Regular customers play a key role in keeping many restaurants afloat, and the relationship works both ways, restaurateurs say. In addition to filling tables eateries would otherwise have to book with first-time or occasional guests, regular patrons help create a sense of community. "They feel like they’re part of a club," said Jonathan Rubinstein, owner of Joe the Art of Coffee, who says 75% of his customers come in at least three times a week.

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