Last Week's Miami burger battle, The Grind, was well attended, had a diverse roster of participating restaurants, and a good cover band. The evening would have been a successful first-time event except for one problem.
Excessive smoke caused by a perfect storm of problems, including the failure of a main A/C unit, made for an uncomfortable evening for many guests. At around 8:30 p.m. (some say earlier), fire marshals shut down the restaurants for initially 15 minutes so smoke could clear. After assessing the situation, the restaurants did not fire up their grills again.
Though the party went on until the scheduled 10 p.m. with many people dancing to the band and making light of the situation, there were people who left early, complaining of the smoke and the lack of food after a point.
The next day, Short Order reported on the event, noting The Grind's Facebook page had many people commenting on a refund. We contacted The Grind's director, Tony Albelo, who was still in the process of cleaning up after the event. He promised he would let Short Order know his official position on refunds as soon as possible.
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This morning, we received the statement from Albelo:
Thank you for your patience. We hear you loud and clear and are aware of your concerns.
When we first started thinking about The Grind, we wanted to create something that focused on the local restaurants and chefs of South Florida. We gathered 30 of the best burgers to battle it out for the title of Best Burger. Circumstances did not allow us to award the main title. However, we were able to tabulate your votes for the "Fan Favorite." If you voted, your vote was counted. We know you love burgers as much as we do, and the South Florida culinary scene is bursting with talent. The Grind is meant to showcase that.
As a first year event, we tried to anticipate any and all issues that might adversely impact our event. We met with a number of different professionals in Miami regarding the locations, dates, public safety, zoning and fire and health issues. We obtained approval from local government officials for the event and did our best to eliminate "Murphy's Law." Unfortunately, there was an issue with the air conditioning and circulation at the event. We apologize for any inconvenience or discomfort this may have caused. We have spent a large amount of time and energy investigating the situation and have been working on a resolution.
There are many pieces to this puzzle, and it took some time to assemble them. We had two different ticketing agents plus a third company who was subcontracted to handle the check-ins. We discussed options with each company and received reports from each company in order to create the best solution possible for everyone. Gathering all this information is important, because we want to be fair. We also want to make sure the people who have legitimate issues are dealt with fairly and separately from those who may just be trying to take advantage.
As we continue to review the situation with vendors, we have come up with a solution to address those customers who are seeking refunds.
If you attended The Grind and felt you did not get your value, please send an email to us at half@TheGrindMiami.com. Your email should contain a brief explanation of your concerns, your name, email address, ticket number and contact number. We will happily issue you a voucher for 50% off next year's event.
If you feel your particular circumstances were unique and that you are entitled to more, please send an email to case@TheGrindMiami.com. We will review each case individually using your ticket number and our check-in time logs. If you wish to voice your concern in person, we have no problem sitting down to discuss further. At the end of the day, we want everyone to be happy.
Our commitment is to local chefs, restaurants, businesses and you! Yes, we received criticism for the smoke, but we don't want to detract from the fact that The Grind delivered great burgers, great drinks and great music for the majority of our guests. We have received emails and messages from restaurant owners and chefs offering their support of this event; not just now, but in the future. That is a source of comfort. Our promise to you as we look forward: We will correct our mistakes, while keeping the focus on the chefs, burgers and overall experience.