Dine With a Purpose

This Charleston-based culinary club is not only setting trends, but they are also making a difference in their community. Here’s how TastemakersCHS is taking over the restaurant scene.

Group Shot 2 Photo Credit Libby Williams Photography At Le Farfalle

Social media is a world that breeds superficiality; paid advertising, partnerships with ulterior motives, photoshop, filters, enhancements, stagings and plastics. Despite this, there are some groups working hard to use platforms for good. For instance, this local, Charleston-based group just hit the $20,000 mark in non-profit donations—and is still counting.

TastemakersCHS is Charleston’s culinary social media club, connecting restaurants, influencers and non-profits under one umbrella. “I started the group in 2016 with two missions in mind,” said TastemakersCHS founder, Charlotte Berger (of CharlotteBergerPR). “One: to provide (free) social media promotion to Charleston’s culinary scene and let locals know about some great spots to eat/drink, and two: to bring funds and awareness to the city’s incredibly impactful and under-the-radar nonprofits. I wanted to use the power of social media to go beyond just the typical pizza and cheeseburger posts, and dig deeper to use our combined following to give back to a city we all love so much.”

Group Shot 1

This March, TastemakersCHS saw Charleston Waterkeepers join forces with Holy City Brewing and Wiki Wiki Sandbar, who each sponsored give-back dishes and drinks.

TastemakersCHS has up to 25 members with a combined reach on Instagram of over 300k followers—this way, influencers with significant platforms are able to help promote great local business as well as local charities. The group has helped raise $20,000 for about 17 local nonprofits—with missions ranging from helping to feed the homeless and end human trafficking, to bettering education for children with special needs and providing fresh produce to under-privileged neighborhoods.

“I noticed [the nonprofits reaching out to me] didn’t have much social media help and were under-the-radar, but were doing some really awesome things in the city—they didn’t necessarily have the budget for any full-time marketing or agency. I thought this would be a great way to give them a platform through social media and loop them in with this group,” said Berger.

Once paired with a nonprofit, the restaurants agree to pick one dish or drink from their menu and donate $1 of every order for 30 days to a TastemakersCHS charity. 

Charleston Waterkeepers

TastemakersCHS featured Charleston Waterkeeper as the monthly nonprofit partnership. Charleston Waterkeeper was founded in 2009 to protect and restore Charleston’s waterways for our community and for future generations. “We do that through an effective mix of boots-on-the-water stewardship and data-driven advocacy designed to protect your right to clean water for fishing and swimming. Simply put, we are watchdogs, stewards, and defenders for clean water.”

Charleston Waterkeepers2

Berger acknowledged, “Not everyone right now is financially able to give back. I think at the end of the day I just want to help some of these restaurants that are really struggling with promotion… But it’s been cool because some of the restaurants have adopted ongoing partnerships with the nonprofits.”

The symbiotic nature of these PR-partnerships is refreshing and honest. In a time when businesses are struggling—particularly restaurants and charitable organizations—TastemakersCHS is able to give these amazing local businesses a life raft of sorts in terms of advertising. The group is a testament to the innovative and vibrant nature of the Charleston culinary scene that has exploded in the last few years. 

Crispy Fish Sandwich Wiki Wiki Sand Bar Photo Credit Girleatscharleston On Instagram

The crispy fish sandwich was the featured give-back dish by Wiki Wiki Sand Bar. Photo credit:@GirlEatsCharleston on Instagram

Wiki Wiki Sandbar

Wiki Wiki Sandbar was one of March’s participants in TastemakersCHS’s give-back program.

How can we non-influencer, non-restaurant industry folks get involved in this exciting initiative? It’s as easy as dining at (your favorite) participating restaurants! Berger encourages checking on IG (link here) for current give-backs and where you can dine to donate. Additionally, she encourages anyone to check out TastemakersCHS’s partnered nonprofits to get involved on a more personal level, whether it’s volunteering or directly donating to the cause. She added, “If you do [visit a participating restaurant], upload a photo, post on your social media, give them that support and spread the word. And with the nonprofits, volunteering or donating is great, as well as posting about them on social media or sharing them with friends—that sort of thing. We’re looking to raise awareness and spread the word.”

Next time you’re looking for a great new restaurant to try or searching for your next happy-hour hotspot, be sure to check out @tastemakerschs in IG for inspiration. Make your meal count and dine with a purpose simply by heading out on the town. To learn more about participating restaurants and charities, head to tastemakerschs.com for more content!

Holy City Brewing

Holy City Brewing also participated in a TastemakersCHS-facilitated give-back to Charleston Waterkeeper, donating $1 from every Lo Boy sandwich sale.

Holy City Beer

Photo: Holy City Beer

Lo Boy At Holy City Brewing

Photo: Lo Boy At Holy City Brewing