Hello, Goodbye: the art of the warm welcome

A smile and a few words of welcome go a long way when you’re a stranger in a strange pub.

On a mission to tick a pub for #EveryPubInBristol the other day we were made to feel at home in a pub that otherwise didn’t much appeal to us.

It wasn’t over the top. It was just that when we reached the bar we got: “Hello! With you in just a second.”

Then when they did get to us, in just a second, the first thing they asked us was how our days had been.

Not a grumble about how their day had been, or a curt WhatCanIGetcha, but a simple question that suggested they recognised as fellow human beings.

Finally, as they handed over our drinks, they said: “We’ve got a singer on at eight, fifties, sixties, classic rock…”

But what they meant, we suppose, was: “We hope you’ll stay for the evening. We’re happy you’re here.”

We instantly felt accepted, like locals, despite the fact it was our first visit.

We didn’t stay, though, because (a) we had another nearby pub to visit nearby; (b) as a pair of mutterers we didn’t want to try to talk over live music; and (c) there was nothing much for us to get excited about drinking.

Still, so touched were we by the welcome that we were seriously tempted to stay for another, and it felt almost rude to leave, despite all the good reasons to do so listed above.

A good welcome is a hook. It makes you feel seen and forms a connection. And signals to the regulars that they’d better behave, too: these people are our guests.

The goodbye wasn’t bad, either. As we dropped our glasses on the bar and snuck away through the crowd, there was a wave and, over the hubbub: “Bye! Enjoy your evening! See you again!”

And you know what? Maybe they will.

As Tandleman wrote back in 2016:

When I started work in a pub many, many years ago the first thing the Boss said, was always say “Hello” and “Goodbye” or equivalent… He reasoned that the hello made people feel welcome and the goodbye made people feel appreciated. It is enduring logic and complete business sense.