I’ve lived in 7 different places, and in each place I’ve always found a bar that becomes ‘my spot’. After about the 10th visit the bartenders start to recognize you, you get comfortable at the same table, and you’re going on a regular basis. In good times or bad, your regular hang-out can be a place to vent, celebrate, or just relax.
For me at my current spot that is about once a week, usually for a Hoegaarden or two. I recently got a kick-ass coffee table (or bar top) book, purely made up of photos of regulars (aptly titlled The Regulars) which is what got me thinking about the topic.
Sarah Stolfa is an extremely gifted photographer who took all the pictures as a student while bartending at McGlinchey’s bar in Philadelphia. Each photo depicts one person sitting at the bar where she worked, but they are more than just pictures. From all walks of life, and covering the spectrum of human emotion I find myself flipping through the book regularly, just picking a page and studying the image for a few minutes. Some look confused, some happy, some enthralled in work, some smoking an endless amount of cigarettes; every picture tells a story.
I find myself now trying to spot regulars at the bars I frequent. I think there’s a few key factors that draw me to the same bar more than once:
* the bartenders: I want a crew that can remember my name, make my drinks extra stiff and give me some ‘Regular’ attention when it gets busy
* the crowd: ah, the scenery; everyone loves a good view while you enjoy a pint or two but they key is laid back people you can talk to
* the environment: show me a patio with palm trees and Christmas lights. I’m sure some people prefer the classical dingy atmosphere you can find in the Regulars but I go out to escape. I want to feel like I’m on vacation.
* the location: If I can stumble home on the two foot express while grabbing a slice of pizza on route, then my night can be complete.
I wonder if I would make an interesting still life? Probably not.
What about you guys? What moves a bar from a one time visit to a routine stop?
You can grab the book I’ve been shamelessly plugging here: