Norfolk bars band together to pressure bar crawl company to deliver on promises


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — If the company behind Saturday’s Margarita Crawl doesn’t deliver as promised, it won’t be just angry ticket holders pushing for a refund — but bar owners as well.

“We’re not going to be associated with a company that is going to take your money and say ‘go here, go here’ and you’re not going to get a benefit out of it,” said Ginnele Shonyo on Thursday night.

Shonyo is co-owner of “Southern Eats,” a recently opened bar and restaurant on Monticello Street in downtown Norfolk.

She’s leading the charge to make sure that the poor reputation of one company does not pull down the reputation of Norfolk’s small businesses.

“We are going to try to make this the best we can under the circumstances,” Shonoy said.

Like many, she became aware of a “Margarita Crawl” event planned for Oct. 12 on Facebook.

Bar Crawl Unlimited, a company based in Tucson, Arizona, has sold tickets months in advance for the six-hour event. It promises discounted drinks at five venues downtown, entry to an after-party and free take-home swag for the first 100 people.

On Facebook you can find a lot of comments from people who went to these events all over the country stating much of what was promised never materialized.

A woman who attended a similar event earlier this year in Detroit said she paid $20 for specials at only one bar with no after-party.

As of Thursday night, no location information on where the crawl starts or ends is included on their event page.

Last week, a manager of The Barrel Room said his bar was contacted over the summer by the organizers of Bar Crawl Unlimited to be included in their Margarita Crawl event, but didn’t hear anything since.

The company has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau for failure to respond to six complaints filed against the business in the time it’s been operating.

“Where are they going to go? They are going to show up here in Downtown Norfolk and nobody’s going to have any information on said crawl?” Shonyo said. “I started talking to the other business owners because of [’s] article.”

Shonyo said she and several others got together and concluded that nobody wins if the bars all back out completely.

However, Shonyo said after getting on the phone with a person who identified himself as Bar Crawl Unlimited’s owner, she made it clear they would only allow themselves to be identified with the event if their demands are met.

“Every participant will be getting their cup, they will be getting their koozie they will be getting their lanyard,” Shonyo said. “You’re supposed to create an experience…you need to see a benefit for your buck.”

So, what happens if they don’t follow through? Shonyo said the restaurants will recommend ticket holders call their credit card companies to get the charge canceled.

Bar Crawl Unlimited states they have a no-refund policy.

“I cannot stand by and watch somebody else be taken advantage of,” Shonyo said, going on to say she has spend a lot of extra time working on this.

“We are already talking to the Downtown Norfolk Council about no longer participating in events with no local presence,” Shonyo said. “The money needs to stay here.”

10 On Your Side has reached out to Bar Crawl Unlimited to ask again when they would let people know about the venue location. We have not yet heard back.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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