Friday, August 12, 2011

Charleston Blogger Meet Up Recap

Last night was a good way.

I showed up to Social Wine Bar downtown (yes, I took a cab...I was that girl) all by my lonesome, not really knowing anyone except through their blogs.

I'll admit, I felt like I was a really creepy person as I gushed and exclaimed, "I love your blog" or "you look just like your blog picture" or "oh my gosh, remember when you posted that? ha ha ha... that was sooo funny!" or "How's so and so?" referring to someone written in their blog.

The best awkward moment of the night was when I walked up to Hungry Meets Healthy blogger Christina and said, "Well I guess I'm your hero now!" She looked at me like I had just spoken Russian... "I'm sorry..what?", she said. I then explained to her I was referring to her comment on my blog from yesterday's post that if I took a cab to the meet up, I would be her hero. "Oh!" she said, probably vaguely remembering... I think her look of pity was warranted, lol.

Yes, I was that person last night... Yet, all of these girls were super nice to me (tolerating me?) AND one lovely blogger even offered me a ride home (to my complete shame, but gratefulness) so I wouldn't have to cab it back also.

Saying it was nice to meet everyone is a vast understatement -- I really did enjoy it. It was definitely surreal meeting in person the bloggers I've followed for some time now, but it was very cool to discover that they are all down to earth, real people and that I have a lot in common with some of them.

I like that Kim, from Keller Kreative, and I discovered that we have several mutual friends in common and could discuss mutual friend drama as if WE had been friends for years. I also was tickled (and Bradley, my fiance will be so excited) to hear that she knew about my boyfriend's crazy annual birthday party...Punchfest. Lol. And I may have told her more than once to a) write a DIY book and b) monetize the sh*t out of her blog... well...she needs to!

Me and Kim. Me=sweating w/ shiny forehead and bleh hair.
I also asked Chastity of Look, Linger, Love when her book was being published? I would buy it! And sorry again for mentioning something to someone about something... you know what I'm talking about. {rolling eyes at myself} Sometimes I should just not try to be helpful, lol.

I'm not going to hide the fact that yes, Amanda, I loved squealing with you about True Blood and our shared love for book 4 and Eric Northman. And I'm not embarrassed that I asked you about Game of Thrones...and even after this nerdy exchange, you STILL offered me a ride home. Thank you! And you totally scored bonus points with me in the car when you basically said, "I didn't just throw this outfit on...I had to plan it! This took time." which I said, "Me toooo!".

And I may or may not have suggested SEVERAL times to Christina to name drop her blog being the Best of Charleston so we could get better (or free?) service from Social Wine Bar.... more on THAT later.

And I may or may not have yelled at Megan, "SIT DOWN!" as she was trying to politely excuse herself from dinner to leave...just so I could get this picture. But I got to tell her in person what an amazing job she's doing on decorating her house. Hopefully I didn't scare her too much when I demanded asked her to sit down. Look how cute the picture is... that might make it better. :)

I was flattered when after I asked Mary Loyal about how newlywed life was going, she promptly replied, "It's great! But I can't wait for you to have your wedding and to experience it all!" There is something so genuine about her. Love her...and I knew I would because I love her blog.

I also got to meet and chat with other bloggers whose blogs I follow (or will start following asap)... including Ashton, Natalie (who upon meeting her I gushed, "OMG, I just started following you today!" I'm sooo lame), Ashley, Caycee, Madison, Kelley and Whitney.

Noted several times throughout night by several of us that there are a lot of BLONDE bloggers in Charleston.

It was a fun night of socializing, wine, and dinner...and when the remaining 8 of us left after dinner, I may or may not have hugged each and every girl.


WARNING: The rest of this post is about Social Wine Bar....and it's not pretty. Ye be warned!

Social Wine Bar... it was my suggestion as the 'perfect location' when Kim first brought up the idea of a meet up. I used to frequent it last year for happy hours and I loved their happy hour appetizers and wine selection -- so it just seemed the right place.

Disclaimer: Most of the other girls are way nicer than me and have decided to not even mention the Social experience in their posts...but I was already somewhat annoyed with Social for another reason, so last night's experience has fueled my fire...and if you read my blog, I'm not necessarily a keep-my-opinion-to-myself kind of girl.

Background: My sister can't attend my official Bachelorette in Vegas (the whole just had a baby thing), so we're going to do a girls' dinner and going out in Charleston one night in October. After I suggested Social to Kim for the meet up, my older sister emailed me and asked me where we should do the Charleston Bach dinner that has a private space in Charleston... so... I suggested Social.

Mistake. My sister emailed last week and was basically told that to rent the private loft area, we would have to pay $150. My sister let them know there would be almost 20 of us, drinking and eating dinner -- could they just waive the fee in return for us eating dinner, drinks, etc. The email she got back was..well... I didn't appreciate the tone...and she was basically told that if they waived the fee, our group would have to spend at least $500. Wha??? How is that even remotely close to $150...and she was also told late October is their 'busy season'. Since when is October tourist season for Charleston?

So I did what I always do when I'm mad at lackluster customer service, I tweeted about it. To which Social responded, "There must be a misunderstanding. Please call us." To which I responded, "No thanks, taking my Bach dinner to a place like JPaulz that offers spaces for free."

So Social emails my sister and says "Hey we saw some tweets about this and wanted to explain...", which they really shouldn't have, because they basically explained that they told her the pricing because they are trying to keep Social 'upscale' and didn't want a crazy Bachelorette party at their restaurant. So essentially they were trying to price her out because she said Bachelorette party...but after seeing my tweet and seeing I'm a local and not a crazy Bach party from out of town, they were trying to make amends.

So I emailed the guy back expressing my disappointment, etc. and basically left the ball in his court saying, "Let me know what Social can do for us."

I never heard back.

This was last Friday. So I decided to confront the manager when we did our blogger meet up at Social and just say (sweetly of course), "Hey, I sent you an email - never heard back... what's up?"

Flash forward to this week -- I assumed that Social would, of course, treat a group of local bloggers better than they treated my sister and myself. And when Kim told me Social was giving us their loft private space (waived the $150 fee), I was curious to see what it looked like and see if this whole Social thing was really worth the fight.

However, now I can safely say after our experience last night, no fight is necessary.

First... the 'Loft'. I'm not sure you can even call it a 'Loft'. It's about the size of a master bathroom...a modest master bathroom. With couches and tables added on the outside, we were all somewhat crowded in the space -- and there wasn't many of us. I can't even picture 20 girls eating a sit down meal up there.

And the icing on the was steaming up there! We were taking turns standing in front of the air vent. In between conversations, we would mention, "Wow, it's really hot up here!" or to my relief, "I'm sweating down my back!" to which I replied, "Oh thank God, I'm not the only one...I'm dying!". So much for curling my hair! This explains my appearance in the picture earlier in the post...drab hair and shiny forehead! I look even especially awful in the picture on Kim's post..yikes! I hope that's not how you ladies remember me!

While I appreciate Social giving us their 'upscale' 'Loft' for free (sidenote: they took Kim's card # and told her if we didn't show up, the $150 would be charged to her card..rude), I was somewhat surprised they didn't offer any special discounts or free apps for us to sample. If you're a small business in a town known for restaurants and tourism, and you have almost 20 popular bloggers meeting at your restaurant (including the Best Local Blog of Charleston - name dropping!), you think they would capitalize on that fact and wine and dine these ladies so that they all write glowing blog posts about your business, the food, the when a tourist searches "best happy hour in Charleston" or some other equivalent, they find these blog posts and then come to your restaurant... but no, we were corralled in the 'Loft' and somewhat ignored.

It just amazes me how businesses still don't get the power of Social Media..but that's a post for another day.

So after about an hour or so, 8 of us decided to stay and eat dinner. We asked about a table for 8 (glancing down at an almost empty dining area) and were told the wait would be an hour (again we glance down at several empty tables). "Um...OK." So we all decide to venture somewhere else downtown with less of a wait and thus started to close out our tabs...

...and all of a sudden, while we were obviously about to take our business elsewhere, a table magically appears and they can sit us for dinner! So we all decide, "Ok, we're here, let's stay."

Dinner was good - the pizza's (which we all had) at Social are good, I'll give them that. But it took quite some time to get them...not to mention that it took forever to get a glass of wine...which is very important to me, more so than the pizza. :)

After dinner, a few people had some issues on their bills - after another long wait, it was fixed to a too little, too late apology from management. We grabbed our to-go boxes and our purses and all headed home.

I admittedly feel guilty for suggesting Social for this meet up and then the experience being less than worthy...and I feel slightly guilty for this scathing review of Social which I know the other girls are too nice to post...but because of my other experience with them, I can't keep quiet. Guess I'll be calling JPaulz after all to schedule my Bach dinner/drinks/shower....

Despite the experience of the location, it didn't damper the event and the fact that we all had a great time getting to know one another. I'm hoping we can make this a regular occurrence (someone else pick the location next time!) and continue to network, build a blogger community in the area, and be great friends (in real life, not just on the internet! Ha!). :)

And if you've made it this far in reading this post...then I crown you "Best Local Blog Reader of Charleston Blogs"... feel free to name drop that as needed, but unfortunately it probably won't get you anything! :)

Have a great weekend... I'll be trying out Basil in Mt. P tonight and then going where the night takes me... Cheers!


Christina said...

haha!! this post was awesome. social needs help. so great to meet you though!!! :) you should post some pics on facebook! :)

Erica said...

You are too cute! Glad you had fun. I've never been to social....doesnt sound like I'm missing much....

Kelley said...

Great POST!! Very nice to meet you last Night. Sorry if I was hogging all the AC but there was no bubbly for me to help me with the heat!!

Unknown said...

WOW! Sounds like ya'll had a great time! I have never been to Social but I guess I will not be trying it if they gave ya'll that bad of customer service!

Kim @ keller-creative said...

Thank you for writing that post Christy (although I kinda look like a 300 lb gorilla in those pictures.. especially with sweat pouring out of me). EVERYTHING you said was dead on.

Whitney @ justacountry-girl said...

love everything about this post! my favorite is that you took the cab downtown by yourself. you are my kinda girl :)

Token Yankee said...

Glad you had fun despite the lackluster experience. I always wish I lived in a town that had a lot of bloggers!

Carly Messmer said...

Wish I could have met y'all! Sorry to hear about the Social experience. I've always had a good time there, but I guess it was with a smaller group.

Chassity (Look Linger Love) said...

What a well thougth out post. It was so great meeting you. And stop worrying about choosing Social, I was all about it too.

Rebecca said...

Everyone looked so beautiful at the meet up! But gosh, that restaurant seemed so rude! =[

Brittany said...

I also used to love Social and have had similar experiences with them, namely while trying to plan dinner for one of my good friend's bachelorette party a couple weekends ago. They actually told me on the phone while I was making reservations to "please don't wear or bring anything inappropriate" I burst out laughing and asked like what? She said they had a bachelorette party bring in a blow-up penis and pass it around the table. I ended up canceling our reservation because they couldn't accommodate more than 16 (we had 17 girls) in the dining area.

I'm also a Charleston blogger and am sad I couldn't make the meet-up but hope to be able to join everyone for the next one!

Ruth said...

Glad y'all had fun even with the restaurant being so horrible.

Amanda said...

This post is amazing!! I got invited to dinner there the next night, decided to go, and got the SAME waitress and she recognized me! It was so nice meeting you and talking about True Blood..can't wait to do it again soon!!

Jaye said...

Thank you for the "real lowdown" on Social. I am a firm believer that the best advertising is word of mouth. Glad you girls had a great time meeting each other. Sorry for the lame atmosphere, but next time, you know it will have to be better!