When Mr. Brown began talking a few years ago about opening a restaurant in the mayor’s old house, which was also used as a hospital during the Civil War, some of the neighbors raised eyebrows, he said in an interview on Saturday.
“We didn’t let that stop us,” he said. Now, Mr. Brown, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., believes he’s helping to bridge the cultural divide that lingers in his adopted Southern hometown. “When I came here, I did not see community, and I’m a big fan of building community,” he said.
Bringing people together for conversations about the past and future of the community should come before deciding what to do with the Confederate monument, which some have proposed dynamiting off the side of the mountain. “Getting rid of the carving isn’t going to fix the issue,” he said. “It would be great to see it come down, but I’m trying to get to the root of this debate.”
A five-minute walk away on Main Street, a new brewpub called the Outrun Brewing Company, opened on July 3, and the owners, Josh Miller and Ryan Silva, said they were jolted when the Black militia group marched the next day, making the small city a flash point in a national debate over racism.
But Mr. Miller and Mr. Silva said they saw an opportunity to provide a safe space for potentially tough conversations. “This is what beer is all about,” Mr. Miller said, “bringing people together.”
The two men, who are white, said they are Black Lives Matter supporters. “We’re obviously not going to be on the side holding the Confederate flags,” said Mr. Silva, who stood behind their bar after watching the frenzy unfolding just outside. “That’s not what craft beer is about.”
Opening a business in the throes of a pandemic has been no small task, they said, and having chaos erupt in the street nearby wasn’t helpful. But they said they were glad to shoulder the burden if it would help show people that Stone Mountain was more than just a few old faces etched into the side of a rock.