The quirky signs Charlie Ruffalo places on the marquee outside Sub Station II are known for generating feedback locally. On Friday, that feedback extended to the presidential campaign trail.
Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., stopped in at Ruffalo's Cherry Road business for lunch early Friday afternoon after a town hall-style event at Winthrop's DiGiorgio Campus Center.
The event coincided with the First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum, which is hosted by the S.C. Democratic Party and will air nationwide on MSNBC Friday night.
In anticipation of Friday’s visit by four presidential candidates, Ruffalo placed a message on each side of his marquee. One said: “US Presidential candidates can eat here free,” and the other said, “Please don't bother the candidates while they eat here.”
“(Rep.) Mick Mulvaney saw the sign and told him, and (Paul) said he had to eat here for lunch,” Ruffalo said.
Ruffalo had no idea Paul was coming until he walked in. The Kentucky senator insisted on paying for his meal.
“He was very engaging and very focused, and listened to what I have to say,” Ruffalo said. “He enjoyed it and got a dozen cookies. He said he enjoyed the food.”
Paul isn’t the first famous person to stop by Sub Station, Ruffalo said, noting visits by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who backed out of the presidential race over the summer, and actor Mel Gibson.
“Those signs, to me, are very boring if you’re just promoting your business,” Ruffalo said. “I like to have fun, I like to get comments from the community, I like to get people engaged, and that sign is famous.”