Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Rant on the Taste of Decatur

Saturday marked the Taste of Decatur, an opportunity for the metro area to come to this little slice of heaven and sample the yumminess that we "locals" get to taste on a regular basis. When the event was being publicized during the week, nearly every restaurant in town was listed on the "Venues" page. For the cost of admission, you could go to those restaurants and get…

Something.

Maybe it should've been my first clue that something was up with the festival when I scoured the Taste of Decatur website and couldn't find any specifics on just what I was getting for my money. None of the usual Decatur publicity suspects had heard of the event, and there were no posted or other advertising to indicate that the festival was even happening. I wasn't alone in my skepticism, but LivingSocial.com's half-off special on admission on Thursday was too much to ignore. And so I bought tickets for Cecilia and myself.

By Friday evening, things were starting to get strange. The restaurant list on the website was inexplicably cut to nearly half its original size. The remaining restaurants were offering specials like 20% off a meal or a BOGO deal on entrees or appetizers. Tasty to be sure, but not exactly "Festival" material. Still, my money was spent, so Cecilia and I ventured on.

By Saturday afternoon, it became clear that the whole event had come unraveled. While some of the restaurants were participating as advertised, others were not. One place insisted that the event was canceled. Another said they hadn’t heard anything from the organizers until the day before, and that was too late for them to offer any kind of special. (Curiously, both restaurants remained on the list throughout the day only to be removed sometime in the late afternoon.)

Finally, around 4:00 PM, the organizers broke their silence with this tweet:

Sorry 2 all those who bought tix from Livingsocial.com. We r'nt given ur email addys to contact u about change to event...NOT CANCELED

Huh?

Look, I might be able buy the fact that you didn't have my e-mail. But you had Facebook, Twitter, and a bunch of blogs that would’ve been happy to get out the news of the "change to event." Instead, you said nothing while allegations of a scam were thrown about. The restaurants were twisting in the wind, and the patrons were getting annoyed. Those of us who live here know better, but people from outside Decatur are liable to see this as a bad reflection on the restaurants here. It's tough enough in the restaurant business these days without this kind of bad publicity.

And the damage is not limited to this. Googling "Taste of Decatur" leads to a number of results for the Garden of Eatin', a completely unrelated event that serves as a major fundraiser for the Decatur Cooperative Ministry. If people confuse the outright failure of today with that event, there will be more than just lost revenue for restaurants at stake.

A fellow blogger stated that the organizers were faulting LivingSocial for the problems today. In my opinion, this doesn't fly. I find it hard to believe that LivingSocial took over the website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for Taste of Decatur and prevented any updates as was being suggested. Even if they did, there was nothing to stop a second account from being created to disseminate information or a post to one of the more widely ready Decatur blogs.

As for me, I made the best of the day that I could. I got to spend some much needed time with my lovely wife. We made our first foray to Sammiches and Stuff for lunch. I was able to enjoy some of the alcoholic concoctions at Leon’s (that fruity drink was metro, dammit, not girly). Hey, I even managed to get a bar seat at the Brick Store and enjoy a nice Malheur 10 before the usual Saturday hordes invaded the place.

To the venues that opted to press on with the specials in spite of the uncertainty, my appreciation. I’m going to refrain from naming names here because I wasn't able to visit all of the establishments. I'm afraid that mentioning places that didn't participate in the end will be construed as criticism of those restaurants, and this is not my intent.

To the organizers of the Taste of Decatur, I offer you a venue to rebut anything I've said here or offer any information. We aren’t the biggest fish in the pond here at Random Oenophile Enterprises, but we’re more than happy to offer an open mind to anything you say.

Rant over.

Dave Kell at the inDecatur blog had a similar experience. For his thoughts, click here For the Decatur News Online article by Cecilia, go here.

6 comments:

Wendy said...

Thanks for writing this up. You're right, this is not good for Decatur and/or other legitimate events.

Reposting from my blog:

I love the fact that now, when you have a bad customer experience, you can share it and find out, hey, you weren't the only one.

My experience Saturday at the Taste of Decatur "festival":

Taste of Decatur Not So Tasty
http://decaturnewsonline.com/news/article_6dce19f8-5071-11df-ad54-001cc4c03286.html

And here are multiple blogs backing me up:

Taste of Decatur Was a FUBAR from the Get-Go to the Letdown
http://airbornecombatengineer.typepad.com/in_decatur/2010/04/taste-of-decatur-was-a-fubar-from-the-get-go-to-the-letdown.html

A Rant on Taste of Decatur
http://random-oenophile.blogspot.com/2010/04/rant-on-taste-of-decatur.html

Taste of Decatur: How not to organize an event 101
http://pandasandcupcakes.com/?p=616

And here's a news article:

Event Leaves Bad Taste in Decatur's Mouth
http://decaturnewsonline.com/news/article_6dce19f8-5071-11df-ad54-001cc4c03286.html

Wiebke said...

Correction to my post above:

First link should be:
http://www.decaturmetro.com/2010/04/25/taste-of-decatur-not-so-tasty/

BSP said...

Please point out to your readership that Mr. Stanley's event was not the same as the very successful 14-year running event called the "Garden of Eatin: A Taste of Decatur" which is presented every year by the Decatur Cooperative Ministry (a local non-profit serving the needs of the homeless). I hope Mr. Stanley has not left a bad taste in our community for the real Taste of Decatur event which will be presented on September 25th. See http://www.decaturcooperativeministry.org/tasteofdecatur/home.htm

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks for your comment and for the link, Wendy! I'm glad this fiasco hasn't turned you off of Decatur.

BSP, I call your attention to the following paragraph in the original post. Hubby and I were concerned about this as well, which is why he was sure to mention it, as I did in the DNO article:

And the damage is not limited to this. Googling "Taste of Decatur" leads to a number of results for the Garden of Eatin', a completely unrelated event that serves as a major fundraiser for the Decatur Cooperative Ministry. If people confuse the outright failure of today with that event, there will be more than just lost revenue for restaurants at stake.

Dave Kell also made sure to point out that it's a different event in his blog post.

--Cecilia

cupcake said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences as well, I was also annoyed and disappointed at this so-called event.

I just took a look at their website where you can get this discount card - FREE. They list the businesses that are offering incentives - none are in Decatur, from what I can tell. Also, each says "click here for TAG card incentive for *insert business name*". No special/discount/incentive listed for any of them!

I'm a Smyrna resident and skipped my town's festival to check this one out this year. :(

BSP said...

The person/entity that perpetrated the "Taste of Decatur" on our community last weekend has now changed the name of that website to "Tour of Decatur". Be warned...the URL is still the same (www.tasteofdecatur.com) so it's the same person/entity who now planning another questionable event. Also, this Total Access Guide (TAG/MAG) and Stanley Ellis doesn't seem to have any physical address. Go ahead...try to find one. As the saying goes: fool me once shame on you...fool me twice...I'm an idiot.