Just about every neighborhood probably has its version of Cheers. That familiar place where everyone knows your name. I imagine this is an extremely personal declaration and my familiar hang out is not necessarily the same as yours. In other words, a town’s “Cheers,” isn’t always (or ever) a one size fits all kind of an establishment.
For me, my Cheviot Hills/Rancho Park/Pico parking spot where I can sidle up to the counter and know I’ll be greeted with a warm, first name welcome and gracious familiarity is: FOOD. Judy has been the owner and head chef for as long as it’s bright red blocked name has been hovering above Pico Boulevard. I had the pleasure of selling her son’s condo and putting him and his wife (who happens to be a teacher at our son’s elementary school) into their new home. Their toddler-aged daughter has combined my first and last name and calls me Benly. When I pop into Food for a quick bite and hear ‘BENLY!’ from across the crowded restaurant, I know Emma is eating there, too.
Going to Food, for me, is kind of like going home again. There are rules here and regulars know them: no saving seats and have your counter order ready because there’s usually a long line of hungry customers waiting behind you. Judy knows when I’m trying to diet (sometimes because my wife will be in the day before and mention it to her) and not only will she steer me in healthier directions, but she won’t sneak me a special sweet treat that she knows are so hard to resist.
One of the fun aspects of coming to Food is all the friends and neighbors you run into. If you’re not in the mood to be social, you’re probably better off going some place else. I often liken the experience to Food being Cheviot Hills’ communal cafeteria but with much better food. I often happen across everyone from clients to old friends having a bite to eat. It can get loud in there during lunch time but it’s always nice to see a familiar face and have a minute or two to catch up before heading back to work.
There is a comfort that comes from a menu that you know and like as well as pleasure that stems from receiving amazing customer service so subtle that you don’t even know you’re really getting it until you realize later that you might not have tried the salmon if Judy hadn’t have recommended it. And speaking of recommendations, I suggest you arrive before twelve if you want an extra minute to decide what you’re going to eat. The closer the clock inches towards that lunchtime rush, the less patient the line behind you will be. My favorite is a trio of display case salads but everything I’ve tried here has been great. See you there!