NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The owner of a pay-what-you-can restaurant who was forced to move from their location in North Charleston received a major donation on Wednesday.
Destiny Community Café had to leave its location by the end of October and nearly closed for good after the property manager raised the rent. But members of the community came together – in true Charleston fashion – and helped collect donations for the organization.
Ragina Scott Saunders, the James Island native who founded the café, has been serving up healthy and delicious food to those who need help for almost seven years. Food is donated by local farms, nonprofits, and community partners.
She said the need intensified during the pandemic.
But Saunders learned in October that she and other small businesses would have to leave their location because of a rent increase.
“We tried to negotiate and talk with the manager and the only thing they tried to do is push contracts in my face,” she said.
Since then, there has been an outpouring of support from the community. During a special event on Wednesday, Seacoast Church and the North Charleston Dream Center presented her with a $50,000 check to go towards purchasing a new food truck to better serve those in need across the Lowcountry.
“In 2009, the Seacoast Church and The North Charleston Dream Center had a dream to make an impact in this community. And just like you, we ran into obstacles and a lot of trials. But the generosity of the community coming together through their finances and support helped us maintain and serve thousands,” said organizers with the center.
But that wasn’t all. The owner of Swig and Swine was also at the event and handed over the keys to a second food truck to Saunders.
“I’m a firm believer in the fact that everyone’s giving gifts in order to do God’s work. When I saw the story that you had lost your restaurant, I knew that you needed a new set of tools to help give back to the community like you always do, so we have a truck for you.”
Saunders was named a News 2 Remarkable Woman finalist earlier this year. She thanked her community for their willingness to give back during today’s surprise.
“I thank God, I thank the community for having faith and coming together because this is what it’s all about. This is making it even better to happen for us, even before the new year. We were getting calls from people who are handicapped, disabled, unemployed, sick and a meal is the number one thing they are asking for right now,” she said,
Saunders went on to say, “I thank you all for getting us back up and running on the road with not just one, but two food trucks – the beginning of a fleet – this is God’s work, y’all. Thank y’all.”
Saunders said getting out to the communities will be very beneficial to those who are facing hard times and worried about transportation. “We can feed double, triple, what we’ve been doing,” she said. “We even have people that are disabled so we can come to the apartments, low-income communities – this is a blessing.”
Others in the community have donated $25,000 to the Saunders and Destiny Community Café.