CigarDiva Review: Shelly's Back Room - Washington, DC

Worst Experience I've Had...Horrible Customer Service!

Let me tell you how much I hate Shelly's (and yes, 'hate' is a strong word to use!)... I just typed my entire blog post and was trying to resize the logo so I could add it, when the cursor just froze! I lost the entire blog post and am having to start this all over from scratch. So, I'm feeling about the same way I did when I visited Shelly's on Saturday, March 3rd and had the worst experience of my life at a cigar lounge.

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My friend and I went there after checking out a couple of venues for upcoming corporate events I was planning for my job. We wanted to end a great day with a good smoke. Shelly's is not my favorite place to go, but it was the closest to where we were in DC. 

Let me take a moment to preface my story by saying that:

  1. We've both been to Shelly's before and I'd been there at least 2-3 times with diverse groups of people.

  2. Shelly's doesn't have the best of reputations among my cigar friends who are minorities. 

  3. Shelly's is "known" (at least in the circles I run in and come across) for being a bit on the "snoody" side and overpriced.

So, we go to Shelly's around 5:30-6:00 pm and we're standing in the entry waiting to be seated for at least 5-10 minutes. My friend finally had to go find someone to seat us. This young Asian girl comes out and proceeds to try seating us in the front near the cold, draft windows. Ummm, No...that's not where we wanted to sit and we didn't come there to eat. We just wanted to chill, enjoy smoking a cigar and maybe have a drink or two with it. We saw these empty, big leather chairs along with wall in the main area and asked if we could sit there. She was like "Fine, you can sit wherever you'd like." So, we grabbed a couple of those and pulled out our sticks.

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About 20-30 minutes goes by and NO ONE came to ask us if we wanted anything to drink, eat or needed anything! We observed others coming in and getting served right away. In fact, a table of four came in and was seated right in front of my friend less than 3 feet and they were taken care of right away. Then, an African American gentleman came and asked if he could sit in the comfy chair next to me and before his booty could touch his chair another female Asian server asked him what he wanted to drink. So when she left, I turned to him and asked him if he was a "regular" there. He said he went there often and I proceeded to tell him our experience up to that point. He was surprised and tried saying maybe they didn't see us sitting there. I told him more than one of those female Asian servers looked me dead in my face and kept it moving. Not one of them came over to check on us. 

Females can sense and know when shade is being thrown much like men know when another man is pushing up on his woman. Well, my shade-o-meter was thru the roof that day! Lol

This gentleman sitting next to me said he'd call one of them over and let him know 'his friends' need a drink. When he did, she looked at him, nodded her head and then left and went to take of another table of four who had sat down in front of us. He was SHOCKED by the blatant disrespect! Eventually, he got a different server's attention and she came over - we FINALLY got our drink order taken. By now, it's like 40-45 minutes into our visit!

By now, I'm just pissed off and wanting to know who the heck the manager is on duty. All the servers were Asian and all but one female. Needless to say, there was a language barrier, BUT there didn't seem to be one enough for them to treat others the same way. I saw them happily greet some customers and even hug one or two. So clearly, they are capable of providing decent customer service. 

We finally get our drinks but by then we are just DONE and ready to leave! I had gone to the bathroom and noticed there was an African American man working behind the bar. I thought he was the bar tender or at least another server. I asked my friend to go and ask him who the manager was on duty. Come to find out that young man was the manager and his name was Derrick. Now, he didn't tell Derrick anything about our experience. Instead, he told Derrick that I was a lifestyle blogger and I was going to do a review on Shelly's so I wanted to talk to him before we left.

We finished our drinks and before we left I went up to the bar and patiently waited for Derrick to finish making some drinks. I told him who I was, gave him a SpunkyDiva Diaries business card and told him about our horrible experience. He listened, asked what time we got there and asked where we were with our drinks. He said that around the time we arrived there was a shift change or something...that maybe we were "missed" in the changeover. I then asked him WHY did more than one of these young Asian chicks look me dead in my eye, serve EVERYONE around us and not think once to come check on us?!?! For that, he had no answer, but I appreciated his time and that he said he'd go ask the servers "up front" what happened. 

Before we could leave, one of the Asian server chicks came over to ask us "what happened" and she tried apologizing for neglecting us. Yeah, that's nice and all, but too little too late. Thank you Derrick for being a GOOD manager on duty and for taking care of our drinks bill.

I hope that the customer service improves. I also hope that some of the other complaints about how minorities/minority groups are treated heard & addressed.  After sharing my story on social media and at my local cigar lounge, some of my cigar brothers have told me that they refuse to have anything else to do with Shelly's because of how they've been treated.

Personally, I will never go back to Shelly's and while I've had my own experiences at TG Cigar's (their humidor needs to be recalibrated because it dries out cigars that they make you buy which then unravel when you cut & try to smoke them), I'd pick TG's (even without any food offerings) or Ozio's over Shelly's any day!