Sometimes you want to go…
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
The sitcom Cheers wasn’t a long-running hit from 1982 to 1993 for no good reason. It was a hit because so very many of us related to one aspect of the show or another. We enjoy & seek out the opportunity to drink, relax & socialize. When those pleasures intersect with a bar like Cheers, even if fictional, that has consistent staff & patrons you know, that is the ultimate discovery. We can’t help but go back for more. Certainly we enjoy trying new places and do so, though, as they say: it’s always nice just to go home.
Unfortunately and to the dismay of so very many, these days few bars that have a similar spirit as to what Cheers emanated. Between ever changing staff or frequent sales of bars & restaurants, we can no longer seem to find a place to establish a pleasant routine. The routine where in which we drink, relax, socialize and everybody knows your name.
I, however, have discovered a somewhat agreeable solution after my very own Cheers bar closed down. For a number of years, Snack Bar on 20th Street was my predominant post-work stop. The bartender Douglas Fitz, currently of Jamonera on 13th Street, is today’s Sam Malone to many including myself. Doug treated and still treats his guests as regulars from day one. Upon walking in the door of Snack Bar after a long day, following just one look with no verbal exchange, Doug could tell if I needed a Vesper Martini, a Blanton’s Manhattan, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the house, or firmly instruct me to go straight home to bed. He was spot on every time.
My solution after losing Snack Bar (and Doug along with it) was to try to go wherever Doug went work-wise. Yes, I traveled from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River & a number places in between. Though no matter the length of the trek, some bartenders are just well worth it, and Doug is certainly one of the finest. Going to his bars following Snack Bar was the closest thing I could do to maintain a level of consistency — and, even more importantly, retain that feeling of being valued and appreciated as a patron. Those feelings alone are very close to non existent these days with the majority of establishments, no matter their level, spreading from dives to 5 Diamonds.
Is being a personable & savvy bartender a lost art at this point?
Evidence and observation is certainly pointing in that direction.