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Leva, who runs four King Street hot spots with her husband and business partner, Lamar Bonaparte, is featuring the “crown jewel” of their kingdom, Republic Garden & Lounge, on Southern Hospitality.
On the November 28 series debut, fans will get to meet 10 of Leva’s employees who hook up, break up, and engage in friendship drama when they’re off the clock (and, well, sometimes they can’t help but bring their issues to work).
Ahead of the premiere, Leva spoke with The Daily Dish about all things Southern Hospitality, including her policy as a boss on employee relationships, what sets the Charleston nightlife scene apart, and why the show is more akin to Below Deck than it is to Vanderpump Rules.
Leva Bonaparte shares how she handles employee romances (and disagreements!)
With a staff of young, attractive VIP hosts, servers, concierges, and bartenders at Republic, Leva has plenty of experience when it comes to dealing with employees who want to date one another or hang out together outside of work.
Instead of taking an “old school” approach of “pretend[ing] humans aren’t humans,” Leva just advises her employees to keep their PDA and drama off the Republic premises.
“Just keep your stuff outside the gates [of Republic]. Like, if you want to have fights, do them somewhere else when you’re not wearing a Republic T-shirt… I don’t want it in my space. I don’t want it in front of my patrons. I don’t want it to affect my business,” Leva told us. “I understand that [they] are going to be who [they] are.”
And if any staff members do try to cause a scene at the club, Leva said she has eyes and ears everywhere.
“I know far more about them than they think I do,” she added. “I’m not in the scene, but I do know the scene.”
She notes that Southern Hospitality is similar to Below Deck for this reason
While fans will likely look to juxtapose Southern Hospitality with Vanderpump Rules — since both shows feature the people who work at popular restaurants with nightlife scenes — Leva believes another Bravo series is a better fit for comparison.
“When you’re on deck at Republic, there’s no time for dillydallying and all that. It’s chaos. It’s hundreds of people [and] it’s high liability. It’s keeping people safe, it’s keeping the experience elevated,” Leva explained before adding that her club can be a “very gritty, tough, fast, stressful, [and] chaotic business” compared with a restaurant that is focused on serving food. “It’s actually far more like Below Deck to me, in terms of the adrenaline of the business.”
Like the crew members on any Below Deck show, the employees at Republic have to keep the guests out of danger when “booze and egos” get involved.
“They can’t be off their game,” the mom of one added. “When it’s showtime, it’s showtime, and it’s serious.”
Plus, Leva noted, the Republic workers are, for the most part, pursuing careers in the food and hospitality industry.
“When you think about Vanderpump [Rules], it’s L.A. and [the cast members] are sort of trying to get to something, whereas these kids [at Republic] are in what they want to be in. They want to be in hospitality, they want to be opening clubs. Hospitality is a big business in the city we live in.”
The show will highlight a different side of Charleston than Southern Charm
In addition to meeting Republic’s finest employees and getting to see a different side of Leva, Southern Hospitality viewers will get a glimpse of what Charleston’s club scene is really like.
“There is no city that has nightlife like Charleston, and I mean [out of] every city in the USA,” Leva said. “I don’t really think there’s anything comparable to our King Street on any given night.”
Though Southern Charm fans have gotten to know the South Carolina city well, Leva explained that Southern Hospitality will feature more of the “New South,” with an emphasis on “clubs, restaurants, and fashion” instead of the “socialite, old Southern scene.”
“Viewers are going to fall in love with Charleston, and they are going to really love this group of friends because they stay hot, not just physically but also temper-wise,” she concluded.
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