Where everybody knows your name

Yesterday I had to trek to my old town to visit my GP. Whenever I find myself there, I have to visit one of my favorite restaurants.

There are only a few places that cater to me and my niche dietary needs. That by itself keeps me coming.

They also remember me, and they remember what I like, even though I’m only there every month or two.

That feels good. They see me, a fan, and do little things to show it. Whether it’s drawing a triforce on my box, labeling my tots “potato nuggets” when they learned I dip them in buffalo sauce, offering avocados when I forget to ask, or simply taking a minute to make my name look cute on the takeout bag. Sometimes they’ve even included an extra order of my favorites.

Why notice the fans and be nice to them? I mean, I don’t have a lot of options. I’m practically stuck with these few places. As I was telling a friend the other day, I’ve gone out with friends to other restaurants where literally the only thing I could eat is steamed broccoli with lemon, salt, and pepper. Not bad, but not a great experience.

Now consider these few places. One reason they’ve gotten to know me before the pandemic is that I’d bring new friends there all the time. My friends can eat whatever they want. They have plenty of choices. But when I’m with them, we go to places where I can eat.

“Have you been here before?” the servers ask. And my friends or family or blind dates or coworkers say “No, but she has, and she loves it here. She convinced me to come.”

And, because I would only bring friends to a place I’m proud of, of course they like it. They want to go back, too. Especially if they hear of a friend who just found out they’re celiac or has some new allergy. “I know just the place for you…” and boom, that restaurant has another new super fan.

It’s something I think about often. And I was reminded again yesterday when I picked up my gluten-free vegan falafel pita with extra avocado. I’m a happy customer.

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