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.
A Charleston-area resident whose email address identifies him as an avid tennis player bypassed Yelp and brought his dining dilemma directly to The Post and Courier. According to his e-mail message, he and his husband “love to go out and try new dishes and drinks at different places around town.”
Mex 1 Coastal Cantina in 2012 opened its first location in the Avondale section of West Ashley. The restaurant now has additional outlets in Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, all of which offer a Baja-influenced menu of tacos, rice bowls and tequila drinks.
With so many restaurants from which to choose in the Charleston area, our plaintiff and his husband use social media to guide their dining decisions. They follow various bloggers and Instagrammers, in addition to corporate accounts, keeping an eye out for attractive dishes and drinks.
In December, they came across a fetching Christmas margarita in Mex 1’s Instagram feed. The drink was described as featuring “blackberry brandy, pomegranate juice and…a cinnamon sugar rim.” In the picture, the cocktail was garnished with a pair of sugared and skewered blackberries, encircled by a curled ribbon of lime rind.
The couple headed out to try it.
But “the object in the post was far from (how) it appeared in person,” the disappointed customer reports. “They definitely over-promised and undelivered: It was missing the garnishes and sugar rim.”
Still, he continues, they were charged full price for the unexpectedly plain drink.
“When we contacted their beverage/marketing manager it was met with an ‘oh well’ (as) it was just done for a photo shoot,” he says. “We don’t think that is an acceptable excuse as it is fooling consumers who want what they see posted.”
Mex 1’s marketing and beverage director confirms the cocktail shared on Instagram was created for a Skirt magazine shoot. “Since it was a holiday theme, we went all out on garnishes and decor for photography sake,” Morgan Hurley says. “When it comes down to speed of service and restaurant logistics, this particular garnish wasn’t scalable, so we went with another option.”
In other words, the bartenders never intended to serve a lime twist and berries to every customer.
“Customers can still expect the cinnamon sugar rim, which is what accentuates the flavor profile of the drink,” he says. “Unfortunately, this was left off of (his) cocktail.”
Hurley says he has apologized to the customer and added, “As we continue to create specialty cocktails, we will definitely be more aware moving forward (about) what we share on our channels.”
Who’s right in this situation? Is it legit for a restaurant to show off the creativity it musters exclusively for photo shoots? Or should it confine its social media images to what’s actually available to customers? Join the discussion at bit.ly/PCfoodFBgroup.