You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Today’s jumping off point is the theme song from the long-running sitcom Cheers. The image conjured by the song and the series is of creating a home-away-from-home for yourself through the habit of repeatedly visiting the same establishment and getting to know the other regulars, even though you and they may may have started out having nothing in common.

The Cheers scenario was brought to mind when we went with our choir friends after rehearsal last night for our weekly outing to the local Irish-themed pub that has been our hangout for at least a couple of years now. Almost before I could sit down, our regular waitress Kayla (cultivated by our habit of leaving 25-30% tips) brought me a small sample of a new draft beer to see if I’d like to make that my choice for the evening. Kayla knows most of our preferences (one pinot grigio; one manhattan (Maker’s Mark) with a side of ice and extra cherries; two glasses of cabernet and a vegan-friendly pizza to split; et cetera) and she knows I’m adventurous enough to try a new draft beer if they happen to have one.

As a result, over the last few weeks I’ve been introduced to the Captain’s Daughter double IPA from Grey Sail Brewing of Westerly, RI and last night’s selection of Dogfish Head Beer for Breakfast. The Captain’s Daughter was nice, but the Beer for Breakfast was especially memorable. (And wow, does that sentence read badly if you don’t have the context of the preceding sentence–I’m really just a mild-mannered scientist, I swear!) img_0898For this imperial stout, the off-centered ingredients (their words, not my opinion) that Dogfish Head used include universal breakfast staples such as maple syrup and coffee, as well as mid-Atlantic breakfast favorite scrapple (as befits their Delaware home). I’m not sure I could pick out all those ingredients, but the beer was highly aromatic, had a lovely dark color and luscious mouth feel, with lots of sweetness up front to appeal to practically all of the senses. Went down nicely with chicken tenders and a side of sweet potato fries.

Of course, our frequent visits mean that Kayla knows more than just our food and beverage preferences, and we know a few things about her as well. Our friendship isn’t at the level of the regulars at Cheers yet, but it’s interesting to me since I don’t look for this kind of relationship as naturally as some people do. It isn’t something I remember my parents practicing or teaching me as I was growing up, so it’s still a little surprising to me when places where I’m a loyal customer remember me and treat our interaction as something more than just a business transaction.

I am obviously a slow learner, though, since the choir group has been through more than half a dozen different establishments over the nearly 25 years since I moved here and joined the choir. Some of the changes were due to lifestyle changes (increased financial stability; new dietary choices), some to simple preference (not wanting to deal with noisy college students and waiting for a table), and a couple because we outlasted the ownership (twice in the same physical space, even though we were trying hard to do our part to keep them in business). I clearly need to be more attentive to building this kind of a relationship, especially since, as the song says, “Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got…” Enjoy some nostalgia and stream an episode tonight, or better yet, pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood watering hole and get to know the regulars. Cheers!

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