It is a little more than fifteen miles from here to the High Country Saloon. I went, and I wrote. The value of my writing has yet to be determined. But today was reinforced the most important way to measure a bar.
It’s all about the regulars.
It was quiet when I first got there; no one was at the bar and the only occupied table held a group of yuppie bikers. The tables and chairs were dark-stained wood, the bar also. The floor was littered with peanut shells. There were about ten taps with a reasonably wide selection of beers. I settled into a chair and started to write. My beer arrived, the bikers left, and I ordered a green chile cheeseburger. It was deeeeelicious.
Before long the regulars began to arrive. Eventually there was quite a crowd at the table abandoned by the yuppie bikers. One chair remained empty, however, even as the table became very crowded. It was the King’s chair. No one knew when of even if the king was coming in, but his chair was waiting for him. It’s a good thing that I hadn’t selected that table for my writing; it would have thrown the whole bar out of alignment.
After I had finished writing, I went over and sat at the bar for one more beer. I was probably the only non-fixture among those lined up across from Gail, our bartender. The guy next to me got up and said, “Keep my tab open. I’ll be back later. You can have my fries.” There is a generally recognized definition of regular there—when Gail eats off your plate without asking first that means you’re a regular.
Your typical regular or fixture is a bar’s best marketing machine. The people I talked to really sold the bar; I’ll be going back.