When the owners of Babas on Cannon last year approached fellow Charleston restaurateurs about replicating a New York City bake sale benefiting Planned Parenthood, they knew it wasn’t an insignificant ask in a city where business owners have traditionally shied away from politics. But their belief in the cause and the format’s potential outweighed any concern about putting colleagues in a tough spot.
Twenty local restaurants ultimately contributed to the sale held on Tu’s patio, raising $18,000 in a span of three hours.
But that was 2019.
The Babas on Cannon’s team this year was anxious to reprise the successful event on behalf of Fresh Future Farm and Charleston’s ACLU chapter. Yet its members knew that even if past participants liked the idea, restaurants might not have the resources to contribute to it. They wondered if it was seemly to solicit help.
“It’s in our faces every moment, every day, how much restaurants are bleeding right now,” Babas co-owner Edward Crouse says. “We have no idea what financial situations everyone else is in.”
With encouragement from their original co-conspirators at Tu and Renzo, Crouse and Marie Stitt secured ingredient donations and lined up pickup locations, so restaurants’ obligations were “really, really low-impact.”
Eighteen restaurants signed on to the sale, which concluded at midnight on Friday, July 24. "Huge help having the product donated," said Crouse of the coordination effort.
The sale itself was modest compared to last year’s edition, with people fetching boxes of pre-ordered pastries from designated locations instead of mingling in a party-like atmosphere and buying treats directly from the professional bakers responsible for them. Still, it represents a small step toward normalcy for the restaurant community, which has long emphasized charitable giving.
“It’s insane trying to take on something else, but we realized anything helps at this point,” Crouse said of the organizers’ determination to once again support groups addressing local issues.
Boxes were sorted thematically, so Babas’ contribution of pistachio and pecan granola was grouped with Life Raft Treats’ mini cherry pies and The Obstinate Daughter’s lemon thyme bars, among other items, for the Fruit Delight collection. The Cookie Monster box included chocolate chip cookies from FIG and toffee shortbread cookies from The Grocery, while the Sunday Morning box contained Renzo’s bagels and Kwei Fei’s moon cakes.
Each box cost $40. By the time all was said and done, the dialed-back digital bake sale had raised around $9,250, 100 percent of which is earmarked for the farm and the legal group.