Jump to content

Being a "Regular"


Recommended Posts

I just miss my college bar. small college, small town and only 1 bar, so no matter what time of day or night I knew at least 50% of the patrons and the bartenders were classmates. you don't get that in New York. always free drinks and they never carded.

 

went back for a visit recently and for the first time ever I was carded at that bar. I had had a mishap where my wallet got soaking wet and I just grabbed a couple of damp bills and left the rest behind to dry. I must have given the poor guy such a "you must be kidding me" look that he wouldn't take money for the coke I ordered instead, nor would he take any money for the beer I bought the next night.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 49
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Irish bars seem to be the most consistent in offering buybacks. The rule of thumb seems to be the bar buys your fourth drink, regardless of whether you’re a regular or not.

 

Although I haven’t been a regular in years, I still get the royal treatment at Paddy Reilly’s in New York. No matter how long between visits, it always feels like home when I walk through the door.

 

A friend of mine, Pierce Turner, used to play regular Sunday night gigs at Puck Fair, also in NY. No matter where in the place I was standing, even on a busy night in the packed crowd, all I had to do was raise a finger and Dan the bartender had my pint of Belhaven on the way.

 

I lived in a tiny coastal village in Ireland for a couple of years. With only a few hundred people in the area, there were four pubs. Although we did visit all of them occasionally, choosing our “local” was easy. We had rented the house from a local dairy farmer but didn’t know anyone else in town. On our first visit to this pub we sat down and introduced ourselves as being new to the area. The owner, a woman in her 60’s, said to me, “Ach, of course. I heard your sister just had a baby. Was it a boy or girl?”

 

After getting over the shock of this complete stranger knowing my family details, I thought, this is definitely the place to go for gossip. This woman knew everything about everyone in town and they all stopped in at some time or another. Just being there immediately connected us with the local community. My boyfriend even bought an entire butchered lamb from Paddy the Sheep Farmer over a few pints one night. Paddy brought it to the house a few days later - how's that for customer service?

 

Although she occasionally let my boyfriend pay for drinks, she always refused to take my money when I stopped in by myself.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am a regular at all the bars my husband builds. Hence it is very easy to get my Makers with exactly three cubes and a lemon twist at all times. Unfortunately, many of my bartender friends suffer from wrist lock while pouring and I tend to get drunk a helluva lot more quickly than anticipated. It also costs me more to go out and drink for free because I tip like mad to compensate for all the free booze.

I get hammered and broke. But I am a good time. :rolleyes:

I lived and worked on a wee island in the middle of Lake Erie. It was in the biz etiquette to serve another tender from another bar on the island with their preferred drink as soon as they are spotted coming through the door. Often gratis or at a greatly reduced rate. I too spent more than I would if I were a paying tourist visiting this island paradise. But those tenders would visit me on their days/evenings off and tip just the same as I did.

 

Those two years I spent on the island, my liver was willing to jump out and die on the ground.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

Eater has started in on the whole New York buyback question. It might be interesting to follow, unless they plan to spend the next few months listing places that don't do it.

 

I am trying to think if any place I use as a regular doesn't offer buybacks. I have to say, Jimmy's Corner springs to mind. Still a wonderful bar, but buybacks are very rare. Usually only Jimmy himself buys customers drinks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A bartender writes on Eater:

 

"A good way to avoid establishments where you're unlikely to get a buyback? If the place has a devoted few bartenders who believe in the success of the place, and know that they're just taking money out of their owners' pockets by giving stuff away, they're probably not inclined to give you free drinks."

 

Not my experience. Sure, it happens, but buybacks also occur in bars with bartenders who do care and are working on developing and retaining a regular clientele composed of people who actually spend money. It's not necessarily tip-based; enough people tip correctly regardless of whether they get buybacks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A bartender writes on Eater:

 

"A good way to avoid establishments where you're unlikely to get a buyback? If the place has a devoted few bartenders who believe in the success of the place, and know that they're just taking money out of their owners' pockets by giving stuff away, they're probably not inclined to give you free drinks."

 

Not my experience. Sure, it happens, but buybacks also occur in bars with bartenders who do care and are working on developing and retaining a regular clientele composed of people who actually spend money. It's not necessarily tip-based; enough people tip correctly regardless of whether they get buybacks.

Indeed. "Devoted... bartenders who believe in the success of the place" will use comps (I've never heard them called "buybacks" here) judiciously to keep the money coming in, and savvy managers and owners know this and encourage it. I wonder where that guy tends bar, and how many regulars they have.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found in places with long term bartenders who I get to know are by far the most likely to comp drinks. This isn't just because of my own or my party's spending but over time I will bring a lot business to the establishment. It makes perfect sense to cultivate business. I've seen restaurant owners who also frequently comp drinks for regulars. I'm surprised when I become a semi regular and I rarely or never get comped. I believe it must be some directive from an owner.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Another way of knowing you're a regular is when the bartender hands you the phone with an "it's for you." And it is.

One lost summer, I lived on the second floor above a bar. The bar phone was my phone. The bar owner/landlord would lean his head out the window and scream for me when the phone was for me. At night, when it was busy, he would thump the ceiling with a broom.

 

It didn't happen that often as I was in the bar more than in our apartment.

In Provincetown, not only would people call me at one bar, but the bartender or patron who picked up the phone at that bar would come across the street to where I was sitting at the other bar. That was pretty cool.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was a bartender for several years. Comped drinks were for big tippers, regulars that I liked*, and beautiful women. Big tippers were, however, excluded from the comped drinks if they were lecherous and ran off the beautiful women.

 

 

*You can become a regular, but if you are an annoying person you aren't getting comped drinks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...