Within moments of being born, most babies find themselves receiving the first four gifts of life: eye Contact, a smile, a hug, and some food. We receive many other gifts in a lifetime, but few can surpass those four." - Denny Meyer, Setting the Table
Are you one of those people who goes to the same coffee shop every morning or eats lunch at the same restaurant every Thursday? If not, I'll bet you can think of someone that fits that description. Those friends that know the restaurant owner by name or they go kayaking on the weekends with the barista that works at their favorite coffee shop.
Meet my friend Ryan. He gets die hard passionate about things. Especially food. Like the mexican restaurant owner of La Bamba (now closed) in Honolulu that catered his wedding. He became more than the occasional diner, he became the owner's friend. That doesn't happen without consistent patronage.
I have a favorite restaurant (Crave) and a favorite coffee shop (Java in Hyde Park). In fact I ate lunch at Crave today with my wife. We go there at least once, probably twice a month. But we've never gone consistent enough that the owner and the staff recognize us.
We go just often enough that we've met both owners, and we kinda feel like they'd recognize us but it's just long enough apart that we don't know them. It's not our "3rd place".
Third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place. - Ray Oldenburg
I was reflecting on this today: thinking of my friend Ryan, thinking of Denny Meyer's must read book Setting the Table that I picked back up the other day randomly, and I came to the conclusion that routine and ritual bring happiness and opportunity. Perhaps this is just a sign I'm getting old, lol.
Crave is not a cheap restaurant. It aint no 5-star Michelin restaurant mind you but it's definitely not Applebees. The interesting thing is, if I went 1 - 2x more per month (say every Thursday for lunch) then I would for sure get to know the owner and some of the staff and other regulars. For an extra investment of $100 - $200 I could gain a friend, gain a connection, or maybe just gain the occasional free appetizer or discount who knows.
The point is, loyalty pays off. We humans are creatures of habit, and we need a 3rd place in our lives.
So be on the lookout for friendships and fellowship wherever your taste buds or travels may take you.
Cultures that care deeply about food often care about life, history, and tradition. - Denny Meyer