Increasingly, restaurants are recording whether you are a regular, a first-timer, someone who lives close by or a friend of the owner or manager. They archive where you like to sit, when you will celebrate a special occasion and whether you prefer your butter soft or hard, Pepsi over Coca-Cola or sparkling over still water. In many cases, they can trace your past performance as a diner; how much you ordered, tipped and whether you were a “camper” who lingered at the table long after dessert.
“We will write if the person is kosher or can’t eat shellfish,” said Ed Schoenfeld, who owns RedFarm in the West Village. “And we take note of the people who sat for six and a half hours last time, so next time we are sure to give them an uncomfortable seat.”
Restaurants that take extra care to get to know their diners are the ones that will build loyalty. The food has to be good, of course, but I’ll go back to a place, and recommend it to all my friends, if I’m treated well and have a positive experience. (Though it’s also interesting to know how inconsiderate diners are also treated on a return visit.)
One of my friends told me that a restaurant remembered her engagement dinner: “We put ’1K’ next to your reservation,” she was told. (One knee.)