Restaurants discuss impacts of reality show exposure

Restaurants discuss reality show impacts

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The buzz about Bravo's "Southern Charm" television show intensifies. Some Lowcountry residents aren't too happy that their favorite restaurants are being exposed in a racy reality show filmed in Charleston. But do the business benefits outweigh the concern?

Jonathan Kish, CEO of 82 Queen, says when he got a call about one year ago from Bravo executives, he was excited to film two scenes at his restaurant for the reality show.

Kish says producers called again the morning of filming and said two people would be in to shoot a lunch scene.

A scene that, he recalls, looking more like a blind date then a meal between two friends. Kish says the other customers dining at the time were very interested in the cameras being there.

"There was a lot of interest from the other patrons, nobody was upset or disturbed by it at all," said Kish. "I think maybe one person didn't want to be on camera."

Now that the episodes have aired, Kish is hearing about it from his customers.

"We've got some customers who think it's great," said Kish. "Then, there's some of our other customers who are not happy with the show and so they're not happy with us for being on the show."

Kish says some of his older, frequent customers are protective of their hometown and haven't embraced exposing the places they frequent.

"I think their biggest concern is they're concerned about how Charleston is portrayed," said Kish.

82 Queen isn't the only establishment evaluating their decision to be featured on the show. Taco Boy on Huger St. was also spotted during a scene.

"I can understand how some of the locals are kind of put off by the way we were portrayed on television, but I don't think that affects the business," said John Lentz, general manager at Taco Boy.

Lentz says the crew members were very nice, and some people actually stayed at the restaurant just to watch the show being filmed.

Lentz says, so far, they haven't gotten any negative feedback from their customers. He only sees the exposure as a positive.

"Being part of the scene is always a bonus, I think, in our eyes," said Lentz.

Despite a bit of discontent from some customers, Kish agrees.

"I think on the company itself, thus far, it's been positive," said Kish. "So yes, there's been concerns but we've actually seen a little bit of an increase in business. So, its hard to argue with."

Kish says compared to this time last year, 82 Queen has seen an increase in business. He thinks it may have something to do with the show's promotion.

"Southern Charm" also filmed at Husk, Bowen's Island Restaurant and Republic on King Street.

Live 5 spoke to some of these restaurants as well and many said about the same thing - the cast was pleasant and customer responses have been good. However, some are waiting to see how they feel about it, as more episodes roll out.

Copyright WCSC 2014. All rights reserved.