Donald Trump may have been trying to harm the Red Hen restaurant when he launched a Twitter attack against the Virginia farm-to-table eatery that turned away Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but it seems to have had the opposite effect.
In the hours after the president ranted that the Lexington restaurant is “filthy” and criticized its paint job, a movement has grown on social media to purchase gift cards to the Red Hen and send them to veterans. As CNBC noted, Trump’s attack on the restaurant this week drew a widespread pushback including many who pointed out the Red Hen’s glowing health inspection record — especially compared to the numerous violations at Trump’s properties.
Amid a debate over whether it is appropriate to deny services to members of the Trump administrations for their actions, some took a more direct approach. On Twitter, a movement sprung up to purchase gift certificates from the Virginia restaurant and then donate them to veterans or other groups in need. For those who disagreed with President Trump’s attacks on the business, it was a way to respond directly while staying largely out of the political fray.
Others saw the gift cards as a way to support owner Stephanie Wilkinson, who was the one to poll the restaurant’s employees on whether to kick out Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Everyone buy a gift card, promote and if your traveling through the great state of Virginia make sure you eat at the Red Hen Restaurant. Great specials and great food!! SALUTE TO @StephanieWilkinson #StephanieWilkinson -An American hero!! pic.twitter.com/ubsuROOeRR
— Beatbopper (@beatbopper00) June 24, 2018
— Anita Timeout! ???? (@AnitaTimeOut) June 24, 2018
While Lexington’s Red Hen restaurant may be seeing a rush of attention — and sales — in the wake of Donald Trump’s Twitter attacks, others sharing the same name have not been so lucky. Though the Red Hen that kicked out Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a stand-alone restaurant and not part of a chain, others that happened to bear the same name have come under attack online by people who conflate the two.
As The Verge noted, many of the similarly named restaurants have been forced to take to social media to clarify that none of them kicked out the Trump official.
“So far, The Verge has found at least 10 different restaurants that were mistaken for the one that ejected Sanders — or assumed to be part of some giant franchise of tiny locavore joints,” the report noted. “A Red Hen in Swedesboro, New Jersey, (motto: “deliciously simple food”) posted an exasperated note after receiving hundreds of phone calls about the incident. An unrelated restaurant in Connecticut pleaded with angry Facebook users: ‘People! PLEASE. Do not react before you know which FB page to which you are posting.'”
It’s not clear how much revenue the original Red Hen restaurant has gotten from the gift card campaign, but the movement is continuing to build up steam as more people join in.