spend and add a certain character to a place, but they must not misbehave.

At one of my afterwork bars I invented a drink we came to call the chemistry set. I was a Dewar's drinker, so instead of Dewar's and water I'd get a shot, a Dewar's rocks, and a glass of ice water. That would keep me busy for almost an hour.
posted by vrakatar at 7:42 PM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This post made me sad - because I immediately thought of a favourite pub that closed a few years back - but then, last night, the blokes at the supermarket let me help myself to the usually-locked spirits cabinet, and I knew I had arrived.
posted by pompomtom at 7:49 PM on September 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


The nearest bar to my house (so, my "regular," not that I am the most regular of customers) hires bartenders with amazing memories. They will remember people's names after just one visit, and it is obvious how much people enjoy being recognized. It's a big part of what makes going there pleasant.

Unfortunately, somehow they all learned my name slightly wrong (sort of like revising "Peter" to "Pat") and because it was always crowded and seemed like too much trouble to correct early on, at this point there is no way to say anything without it feeling awkward, so I just enjoy being greeted by name even if the name isn't quite my own.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:34 PM on September 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


The nearest bar to my house (so, my "regular," not that I am the most regular of customers) hires bartenders with amazing memories. They will remember people's names after just one visit, and it is obvious how much people enjoy being recognized. It's a big part of what makes going there pleasant.

Yeah, I've been doing this since starting as a bartender. It's really nice to see people light up when you greet them by name. Asking people what the best thing that happened to them that day is also a great way to see people light up. A sneaky trick I use is that I will read names off credit cards and match them to faces. And with regulars who always get the same kind or style of beer, we'll usually have their drink poured by the time they make it to the actual bar.

Remembering names at the bar has also had a slight perk of really impressing one of the professors I have this semester. I remembered seeing her in the bar and briefly chatting with her, so I was able to greet her by name on the first day of class even she had NO memory of meeting me.

On the flip side, when I went into the university's financial aid office to cancel student loans I didn't turn out to need, the person working there recognized me from the bar even though I couldn't remember her...

---
I don't really have a place that recognizes me like this though. In college, I ate a lot at a little restaurant right down the road to the point where the owner would deliver the chicken and rice soup I'd order by the gallon when I was sick to make sure I was still doing OK. I had a chicken lady and a meat guy in the wet market when I lived in Hong Kong who knew exactly what I wanted, even if we didn't know each other's names and couldn't really communicate much beyond meat. My doorman in Hong Kong never knew my name, but he referred to me as the "big tall woman on the 19th floor" constantly.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:30 PM on September 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is it weird that the first place that came to my mind is a stretch of downtown where most of the unhoused people know me? I used to do homeless outreach as part of my paid job, and I still volunteer in a variety of settings where homeless people gather. Now I know a lot of people’s panhandling corners, and some folks will find me around and say “hey, I know you from [shelter, clinic, etc].” I once did an impromptu Narcan training for a guy who hit me up for money outside a 7-11, and then checked in on him once or twice afterward. He just saw me a few days ago and said “hey, where’ve you been, you don’t come around anymore.” (Wish I could, he’s great, I just work in a different neighborhood for now).

I also joined the staff-know-me-by-name club at my favorite falafel place as of today! A milestone!
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 9:56 PM on September 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, people seem to remember me much better than I would expect. I mean I'm a creature of habit, visiting the same places regularly and always try to be observant and friendly to those working since I've worked the same kinds of jobs so I don't see them as just there to serve, but I'm also pretty private about my personal or home life and never initiate small talk. Yet, people seem to warm to me readily, letting me into the "behind the scenes" info on their work or just shooting the breeze about whatever interests them in the moment. I try to know a little about a lot of things and I'm generally an attentive listener and can go with whatever enthusiasms people have, but the frequency of getting singled out for attention is still a bit weird.

Because of all that, there are too many places to name that "know me" and my schedule or orders, half of the city bus drivers, a number of different coffeeshops and restaurants, my videostore, and the cab company even has called my work when I didn't set up my usual call for a pick up to make sure I was all right.

But a few years ago there was a place that went way beyond that, to having so much of what is considered the Cheers atmosphere that it's hard to even describe. It was a coffeeshop I went to regularly for years, and by regularly I mean every day for hours on end. It was located in the most liberal and arty part of an already liberal and arty city and was frequented by college students, artist types, and locals who mostly didn't have close family nearby, so the regulars developed a quasi-familial relationship as a replacement of sorts. Everyone talked to everyone and knew their interests. Group conversations would be carried on with people joining and leaving whenever they felt the need or interest and then different people would come in and new conversational groups would form while others would do homework, read, or work. People would check in before going off for the day, then come back at the end to see what they'd missed or to report on what they did. There was rarely a time where there weren't at least several people who knew each other through the coffeeshop around, and even the people who worked there would hang out in their off hours. (It didn't hurt that the coffeeshop's location was ideal for both sitting and people watching and for the ease of swinging by on the way to somewhere else.)

The conversations varied, but were usually interesting on their own because the things the people were doing were interesting, writers, painters, musicians, people studying law and economics, cooks, and assorted ne'er-do-wells who lived adventurous and sometimes foolish lives. The people were generally smart and at a point of their lives where the future was something still just opening up to them, not yet settled. New people would come to the coffeeshop, and within a visit or two would join in to the larger group conversations on their own initiative through simply eavesdropping and seeing the dynamic of the place.

I was the regularist of the regulars, and as such was expected to be there whenever people came by or whenever someone wanted to find me since I didn't have a phone or internet at home. It also meant that I ended up being something like a centering point for many of the various regulars as I was so recognizable and liked conversing about so many things but didn't invade their space when they wanted it since there wasn't any sense of urgency about anything as it was expected conversation could happen later if someone wanted it and they were busy with other things in the moment.

Oddly enough, because of the looseness of engagement, it was also a really productive place for accomplishing personal goals. I was able to read and write more there than anyplace else I've been since I could be at ease and not feel like I was missing out on something or get antsy being by myself. It was a really special place and time in my life, but, as with most things, couldn't last as we all do have to move on sometime.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:03 AM on September 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


The thing is, I‘m a total grumpybutt in the mornings. I‘m antisocial and tired and ready to crawl back into bed once I‘ve walked the kids to kindergarten and school. Except then I have another eight hours of paid work to do.

So everymorning before work I fall through the doorway of my café and grunt my order while I collapse in the seat.

And it‘s a really weird place. The café chain was founded in the 70s and it has kept its ill-conceived colour scheme because when they tried to change it into something less atrocious the locals rebelled against the change.

The coffee is fine, nothing special, on the cheap side. The pastry is fine. The waitresses are uniformly kind of weird themselves. They all scowl. Some of then don‘t talk at all, some of them give their opinions unasked on random things you do...some are just random.

But I love this place! I feel like I don‘t have to put on my happy customer face! When I walk in, they know what I like. sometimes the blackhaired waitress says „Have a ham pasty! I wasn‘t going to make one today but then I thought of you!“ And once she even grumbled humorously, „that‘s the last time I‘m making you one of those!“
And one time I changed my shoes there and she saw me and actually pointed and cackled.
I just say the same few things every time and give the same generous tip.

Anyway, I‘m going to miss this place when we move. I always go in a mess and walk out as a person with fancy shoes on.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:29 AM on September 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


This goes back to the last time I lived in the neighborhood I just moved back to this spring, but previously, our local Chinese Buffet restaurant got a lot of our business. We slowly began to realize that we might be going there too much when we made the following observations:

We walked in one time and the hostess greeted us not with their usual question "How many in your party?" but an observation about my significant other "Oh, your hair is blue this week, last week it was purple."

Another time after being seated, we were brought our drinks without ever being asked for a drink order, and didn't even realize it at first until someone piped up "Wait, we never actually told them we wanted root beer." But root beer was what we all wanted (we rarely ever ordered it, like maybe once every 5 visits or so, but we were in a mood for it that day), and somehow they just knew.

In the back corner of the buffet, they have a grill chef who can prepare orders of steak or stir fry, and I'd always get something from him. After a while I wasn't given a chance to pick out which piece of beef I wanted him to grill up. He'd see me coming and pull a cut out from a refrigerator below the back of his corner of the buffet. Always filet mignon too, which wasn't supposed to even be available during the lunch buffet, and when it was put out for dinner, was sliced into much smaller portions than what they were picking out for me. Eventually, they even started bringing the steak out to me at the table without me even having to go up and let them know I wanted it, even though customers were normally expected to pick up their food at the grill station when it was ready.

They had an in restaurant PA system that they would play music over. One day, when we were paying our bill, we commented about liking one of the songs that they had played, and wondered what the title of it was, so we could go find it to buy for ourselves. They pulled the CD out of the player and popped in a different one, then handed the one that had been playing to us and told us to just go ahead and make a copy of it for ourselves, and bring it back their disc next time we were there.

But the one that finally clinched it for us that our household was among their favorite set of regulars was the fact that we went in one day, and they wanted to know what I was doing there with my significant other and our housemate, and not at work. At the time I was on a 28 day rotating shift where I only worked 14 days out of every 28, but in any given week the schedule could have me working anywhere from six 13 hour shifts to having the whole week off. There was a pattern to it, but it's very hard to keep straight without a calendar, even for me and I was working it. And they were absolutely right, that would have been a day I should have been at work, but work had just moved me to one of the other 3 shifts that share that 28 day rotation, and it was now a day off for me. Somehow the staff at the buffet had worked out what my complex schedule had been, just by observing what days the three of us were there, and what days it was just the other two.

Since we've moved back to that neighborhood, we haven't been there enough to get back to that status, but I imagine it's only a matter of time.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:19 AM on September 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


There are two bars in Denver within walking distance of my place (important!) and I would consider the majority of the staff at both places friends. I have been to their houses and they've been to mine. We watch each other's pets when we go out of town. One bartender recently became a citizen and while I couldn't make it to his swearing-in my fiancée went and it was surprisingly emotional.

The South Broadway neighborhood is probably my favorite place I've ever lived.
posted by East14thTaco at 7:46 AM on September 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I want to be a regular but I'm bad at it and my neighborhood is bad at creating the conditions for it. I do have one cheesemonger who knows my name, and one bus driver. Shoutout to Lamont, the nicest driver in the entire Metro Transit system.
posted by clavicle at 8:52 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


For awhile, I went for breakfast every weekend with two friends, and a third joined us when she moved back to the city. We always went to De Dutch Pannekoek House and usually all ordered the same thing. First the manager introduced herself, and then we made it a point to introduce ourselves to all the wait staff. Even though we only go once every six weeks or so now, they still remember us and various staff will stop by our table to chat.
posted by twilightlost at 9:05 AM on September 21, 2018


I'm a regular customer of a local taxi company. The fleet is about 400 cars but I seem to be getting the same ten drivers regularly. When I get in, I don't have to say where I'm going. We just talk about what's new. One I talk to about fishing, another one about politics, another tells me about his grandkids. A few times when I forgot my wallet they told me to not worry about it and I paid next time. It helps that I give good tips 😉
posted by M. at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2018


It helps that I give good tips

I'm pretty sure that's also a contributor in my Chinese Buffet story a few posts up.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2018


Definitely giving money consistently and generously is usually the cornerstone of being the recipient of the Norm! effect. And that's just fine as long as you (hypothetical you) don't lean into it any.

(though Norm never paid so he must've known something dirty.)
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2018


I used to be a regular at an excellent vegan Chinese restaurant -- the quondam Teapot on 15th, Seattlites -- and it was near several venues so I often went with a trial date, when I was dating. And the restaurant worked this out and was tactful but clear in their opinions. I took my dad once and they were clearly kind of horrified until I introduced him.

They approved of my best friend and also of my now-husband, so, checks out.
posted by clew at 2:51 PM on September 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thursday I was listening to a comedian on YouTube. One of the comments he made was there is a big difference between the workers at a diner knowing your name, and the people at McDonald's knowing your name. Truly sad though, were the people at Arby's knowing you... and knowing they had to put on another batch of curly fries...
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:17 PM on September 21, 2018


The local bakery. Whose staff not only recognize, chat with and give treats to my child, but are also relaxed about it and not judging me when the child is lying on the floor sobbing because the Laugenstangerl are the wrong shape.
posted by frimble (staff) at 10:54 PM on September 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


because the Laugenstangerl are the wrong shape.

What is the right shape?
posted by Fizz at 5:56 AM on September 22, 2018


Restaurant Japón, Santiago's oldest Sushi place, and of the few that don't go overboard on cream cheese and similar crap. My lovely wife works 2 blocks from there and we try to go for lunch at least once a week. All the waiters know us, I walk in and they tell me if she's arrived, where she's sitting, etc. I'm don Signal there, and most waiters know our usual (her: Hosomaki Tuna, me Chirashi Donburi in warm weather, Nabeyaki Udon in the cold), we get complimentary miso soup and some sort of appetizer thrown in as well.
posted by signal at 3:45 PM on September 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ah, I forgot about, obviously, Animal Crossing - a game/life I've spent more time in this century so far than any other. There's an article about it in Polygon which details pretty well, better than I can, on why it's a (digital) place that, in several ways, feels like home:

"There is no way to win in Animal Crossing, but that also means there’s no way to lose. Life in your village goes on without you, but it always welcomes you back ... The most valuable currency in Animal Crossing is time. An hour in the game is the same as an hour outside of it, so the game marches to the beat of your own life. At the same time, there is no real way to grind out progress in these titles, because they’re about patience; in fact, they seem to actively punish players who try to rush.

You cannot make a tree grow faster, but you’re liable to destroy your flower gardens or wear grass down into dirt paths by running through your town instead of walking.

You can have all the bells in the world, but you’re limited by the rotating daily stock at each of of the shops. You can catch bugs, go fishing and dig for fossils for hours each day, but you’ll still have to live through four real-world seasons to see them all. The game has its own pace, and you have to give into it if you want to get everything it has to offer. Few games are as capable of slowing us down, a trait that is sorely needed when everything else seems to be speeding up.

All of this - the emphasis on patience, the freeform approach to player agency, the overwhelming sense of forgiveness and kindness that stretches from the game’s systems to its text - combines to make a game that is, above all else, nice. And this commitment to niceness makes it an oasis of positivity in an increasingly reactionary and fragmented media landscape."
posted by Wordshore at 4:48 PM on September 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I had a place like this in my uni days, best pub in the world feat Favourite Bartender in the World, and i went there between and after classes. Sticky floors, sticky tables, bathrooms full of graffiti and locks barely hanging on, whole place half empty except when full of tradies at lunchtime and every single uni pubcrawl starting there in the evening.

FBitW knew my order and started drawing my beer and wedges as soon as he saw me. Until the place sold I could walk in anytime and the staff would draw me a beer on sight, and even after I quit uni I went there to hang out and read and while away some hours. It was not at all fancy but it was my pub.

New owners, new reno, new staff. They've gone so upscale they don't have wedges on the menu anymore. Not my pub now. Sadly I've cut way back on the drinking, so who knows if I'll find another?
posted by E. Whitehall at 7:26 PM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


What is the right shape?

Stange! It says so right in the name. But sometimes they're Laugenfußbällchen and not Laugenstangerl, and sometimes that's the WORST.

Lauge : Lye
Laugengebäck : Baked goods treated with lye.
Laugenstange : (Lye + Stick) Breadstick treated with lye.
Laugenfußball : (Lye + Football) Breadroll treated with lye.
posted by frimble (staff) at 2:18 AM on September 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


« Older Metafilter affiliate linking plug in?   |   What's the Deal with Comments "Metafilter:... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments