I always sit in Chuy’s section, granted he could spell it Chewy, but I’ve never asked. I ordered chili sides the first few times I went and got trapped in that being my usual order because there is something tangibly awkward when someone asks you “the usual?” and you say “no”
Then the bowling alley diner became the opposite of awkward and I would go at least once a week with a book or friend and drink way too much caffeine at 6pm because I was just out of college and invincible. I was also in a new neighborhood where I didn’t know many people and on my first bout with being relatively self-sufficient (i.e. poor). I could get a good cooked meal for $10 with tax and tip and sit next to a row of old men and a strange and talkative younger doctor at the counter, who were friendly faces and largely the same faces (night after night, not same faces as each other). Oh, also, and a lot of overweight friendly cops sitting with sides of ranch dressing.
I feel like this whole thing would be amiss without mentioning the one-armed long-haired chain-smoking league bowler I would pass on the way in.
As someone who largely prefers books to conversations with strangers, I kept to myself and my waiter friends and I loved it. Over time I got busier with comedy, hanging out with my cat and losing my college 20, so my visits had largely slowed down. Last week I drove by and there were 100 people protesting the eviction and as a Berkeley grad I was hoping for some important societal change. Turns out the local AMF is effectively evicting them at the end of the month and replacing it with a supper club that I hope no one in my neighborhood ever gives his or her patronage.