In the end, the venue was the deciding factor. Southern Beauty's party was being held at Southern Hospitality, the New York restaurant started by Mr. SexyBack himself, Justin Timberlake.
Let me say this, Mr. Timberlake: You owe me.
To be clear, the Southern Beauty crew—which seemed to consist of half the state of Alabama—knows how to throw a party. As one of the speakers at the event, they'd snagged Miss U.S.A., Rachel Smith, who hails from Tennessee. For entertainment, they'd gotten country music star Laura Bryna, whose hair is about as tall as she is. Bryna joked about her love of hairspray and glitter and even sang "Happy Birthday" to Southern Beauty Director of Corporate Relations Amy Opie. Opie, by the way, was refreshingly candid about their move from regional to national circulation (now about 100,000), about their ad pages ("about where we want them"), and subscriptions ("not quite there"). And Southern Beauty certainly knows how to fill a gift bag, judging by the giddy reactions of the women leaving the joint with arms full of lip gloss and such from the likes of Borghese, Chambord, Dior, Clinique, Estée Lauder and a host of other highfalutin lady-prettifying-product marketers.
But now some words for JT. I'm not going to criticize your dried-out attempt at pulled pork, as I understand it's not fair to judge a restaurant based on a catered party. I'm not going to whine that your restaurant in reality seemed a lot smaller than the one seen in the Pepsi Super Bowl spot. (I think two things happened, there: 1) Some women thought you were going to be there and 2) A lot of men knew there were going to be a lot of pretty Southern women in one spot.) But, young man, I do think you need to instruct your staff—especially the folks working the coat check—in the simple arts of competence and, more important, hospitality. And apologize to Southern Beauty while you're at it!