07 Bar_from_Above.JPG (copy)

Customers enjoy the bar at Ink N Ivy, now open at 565 King Street in downtown Charleston on Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Marlena Sloss/ Staff

There are two sides to every story, including those posted to Yelp and the like. And for those disputes, court is now in session.

The Post and Courier Food section weekly features a complaint that first surfaced online, along with testimonies from the patron and restaurateur.

You, the readers, are the jury. Join us in our Facebook group to weigh in on whether the customer is indeed right, or if the case should be resolved in the restaurant’s favor. Let’s enter the courtroom.

THE PLAINTIFF

Lisa N. is based in Paradise Valley, Ariz. During her short stay in Charleston, she posted eight reviews, including raves for The Rooftop Bar at Vendue, Saltwater Cowboys and Indaco, although she was miffed that her husband’s bourbon was poured over standard-sized ice cubes. He surmised that big rocks were reserved for locals. (She still gave five stars to the upper King Street restaurant.)

THE DEFENDANT

Ink N Ivy, a small Charlotte-based chain, in 2017 opened its Charleston location with a lengthy menu of elaborate steak and seafood dishes. But the items didn’t resonate with Ink N Ivy’s young and thirsty clientele, so the restaurant “just sat idle” for about a year, according to general manager Tara Monahan. When Monahan arrived in 2018, she “flipped the concept to make it more in line with our demographic.” Now the food menu stresses burgers and wings, and the restaurant serves $7.99 all-you-can-eat macaroni-and-cheese on Thursdays.

THE CLAIM

When Lisa N. went to Ink N Ivy, she wasn’t particularly interested in eating or drinking. She was drawn into the restaurant by “a great acoustic band.” She took a seat at the bar and asked for a press. The bartender “didn't even know what a press was and was quite put out that I had to explain it,” she wrote in her Yelp review, adding, “Half Sprite; half club soda. Not so difficult.”

THE DEFENSE

Monahan expects her bartenders to be familiar with dozens of craft cocktails, including those developed by the Ink N Ivy team, as well as the restaurant’s 30 draft beers. But she wasn’t concerned that the bartender professed ignorance of the press, which she says she’s never encountered over 39 years in the hospitality industry.

“Any mixologist on this street wouldn’t be able to make that,” she maintains.

What bothered Monahan is Lisa N. allegedly refused to spell out what she wanted, instead berating the bartender for not understanding her order. Typically, Monahan says, customers acknowledge when they’re asking for an unusual drink and provide the recipe.

“One thing I will not tolerate is rudeness to my staff,” she says. “At that point, I took three steps behind the bar, looked at my bartender and said ‘Make her the press and give it to her for free.’”

THE VERDICT

Who’s right in this situation? Putting aside this customer’s reportedly uncivil behavior, the question of bartender knowledge remains. Is it fair to expect a working bartender to know or look up the definition of a press? Or is Ink N Ivy right to rely on customers to supply drink-making instructions? Join the discussion at bit.ly/PCfoodFBgroup.

Never miss a restaurant opening, closing or all the F&B drama you love: Sign up for our weekly Food & Dining newsletter.


Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.