COLUMBIA, SC – An ice cream shop and restaurant in Orangeburg is being heavily criticized by opponents of the Confederate flag because a large one flies at the corner of the property. The problem is, the restaurant owners don’t own that property and can’t do anything about the flag.
“Our vision for this restaurant was to come together, serve ice cream, have a good time, and just outpour love,” says Katie Daras, one of the owners of Edisto River Creamery and Kitchen. “And all that has happened recently is us being called racists and getting threats, all because of a piece of property that’s not ours.”
The building used to be a Maurice’s Barbecue restaurant. The late owner, Maurice Bessinger, flew Confederate flags at all of his restaurants. When he sold this one, he deeded a small corner of the property to the Sons of Confederate Veterans for them to fly a Confederate flag.
The Daras family bought the property in February. “The minute I stepped on the property, the very minute we got here people were stopping and saying, ‘Are you gonna take the flag down?’ And then the next one would be, ‘Make sure you don’t take the flag down,'” says Tommy Daras, Katie’s father.
His wife, Debbie, says, “There’s nothing we can do. I mean, we can’t take that flag down. That is not our property.”
There’s a stone marker near the foot of the flagpole. It reads, “We fly this Confederate flag to honor the Confederate soldiers who gallantly fought and died defending the bridge crossing at the Edisto River against Gen. Sherman’s troops February 12, 1865.”
But Debbie Daras says few people read it. The words face the street and are on the opposite side of the marker from the restaurant’s parking lot. You would have to walk over to the edge of the property and around the marker in order to read it. She says they’ve asked for permission to move the marker, at their expense, so it’s easier to read, but the Sons of Confederate Veterans refused.
Manager Brandy Syfrett says, “A lot of people have been negative and saying, ‘No, we’re not eating there. We’re not coming in there because that’s your flag,’ and I’m having to stand out there and explain, by the monument, it’s not our flag.”
She says there have been threats against employees and even employees’ families.