Remember the classic TV show Cheers? The show about a Boston bar where ‘everybody knows your name’ and ‘they’re always glad you came.’ Yeah it was a great show. And the characters, Sam Malone the owner, Diane, Carla and Woody who worked there, and cast of regulars, particularly Norm and Cliff. Remember how every time Norm would arrive everybody greeted him with a hearty “NORM!” Yeah Cheers was the place! I suppose most cities have a watering hole that is like Cheers. A place where the regulars go to unwind after work, watch some sports, shot pool or share some casual conversation over drinks before heading home.
In my town Casa Del Rey is our Cheers. It’s a Mexican Restaurant with a nice large bar area. Usually a restaurant bar is more of a waiting zone where you can have a drink while you wait to be seated at your table. Not at Casa, at Casa the bar has a following of its own, a cast of regulars. I suppose I fall into the ‘regular’ category. My wife certainly thinks so.
You see a group of us from work have been meeting there on most Wednesday’s for several years now. What began as a meeting place to help a troubled friend went on to become a tradition. We began going about a year after one of my colleagues, Tony, had lost his wife. He’d become very reclusive and was having a hard time adapting to his loss, so the school psychologist and I devised a plan to try and get him out of the house once in awhile. It wasn’t easy, but with a lot of coaxing we finally managed to get him to meet us at Casa Del Rey. Why Casa? I’m not sure, it really could have been anywhere, but it was centrally located to our homes, had a nice bar, decent food and a pleasant atmosphere. My wife and I had been to the restaurant often with our family, but we’d only sat in the bar area a few times while waiting for a table. On those occasions I remember telling her how much it reminded me of the Old Town Mexican Café in San Diego. I felt as if I were vacationing somewhere far away and not just a mile or so from home.
From the first night we met there we could tell that our idea had merit. Tony had worked with us for sometime and trusted us, he willingly opened up to us. It was very therapeutic. We went on meeting on Thursday evenings for months and months, eventually we moved it to Wednesdays and began inviting more people. We’ve continued getting together ever since, even meeting on occasion during summer vacation. Even after all these years Tony still talks about what we did for him and how much of a difference those conversations at Casa helped him.
The group has changed through the years, as have our meeting locations, but for some reason we always find our way back to Casa. My wife says it’s the strong drinks which may be part of the reason. Our server /bartender has been there since we started going and she does takes excellent care of us, but I think it’s more about comfort and familiarity. Our core group consists of a few friends from work, my sister, my wife and myself. Many times other friends including my nephew and niece join us. There’s been several times when there are a dozen or more of us there, but usually it’s just five or six us.
I don’t know how long we’ll continue meeting at Casa, but I can honestly tell you I like our weekly hump-day get together’s. It’s something I look forward too. There’s something to be said about getting together with friends and unwinding over a drink. It is therapeutic. Yes I know I could save my money and invite people over to the house instead, where we could sit out in the back yard and do the same thing, my wife often makes that suggestion, but it’s not the same. The atmosphere at Casa adds to the enjoyment, seeing the regulars, watching and listening to them is all part of the hump-day experience. Sometimes I’ve even gone on a Sunday afternoon to watch a football game or for Monday Night football and many of the same people are there. Coincidently, our favorite bartender/server only works on Sunday afternoons, Monday and Wednesdays nights. Must be karma.
So for now I’ll continue to enjoy our weekly Casa rendezvous. I’ll start to worry about being a regular the first time everyone in the bar greets me with a hearty “JOHN” when I arrive…
Just a thought…