Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Originally posted by Scott.

Back at home (sunny Scotland for those of you who missed it), everyone has his or her “local”. A local, for the uninitiated, is an individual’s pub, or bar, of choice – the one where he or she instinctively heads for a quick drink. Your default pub, if you like.

Now, because I’m British and we like confusing people, a “local”, although easy to get to, is not necessarily the closest bar to home. Rather, it’s the place where you choose to drink over all the others in your area. Your home away from home. Your port in a storm. Your refuge from the grind of daily life.

It is important to note that what makes a pub “good”, is different from what makes it your local.
What makes a good pub may be the extensive selection of Single malt Scotch. It may be the 75 beers on tap – only a handful of which are domestic. It could be the big screen TV’s showing any number of sporting events from the NBA play-offs to the local highschool tiddlywinks championship. It could be a taste of home. It could even be the waitresses dressed as schoolgirls. Whatever the draw, whatever the hook, the important thing is that it continues to bring you back. What makes a local is different. Sure, your local is probably somewhere you consider to be a good bar, but there’s more to it.

Merely being a good bar isn’t enough. It misses the point. The “local” is a phenomenon that goes beyond just being a good bar, or a place where you’re almost guaranteed to hook up with someone. For my money, your local is a place for which you forsake other bars EVEN THOUGH the other places are good bars, or you’re almost guaranteed to hook up with someone.

For me it’s the place where you walk in, and you know people. Regardless of what day of the week it is, or what time it is. It’s the place where the guy behind the bar, or the girl who brings you drink is not a member of staff, but your friend. It’s the place where not only do they know what you drink, but normally they don’t even bother to ask, because they started to pour it for you when you walked through the door.

What brings me back to places is a simple recipe. It has to be comfortable. It has to have two or three of the drinks I like on a regular basis. It has to attract the type of people I want to be around, for whatever reasons. It has to draw those who like to drink, yet deter power drinkers and drunks.

What makes a place my “local”, is a factor that is so easy to point to, yet so hard for many places to get right – the staff and the atmosphere they generate. If you get the right group behind the bar, then I will come back again and again.

The key is a term I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Find yourself “your home away from home”. Find the place that you’d want if you were opening a bar. Find it, and stick with it. When you get to the stage where everyone knows your name, you’ll never leave.

Because you have no need to go anywhere else.

You’re already home.

My local, for those of you who are interested, is currently 10 Downing St., located at 2549 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas 77019. It's close to work, and definitely worth the drive from where I live. I’m probably there 5 nights a week, and I consider it my home away from home. So do my friends – if I’m not in my apartment, chances they’ll find me at “home”.


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