Stanton’s BBQ & Seafood
Address: 2828 Stantons Rd, Bennettsville, SC 29512
Phone: (843) 265-4855
Web site: stantosnbarbeque.com
Stanton’s BBQ & Seafood is one of those places that many people have heard of even if they have never been there. Over the years I’ve probably had a half dozen people ask me if I’ve ever been there and I never had. All of those people asking that question were pilots of small aircraft who, at one time or another, had flown in to the grass landing strip that Stantion’s maintains just across the road from their restaurant.
There have been fly-ins going on there for decades and they still have one every first Saturday in November. At one time they have had as many as 75 small planes rendezvous there but now that turnout is much smaller as the original pilot-owner died back in 2003 and the fly-in attendance has fallen off.
The attendance isn’t the only thing that has most probably fallen off. Outside the restaurant are a couple of outbuildings one of which looked as if it had been a genuine barbeque pit in days gone by. Now it is boarded up and the barbeque served at Stanton’s is a long way from real barbeque. At one time it may have been good barbeque but today it is probably the worst substitute for barbeque I’ve had in any restaurant. My dining companion tried a fork full and declined to eat even a second bite. She agreed that it was the worst barbeque she had ever had. In fact, I am putting it in the Top 100 “Worth the Trip” section only because it is one of the few barbeque houses in the state that is known outside of South Carolina and that, of course, is because of the fly-ins where weekend pilots took the opportunity to fly over and see old friends once a year.
Marlboro County isn’t known for its good barbeque. Barbeque in that neck of the woods is almost nonexistent with only three restaurants being listed when the county of Marlboro is Googled. One of those places is Stanton’s and another is Landmark restaurant just outside of Bennettsville which has changed its name from Revel’s to Landmark Restaurant. The Revel’s operation is now a cooker of pork which it packages for distribution through grocery stores. An idea of its product can be deduced by the fact that there is not a piece of wood in sight by the cooking plant and the label of their product in the stores lists it as “electric pit cooked” rather than as real smoked barbeque. Marlboro County does have one newer barbeque house that uses a smoker and if you are in the area and want some real barbeque then that should be your choice. That new place is Sandy Ocean Bar-B-Que but neither it nor Landmark is open on Monday or Saturday. On Saturday your only choice is Stanton’s.
My dining companion ordered a seafood platter since Stanton’s advertises itself as a barbeque and fish house. The menu lists oysters, fish, clams, crab, shrimp and other items but serves only lists a plate of barbeque and a barbeque sandwich in the barbeque department. That seafood platter turned out to be a better choice even though when it was served had only out-of-the can slaw and those crinkly potatoes that come frozen from their local food distributer. The potatoes were not worth the calories and the slaw is as poor as one can get out of a wholesale can but the fish was good and the shrimp were not bad either. My barbeque plate had the same poor slaw but I had ordered beans and they tasted as if Stanton’s had doctored them up a bit so that they were actually pretty good. The beans were the best thing on the plate. The barbeque, as I said, was so bad I had three tastes and laid the plastic fork back on the table. The unsweetened tea was pretty good, by the way.
The question is why the people of Marlboro put up with such poor fare and the only thing I can conclude is that Marlboro was originally settled in the 1735 to1775 period by Welsh Dissenters, religious believers known today as Baptists. These Welshmen came down from Delaware and Pennsylvania rather than directly from Wales through the port of Charleston. The Dissenters were “dissenting” from the Anglican Church, the state church in most of the American colonies plus the people in other colonies usually took a dim view of anyone who practiced a religion different from their majority. Colonial South Carolina, on the other hand, had a constitution written by the famous John Locke and it included a clause that guaranteed religious freedom to everyone, even to “the heathens,” by which they meant the Indians. Also, South Carolinians didn’t really care where you went to church just so long as you did it, which is why it had so many Huguenots (who are Calvinists not Anglicans) and the largest Jewish population in America at the time. South Carolina was the perfect place for Dissenters and one of the reasons we have so many Baptists in the state today is because of our state constitution and the religious opportunity it afforded all people. Unfortunately these Welsh settlers never had a barbeque history or culture where they came from, especially Pennsylvania and Delaware, much less Wales, and it appears as if they have yet to develop one.
If you are in Bennettsville you might take in Stanton’s just to say you have been there. However, it’s probably easier to find from your small plane rather than by car since it is a good way out of town towards North Carolina and you have to make several turns down various roads just to get there. If you are driving in or flying to Stanton’s their website gives you the map and the coordinates.