The Restaurants That Remember You

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.)

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8 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#22)

I went to my favorite restaurant right after it had opened, and the food was outstanding but the service was SLOW. It was a 7 course tasting menu (I was there with my mom, so, FANCY DINNER TIME) and it took about 3.5 hours. I loved it and wrote a yelp review (!) to that effect, but said that I was bummed the service was so, so, so slow. The owner/chef then posted a comment on my review apologizing and saying the next time I came in, they’d comp the meal. I came back a few months later with my dad and stepmom and didn’t plan on mentioning it, since it was three people, but the dude RECOGNIZED ME, connected me to the review, and just handled the meal. Also remembered how much I loved their fucking amazing sangria.

probs (#296)

@deepomega that is super cool

probs (#296)

I think for certain people (myself included), it’s hard to overestimate the appeal of being “a regular,” so it makes sense that places would want to take advantage of that effect in a systematic way. Of course, I’ve only ever been a regular at bars…

wearitcounts (#772)

@probs <3 being a regular. always at bars.

Who prefers their butter hard?? Soft butter is my automatic, not necessarily fair judgment of a restaurant being worth my time.

lindseykai (#1,544)

@Katey Rich@facebook And when has a restaurant ever served both Coke and Pepsi?

Megano! (#124)

I am down with this in terms of making a customer’s next experience a good one, but kinda douchey that they’re also using it to get it rid of you if you’re not an “ideal customer” (which I am probably not, becuase I am poor).

I took my boyfriend to Restaurant Nora in DC for his birthday last year. They printed special menus for us that said Happy Birthday Boyfriend at the top. (With his name, though, not the word Boyfriend, because that would be weird.)

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