What is it about walking into a bar or restaurant where they know your name? Am I dating myself, by referring to the old refrain from Cheers? Perhaps. But now that I’m older, I do think it captures something.
Our grandparents, and even parents, grew up in tight communities. Family and friends were close by – next door, or two doors down. I bet the word “community” wasn’t even used. Maybe you don’t have to refer to something that you just take for granted; it’s like wallpaper – there but hardly noticed.
But today we belong to many communities. We belong to a work community, maybe even more than one. An “old friend” community. Maybe a community based in a house of worship. Or one based on a hobby or interest. And even, one based in a bar or restaurant. The kind of place where when you walk in, they recognize you, greet you by name, and get your drink ready.
Why is this so nice?
We’re fortunate to have found this at a couple of restaurants in Bucks County. Since moving to Wycombe, the Pineville Tavern has become our neighborhood hang-out. Mark and I happen to enjoy eating at the bar – or counter in the case of diners – and look for places where this is comfortable to do. The Pineville, or PVT, definitely fits the bill.
There are regulars at the PVT bar. I once heard one of them chastise the bartender for allowing cheddar cheese to arrive on his cheeseburger. “How long have I been coming here?” he demanded. “I always get American cheese!” Returned the bartender, pointing to the customer’s friend: “You said you wanted the same as him.” When his pal – and everyone else at the bar – confirmed this, the customer settled down. (The bartender did get him American cheese, though.) It was just part of the give-and-take you find between staff and regulars that everyone actually enjoys.
The Pineville has a casual menu that runs from burgers to ribs, salads and pasta. The specials bring in a bit more variety. There’s always a fish entree, homemade pasta and a steak dish. The prices range as well, so if you “just want a burger” you don’t have to spend a mint.
Another of our favorite places is the Cross Keys Diner, which recently reopened after a five month hiatus. Here, too, we usually settle in at the counter, where we can read the paper, chat with the wait staff as they run back and forth, and generally enjoy the hubbub.
Like the folks at the Pineville, the Cross Keys staff knows and loves its regulars. The new owners, Scott Edwards and Paul Markert, say their goal is to have customers feel “we’re home again” when they come back. They’ve worked hard to keep everything as it was, going so far as to reprint the previous owners’ menus and keep the same food vendors. Since Paul worked the line under the previous owners, quality and style won’t change either.
I used to think this kind of community – built around a bar or restaurant – was kind of sad. Like, “What? You don’t got no real friends?” Maybe this is because when I was growing up we didn’t go out to eat much, let alone drink, and our community was more circumscribed. But it’s different today. For those of us fortunate enough to be middle-class, we eat out more, for one thing. But today our greater community is a composite of many smaller communities. Perhaps these smaller communities combined are greater than the sum of their parts.
So when you are lucky enough to find that bar or restaurant where they want to know your name (not just your credit card), enjoy it, give it your patronage and help form another community.
Do you have a favorite place, where they know your name? Leave us a comment and we’ll check it out.