COTTAGEVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – A problem with a septic tank may force a small business in Colleton County to close its doors for good.

David Stanfield and his wife opened Red Brick Pizza in Cottageville a few years ago. But they may have to close their business after South Carolina’s lead health agency, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said their septic system is not fit for the job.

“Almost two years ago we started, and almost immediately DHEC jumped on my back,” said Stanfield. “In March of last year, we started takeout only, but in March I contacted them about opening a 12-person dining room. They said yes, you can open it.”

A month later, Stanfield said he was told that could not have a dining room.

“I asked them about the tables out front – I had four picnic tables out front – they said you can have all the picnic tables you want, so we built a patio which has a bunch of outside tables. And then five months later, during another inspection, and we’ve gone through eight in one year, during another inspection they said you can’t have these outside tables. I said, well, you told us we could.”

DHEC told Stanfield that his septic tank was too small, and he was given a ‘shut door’ order.

“Two months ago, I went before the council- I begged them, I said my septic system has never overflowed, it’s never had a problem, and they said you have 60 days to put this monstrosity in back here.”

His customers were outside protesting on Tuesday while raising money to help keep them in business.

Stanfield began installing the large septic system. He says he has now spent $51,000 on the project. But his business only makes about $800-$1,000 on a good week. So, he believes he will now have to just shut down.

Stanfield eventually put a water meter on his property after a suggestion from a neighbor to see how much water was being used each day.

“Our water meter shows that we use 350 gallons per night, my existing system will do 450 gallons and they’ve got me putting in the system it will do 1,500 gallons per night which is just crazy. They’ve bankrupted me. They’ve taken every dime that we have, and we don’t even have money to open for food this week.”

DHEC sent News 2 a statement saying Stanfield was not in compliance with his DHEC permit when he moved from take-out only to restaurant seating.

“Mr. Stanfield did not dispute the grounds for suspension but requested the suspension be rescinded because he was diligently working on gaining compliance with DHEC regulations,” the statement said. “Failure to install the upgraded system would not lead to closure of the facility but would result in the return to the original food service operation as approved and permitted by DHEC.”

“I don’t understand this because, you know, America is known for if you put everything into – whatever your dream is – you can get it accomplished and they are burying us alive,” said Heike Stanfield, Co-Owner, Red Brick Pizza.

Stanfield said they were last open on Saturday. But unless a miracle happens, he believes they may not be able to re-open again.

The matter was discussed during a DHEC board meeting on May 5, 2022 with the restaurant’s owner in attendance – a motion was made about two hours and thirty-three minutes into the meeting, following an executive session. You can watch that hearing by clicking here.