Worth 1000 Words

Worth 1000 Words

CRBJ Photo Error Invites Unwarranted Criticism of James Island Restaurant
By Charlie Morrison I Freelance Journalist

It goes without saying that running a successful restaurant on James Island is no easy task. Running a successful restaurant

Pictured here with his wife Mayra and the couple’s two-and-a-half-year-old son Alan, La Hacienda James Island general manager Juan Pablo Lopez has been forced over the last week, to fight a PR battle the restaurant did not deserve to be embroiled in, after the Charleston Regional Business Journal published a photo of the James Island restaurant in conjunction with a story about a similarly named but entirely different set of restaurants not paying their employees correctly
Pictured here with his wife Mayra and the couple’s two-and-a-half-year-old son Alan, La Hacienda James Island general manager Juan Pablo Lopez has been forced over the last week, to fight a PR battle the restaurant did not deserve to be embroiled in, after the Charleston Regional Business Journal published a photo of the James Island restaurant in conjunction with a story about a similarly named but entirely different set of restaurants not paying their employees correctly

on Folly Rd. no less, for two solid decades well that is nearly unheard of on James Island, nearly unheard of because people like La Hacienda James Island owner Ramon Macias has done it.

And while the secret to La Hacienda James Island’s success can be traced to the fact that the food, the décor, the prices largely fit James Island’s generally blue-collar lifestyle, the restaurant too has incurred no negative publicity in its two decades, no negative publicity that is until this past week, when unbeknownst to the ownership at the James Island La Hacienda, the restaurant was wrongly characterized in a story by the Charleston Regional Business Journal (CRBJ) as being part of a labor scandal.

On April 20, the CRBJ ran a story online detailing a case in which the US. District Court fined the owners of the La Hacienda restaurant chain for improper labor practices, a case alleging that restaurant chain owners Antonio Ayala and Jaime Tinoco had been in effect, shorting their restaurant staff their proper wages. Where the CRBJ erred, was in their choice of an accompanying photo. The photo they ran with the story, both on the paper’s website and their social media feeds, depicted the James Island La Hacienda restaurant, which is an entirely different company, owned privately by Ramon Macias.

It wasn’t until Tuesday, April 25 that restaurant general manager Juan Pablo Lopez even discovered the error, pointed out to him by friend and restaurant customer Terri Shurm. “I looked over and saw her face, which said ‘something bad has happened over here.’ She asked what we were going to do about the situation, and I said ‘what situation?’ That’s when she showed me the website,” says Lopez.

“I talked to Ramon Macias, the owner, and he didn’t know what to do. We discussed doing something legal but we didn’t want to play hardball with them, we thought we could lose business … A legal fight could take years,” he continues.

“I know everyone makes mistakes but that’s a big one. How can that happen if in the article you list the La Hacienda locations affected by the lawsuit and we’re not one of them?”

“I know everyone makes mistakes but that’s a big one. How can that happen if in the article you list the La Hacienda locations affected by the lawsuit and we’re not one of them?”

Lopez’ point is well-taken too, as the CRBJ article, written by reporter Ashley Heffernan, lists the thirteen restaurants affected by the legal decision, the thirteen businesses owned by Ayala and Tinoco without mentioning “La Hacienda James Island, Inc.” or “La Hacienda, Inc.” the two business owned by Macias. That being said, there is a connection between the respective business owners. Ayala and Macias are brothers-in-law.

Unfortunately, the mistake has had an effect, as it leaked onto the James Island restaurant’s social media pages in the form of negative comments erroneously directed at the James Island restaurant. On Facebook, one commentator urged the restaurant to “treat their people better.”

For their part, the CRBJ has admitted the mistake done everything in their power to correct the error. “It was a mistake, an unfortunate mistake,” said CRBJ managing editor Andy Owens in an interview with JIM. “After verifying the mistake we immediately took down the photo (from their website, on Tuesday, April 25). We ran a correction online immediately, and also ran a correction in (the Wednesday, April 27 Daily Journal) our hard copy edition as well.”

Lopez, who like his brother before him Fernando Lopez manages the restaurant for Macias on a day-to-day business, has kept a positive attitude about the situation. Though he was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico, Lopez has been a resident of James Island since 2002 and the general manager of La Hacienda James Island for the last three years, and he knows his customers.

“Ninety percent of our customers know we aren’t related to the other La Haciendas. But while the mistake maybe hasn’t made a big difference with our customers, it’s the principle of the matter,” he says before breaking into a hearty chuckle. He laughs when telling of a prophetic conversation he began having with Macias years ago. “I’ve been asking him for over two years to change the name, because something like this could affect us,” he laughs. “And here we are.”

             La Hacienda James Island has been independently operated by Ramon Macias at the restaurant’s 808 Folly Rd. location since 1996. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving lunch and dinner. You can give the restaurant a call at 406-4919 or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/La-Hacienda-Mexican-Restaurant-of-James-Island.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s