December 22, 2015

What Your Bar or Restaurant Could Learn From “Cheers”


While many might be a bit too young to actually remember the classic 1980s sitcom “Cheers,” there’s a good chance that you have at least heard of it.

If you’re a restaurant or bar owner and would like to check out a seminal television show that is relevant to your business, we definitely recommend checking out some reruns or dialing “Cheers” up on your Netflix.

No matter what generation you’re a part of, it’s easy to appreciate the humor of “Cheers” because the characters and situations are as relevant today as they were three decades ago.

Also, there are tons of lessons to be learned from it if you’re running any type of service-based business. Here are a few.

Know Your Customers By Name

If you know the words of the show’s theme song, then you already know the first tip that “Cheers” can offer anyone running a business that serves drinks or food.

“Sometimes you wanna go where everyone knows your name.”

One of the central characters is a bar regular named Norm Peterson. Every time he enters Cheers, everyone sitting at the bar and working at it greets him by emphatically yelling “Norm!” as soon as he walks in to take his seat at the bar.

Not only does everyone know his name, all of the bartenders know what drink he wants as well. What does this mean to Norm? It makes this portly would-be accountant feel comfortable and appreciated. More than anything, it makes him feel special.

That’s something that you need to do for all of your regular patrons. Make them feel as if they belong. Take interest in them and make them feel as if they are a part of the experience. Your regular customers are your most important ones. They provide you with a steady stream of income, they tell their friends and family about you and the way you treat them also gives newcomers an idea of what type of a bar or eatery you run.

You should try to interact with your new customers in the same way. Learn their names and try to make them feel like regulars, even if they’ve never been to your bar or restaurant before.

Running a successful bar or restaurant is about providing a great experience as much as it is about providing great food and beverages.

Create a Familial Atmosphere

When it comes to your family, you don’t pick favorites. Or at least, you shouldn’t. The same should go for customers. We have already talked about how the staff at Cheers makes people feel at home, but it even goes beyond that. The regulars at Cheers are considered family.

And as you watch the show, you’ll notice that all of the regulars are completely different as people. Norm was an accountant and house painter on the side, Frasier was a psychiatrist, Cliff was a mailman.

Whether you were a man or a woman, young or old, blue collar or white collar worker, the staff at Cheers made you feel as if you were a part of something – a family. You should be using the same approach in your business.

Everyone who walks into your bar or restaurant deserves to be treated equally. All of your customers deserve the same level of respect. You should welcome everyone with the same smile, have a seat at your bar or restaurant available for them and serve them with the same level of attention and care that you afford to your best customers.

Lend a Compassionate Ear

As mentioned earlier, people don’t go to bars and restaurants just for the food and drinks. They want the full experience. More than anything, people come for the social aspect of it. This is perfectly demonstrated in “Cheers.”

The bartenders at Cheers always make time for interactions with their loyal patrons. People love to talk with other people at bars and restaurants and share their stories. Listen to them and interact with them whenever you can.

You should be creating an atmosphere in which your loyal customers enjoy opening up to you and telling you about their lives. You can’t know anything about your customers until you interact with them. There’s a good chance that some of them come to your establishment in order to talk to other people and get things off their chests. They might not have another outlet, which is why they love coming to your place of work.

Don’t shun them, listen to them. This helps you build a stronger relationship both personally and in terms of guaranteeing that you will always be able to count on their loyal business and recommendations to others.

Care About Your Community

There is one main character that isn’t listed on the Cheers Wikipedia page, but is probably just as important as any of the others. That character is the city of Boston. Boston provides the identity of the show. It’s the city in which these people live and work, and if Cheers was a bar in any other city, it would be a completely different show.

Take some tips from head waitress Carla, who was an avid fan of anything Boston, especially the city’s professional sports teams. Make sure that you show that you care about your community.

This goes beyond professional sports. Support your local high school teams if they are running fundraisers for new equipment. Invite local girl scouts in and buy their cookies and then hand them out to customers. If there are big local events going on in your town or city, sponsor them or at least help promote them.

The more you show that you care about your community, the more your community will care about you. You’ll no longer be “that bar or restaurant,” you’ll be “their bar or restaurant.” See the difference?

Build a Complementary Team

What drives the show and all of the dynamics of the bar the most is the staff. In the original cast, the staff is made up of Sam, the head bartender, cocktail waitresses Diane and Carla, and co-bartender Coach.

They all have strengths and weaknesses, both as servers and as people, but as a team they work absolutely flawlessly together. They are all on the same page, even when they don’t think they are, and they provide the patrons of Cheers with the perfect customer experience.

When you are staffing your bar or restaurant, you should be looking to create these types of teams. Try to put together people that not only work well together, but also offer different skill sets that compliment one another.

The best way to give service of the highest standards to a wide array of customers is to make sure that your staff is just as diverse as your patrons.


To put things into perspective, take a moment to think about your favorite restaurant or bar. Do you go there because they have the absolute best food in town that you can’t get anywhere else? Do they have a special drink menu that’s unmatched in your area?

Probably not. Most likely, you love it because of the experience. You enjoy going there because you feel comfortable in your own skin there. You like the people that work there and you have a feeling that they probably like you too.

That’s the Cheers effect!