While restaurant owners and chefs in other cities have emerged as outspoken advocates for causes ranging from gun control to Black Lives Matter, the Charleston food-and-beverage sector has remained studiously apolitical.
Considering the city’s longstanding distaste for dissent and the industry’s reliance on every diner’s dollar, there are plenty of reasons for restaurants here to avoid taking a stand. (Supporting clean oceans is so uncontroversial that it doesn’t count.)
Yet in a significant departure from the norm, two dozen restaurants, cafes and bakeries have signed on for a bake sale this Sunday benefiting Planned Parenthood. Marie Stitt of Babas on Cannon, which is co-sponsoring the event with Renzo and Tu/Xiao Bao Biscuit, says a number of them independently asked to join the effort. “We were thrilled,” she says.
For those participating, Planned Parenthood is a beacon of safe and accessible sexual health care. Indeed, the organization’s work is so respected in mainstream culinary circles that when The James Beard Foundation last year posted a story about a surge in chef activism, it characterized restaurants’ support for Planned Parenthood as an understandable response to “the current government’s regressive policies when it comes to reproductive rights.”
That’s not how some Charleston area diners would put it. As outraged messages sent to The Post and Courier after it first announced the bake sale made clear, they view Planned Parenthood foremost as a provider of abortions, which they oppose. Anti-abortion activists are planning to demonstrate outside of the event "to protect future foodies," as their slogan goes.
Of course, those detractors aren’t obliged to purchase a fundraising cookie. But here’s hoping they can at least take heart in local restaurants using their popularity for something other than attracting more business. In a city where the tourist economy is captained by restaurateurs, it’s nice to see them embrace their roles as cultural and political leaders, too.
The Sunday bake sale at Tu, 430 Meeting St., is scheduled for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The following sweets will be among the items available for purchase (and nobody’s allowed into the Tu courtyard without anteing up for at least one $5 ticket, the basic currency of the baked good sales system):
Babas on Cannon: Peach-and-fig galette
Basic Kitchen: Banana bread
Brown’s Court Bakery: Carmelita bars
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits: Cocoa-and-cream cookies
Cocoa Academic: Chocolate bars
Ember and Ashes: Burnt Basque cheesecake
EVO: Brownie cupcakes
FIG: Berry Linzer torte
Goat.sheep.cow: Chocolate silk pie
Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails: Treacle sponge pudding and cherry jam
Harbinger Café: Doughnuts
Kwei Fei: Sesame doughnut holes
Life Raft Treats: Not Fried Chicken ice cream bars
Melfi’s: Cannoli cupcakes
Millers All Day: Cinnamon biscuit roll
The Ordinary: Blueberry coffee cake muffins
Sugar: Mini cupcakes
WildFlour Pasty: Sticky buns
Additionally, for those seeking savories, there will be bagels from Renzo; Japanese curry puffs from JackRabbit Filly and bacon-and-cheese scones from Josephine Wine Bar, as well as coffee, tea and cocktails from Tu. For more information, visit any of the sponsors’ Instagram accounts.