The photo at the heart of the controversy shows the U.S. flag upside-down and backward at El Rio restaurant in Creedmoor.
But one of the restaurant owners said it wasn't an intentional act.
"I tell one of the employees to hang the flag," owner Antonio Garnica said. "But we have the taco night, we (were) real busy; I don't realize that the flag was hanging the wrong way."
The display, Garnica said, is part of their Cinco De Mayo décor.
The flag has been hung correctly now, but Garnica said he was answering takeout orders when the issue was brought to his attention.
He said customers were also sitting in the booth underneath, so it took some time to correct, but he said that it was by no means a message.
"It don't have to do anything with the people protesting or anything like that," Garnica said. "If you're in business and you do something like that, and you know it's going to hurt your business, so you're not going to do it."
The restaurant took to social media to explain and apologize.
The poster, David Carey, replied, "I hope it was an honest mistake but the lack of concern and urgency is disheartening to me. That flag stands for every man, woman and child that has paid with (their) life or loved ones life for you and me to be free in this country."
"I love America. I've been over here a long time," Garnica said.
And with 13 years in business, he said he wants everyone to know he's sorry.
"I would never do that to offend anybody, but it happens. It's a mistake and I asked them for forgiveness," Garnica said.
ABC tried repeatedly to get in contact with Carey, the man who posted the photo, to ask whether he would accept the apology, but we never heard back.
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