Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Becoming a "Temporary Regular"

When I travel, I'm usually at a given location for no more that 5 days. Aside from work, one of my primary occupations is trying to find something decent to eat. This situation does not afford me much time, nor margin of error in choosing a place to dine. I've used various techniques to try to narrow down my options, but the results that I have had, as you can imagine, are hit and miss.

If I should happen to find an establishment that is excellent, I become fiercely loyal and take as many of my remaining meals there as is practical. Unfortunately, it isn't often that I get to become a "temporary regular" even though I'd like nothing better. It's basically a numbers problem with the numbers stacked against me. There are so many mediocre restaurants out there that the odds of me finding one on the first couple of days of a trip is pretty slim.

Today I'd like to tell you about my recent stint as a temporary regular in Akron, Ohio. On my second to last day in town, the group I was with went to The Lockview. The place was full and the service was on the slow side, but something told me this was a special place. Maybe it was the multitude of grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu, or maybe it was the chalkboard menu above the bar featuring around 145 different beers. OK, it was mostly the variety of beers that did it for me, but at any rate, I knew that I'd be back.

That night I returned and took a seat at the bar. There, I met Webber, the bartender, who told me all kinds of interesting tidbits about The Lockview. For instance, the service can be a bit slow at lunch time because they make a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches with one grill that measures only three feet wide.

Since The Lockview is, at it's heart, a bar, I shall start there. The list of beers is impressive, they even have 8 different beers (three on tap) from Rogue Breweries way out in Oregon. It is true that the majority of the beer that The Lockview offers is in bottles, but this does not deter from the beer drinking experience as the beer cooler glows with a wonderful radiance that only large quantities of bottled beer can produce.

While it isn't on the menu, you can still order a Bud Light if you really want one. The thinking behind this is that The Lockview is a friendly place and they don't want to turn someone away just because they happen to favor this ubiquitous beer. I did witness one patron order a Bud Light while I was there and while he didn't receive any grief from the staff, he did get gently heckled by some of the other patrons.

The expected array of spirits are available at the Lockview, but most people come here for the beer. One thing should be perfectly clear- The Lockview is not a sports bar! They only have 2 TVs (one bigscreen and one small one) and unless there's a local game on or a special request, they are tuned to the Food Network. I have to say that it was refreshing to go someplace where I didn't have to see 3 different sporting events concurrently in any direction that I looked.

On my second night at The Lockview, Webber greeted by name and with a firm handshake. That the effort was made to learn my name even though it was clear that I couldn't become a regular was very touching. The rest of the staff including server Brandi and cook Pete were equally warm and inviting. I even got to go back into the kitchen to see just how cramped things were back there.
The food here is understandably greasy for a menu that revolves around grilled cheese sandwiches and anything that can easily be deep fried. Thankfully, there are some lighter options, like salads, to balance out the greasy indulgences, like deep fried pepperoni.

It is places like The Lockview that keep me exploring my destinations for interesting food while I travel. For that I am eternally thankful to Webber, Pete, Brandi and everyone else at The Lockview.

The next time you find someplace excellent while traveling, don't let the lure of something better prevent you from becoming a temporary regular because while you might do better, you are more likely to do much worse.

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  1. Nice article. I shared it with my F & B team here at the historic Hawthorne Hotel. Many of my best friends started off as "temporary regulars" here at the Hotel. Glad to see you recognize the other side of the coin.

    Be sure to come see us if you are ever in the Boston area.

    Juli L, G.M.

  2. Be sure to come see us if you are ever in the Boston area....

    That just struck me as funny!

    Love ya, Mom

  3. Hawthorne Hotel- To explain why my mom AKA: Anonymous thought that this comment was funny is because I am currently living in the greater Boston area. This is why people can't casually invite me to stop by some place as, eventually, I'll get there.