Charleston County’s master-in-equity mostly deals with real-estate issues — foreclosures, contract disputes and the like.
And in a way, the case it heard last month was one. It had nothing to do with land or buildings in any literal sense, but it was a classic tussle over who holds the keys.
The dispute was over a handful of websites — storefronts, in their own way — and the techie hired to maintain them. And they were small claims, all things considered. So master-in-equity Mikell Scarborough took up the case.
The complaint was brought by Elysium Salon, a high-end hair-and-makeup salon on Meeting Street. It sued a local website manager they’d hired years ago and GoDaddy Inc., one of the largest web-hosting companies there is.
As it turns out, according to their case, the salon’s business dealings with the manager “abruptly ended” and he let their registration lapse. Oh, and they couldn’t pay up because they didn’t have their websites’ passwords, which they say had been changed.
It’s the sort of dispute that you’d expect to come up a lot. Except, somehow, it doesn’t.
Just take GoDaddy for instance. The company manages 75 million Web domains across the planet — about one website in five. But it hadn’t previously been sued in any of South Carolina’s largest counties until the hair salon case came along.
GoDaddy was preparing to erase the salon owners’ five websites, which covered the salon and a few related ventures. Hair “artist” bios, booking forms, photos of clients — all set to be wiped from existence.
To stop that from happening, GoDaddy requires a court order, which is how Scarborough got involved. And after paying their former website manager $500 and updating their billing information, the hair business got one — and they got their keys back.
The salon and website manager couldn’t be reached for comment.
Charleston is more than 850 miles from the bucolic village of Rhinebeck in Upstate New York, but the two far-flung locales now share a common business bond, thanks in part to the snowstorm that crippled the Lowcountry earlier this year.
While on a winter break in South Carolina, Wesley Dier and wife Bryn Bahnatka-Dier were pondering the future of their faltering eight-year-old Hudson River Valley restaurant, 38 West Market Street.
“Last year was pretty rough,” Dier, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, said in a recently published article in the arts and culture publication Chronogram.com.
While vacationing in Charleston, the couple talked about selling the business and moving south to the Holy City to start over, according to the report.
“We sat in our hotel’s bar and contemplated life’s ups and downs, and the good and bad of owning a restaurant where we grew up versus transplanting ourselves to a new place,” Bahnatka-Dier said.
They changed their mind when the Jan. 3 snowstorm hit and closed the runways at Charleston International Airport for three days, just as they were preparing to fly home.
Cooler heads prevailed amid the unseasonably frigid South Carolina weather. They re-evaluated their situation and concocted a new dining idea for their Rhinebeck space.
“We recognized we might be too old to move to another state and reinvent ourselves, not just our restaurant,” said Bahnatka-Dier, who is 46.
The couple has since opened Catch 38, which describes itself as a “contemporary American fish shack.”
Bow tie event
A gift between two friends that became a unique Charleston-based business recently served as the Palmetto State's centerpiece handcrafted creation at the White House.
Brackish bow ties, the feathery brainchild of business partners Jeff Plotner and Ben Ross, was selected to represent South Carolina during the Made in America Product Showcase in Washington, D.C., last week, where one hand-crafted brand from each state was represented.
"We... are so honored to have been chosen to showcase our pieces at the White House," said Plotner, co-founder and CEO of Brackish.
"Keeping production local to Charleston and sourcing feathers of the highest quality has always been of utmost importance to me," Ross said. "Repurposing the beauty of nature, specifically in South Carolina, is what we strive to accomplish through our designs."
The two founded the company in 2012. Its artistry team, which hand selects each feather and makes each bow tie virtually one of a kind, is now made up of more than 50 members at the West Ashley factory.
Goobers get grounded
As American Airlines prepares to purge its cabins of plastic straws, crosstown rival Southwest Airlines is jettisoning a slightly tastier in-flight offering.
Dallas-based Southwest will stop serving peanuts to passengers starting this week. It will mark the end of a tradition that goes back decades.
Southwest said it’s grounding goobers as of Aug. 1 out of concerns for travelers who are allergic to them. In their place: pretzels and, on some longer flights, other free snacks.
Southwest, which operates 10 daily flights to six cities from Charleston International Airport, said its decision followed months of deliberation and isn't tied to any particular incident.
No snack is more closely identified with a U.S. airline than peanuts. Over the years, Southwest used the legume in marketing campaigns. A blog on its website is called "Nuts About Southwest."
Some of Southwest's other early quirks, like dressing flight attendants in hot pants, went out decades ago, but the peanuts survived. Until now.