In this article, I hope to share a little story that has been brewing in me for quite some time. It’s a tribute of sorts, or a collective summary of time spent with people I have developed a relationship with through the years. I hope you will enjoy the fun nature of how it flows. In no way has anyone been excluded from recognition, but it’s more of a great recollection of some great days spent pouring lots of Miller Lites and laughing with friends. I hope you enjoy the read!
Last year I was helping to bartend at Rachel’s Roadhouse in Mercer where I had the opportunity to work with some of our company’s best behind the bar: Liz, Anna, Jullian, Kayla, April and Katey. Their hard work and dedication are second to none. My experience has allowed me to see firsthand just how amazing these talented individuals know their clientele, not to mention give me a firsthand look at how Rachel’s has come to have so many people regularly frequent their bar.
Some call them regulars, some call them frequent diners, some call them routine visitors, or even locals, but I call them the usual suspects. The usual suspects that can be found in our stores same time, same location, same bat channel, or same bar stool.
At Rachel’s in Mercer, we usually start the day opening the doors knowing Millie is sitting in her car ready to come in for her daily lunch. She usually chooses something off the lunch special sheet and gets a glass of wine or just an iced tea. She likes to sit at a booth and is most likely the first customer we will see. She knows everyone on staff, and everyone makes sure they greet her with a big good morning. Her happy smile and attitude towards life has always been a breath of fresh air and a great way to start the day.
Shortly thereafter, you can find George at the bar in the first stool by the board. He catches up from time to time, chattering away about all things Penn State college football with Frank and Baker, while the bartenders make sure he has a frosted cold Miller Lite draft. I first met George a few years ago as a regular over at the Hickory Bar & Grille where he loves to visit Jen to catch up with her and her boys. Jen has been with us at Hickory since we opened twenty years ago. She and George go way back.
As the day continues, large phoned in to go orders are taken one after the other, usually from local doctor’s offices. The bartenders work hard to ensure the big orders are filled and executed with the same care and precision for the meals being taken out, just as they would of the ones dining in. They pay close attention to details making sure their take-out customers’ needs are met the same as if they were sitting in front of them at the bar.
Around noon or so at the other end of the bar, Chuck will stroll in for another punch on his VIP lunch card, knowing after his fifth visit that his next meal is free. Everyone knows to pour him an iced tea and give him the specials sheet because he always likes a variety to chose from and often gives us ideas to make from his preferences.
Rob, a farmer from Cranberry, usually makes it in a few times a week for lunch. I’ve gotten to know him by name, and we’ve swapped a few good stories about friends and family.
As the day turns into night shift, the usual suspects begin again. The fun part of watching the busier of the two shifts is how well the bartenders know what everyone wants to drink, but they also know all the special requests for their food orders.
Tuesdays almost always mean everyone is coming in to enjoy Taco Tuesday. Your choice of 3 beef or chicken tacos for just $4.99, there isn’t a better deal for a meal anywhere around. Jack and Jennifer come in for beef tacos, no tomatoes, add olives and a couple of $1 Miller Lite drafts. Bryce gets 2 orders of chicken tacos and finished them with a couple Miller Lites. Boots gets naked nachos so all the chips on the bottom don’t get soggy. He gets everything on the side and puts them together as he goes. He normally enjoys his nachos with a couple of drafts as well.
Wednesday nights fill the bar stools with so many regulars piling in early. Rick and Donna are usually one of the first on the scene, Garrett takes the first bar stool by the chalk board, ordering a Makers Mark on the rocks and asking for the pedometer. (I’ll refer to that later) while Chris comes in for a bottle of Bud and a to go order before he leaves. As the night trickles on, we will see Dick and Martha, Rick and Donna, Bob and Cindy, Clyde, Chris, Jack and Rose, and of course good ol’ Ray.
Ray comes in so often that a few years ago I put a button in the computer for the line cooks to know it’s his order. He is allergic to chicken, so we take special care to make sure his order is always made without any cross contamination. Ray’s drink of choice is a Long Island Iced Tea, and I know how to pour them well, learning from old former bartenders I used to work with long ago. As the camaraderie sets in, you will see one another sharing food, buying drinks for one another and happiness ensues. Most of the guests at the bar are aware of Ray talking loudly and adamantly about sports and often he uses the word “sh*t”. The entire bar knows this, as Garrett has been using the pedometer since last May to register the frequency of how many times he says the word. They have an on going bet as to how high this number will reach. My guess is they had a roll over and started again with the new year. The environment on Wednesdays is absolutely something right out of the old Cheers sitcom. It is where everyone knows your name! I was recently reminded by Bob that only the “locals” know about the board. And he is right.
The chalkboard is filled with names of drinks to give to a customer bought by a customer by name. It’s pretty impressive if you think about it. Our bartenders know that many people by name that want to pass on a drink to someone else by name. That astounds me.
We are so blessed to have so many frequent customers that patronize our business week in and week out for us to get to know. Mr. & Mrs. Gallo were among our first patrons back in 1983 that were here the first night we opened, the same year they were married. We always make sure we have a great chardonnay for her like Kendall Jackson and as always, we will pour her husband a Jack Daniel’s on the rocks with cherry juice and at least three cherries.
It is my personal gratification to have been a part of getting to know this well-established family I am so happy to say I am a part of!