The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, is set to reopen, two weeks after a kerfuffle over the owner’s refusal to serve a Trump official, WHAM-TV is reporting.
Until a couple of weeks ago, few outside of the the Virginia town had heard about the small, farm-to-table eatery. However, on June 22, the chef at the restaurant told owner Stephanie Wilkinson that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, along with about seven other people, were in the restaurant, and that several servers didn’t want to serve her. As the Washington Post reported at the time, Wilkinson approached Sanders, pulled her aside, and politely explained to her that she (Wilkinson) didn’t want her in the restaurant.
“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation. I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.'”
Sanders and her companions left without incident. However, she later tweeted about the incident.
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
As Elite Daily would later report, that might have been an ethics violation and possibly a violation of the law, according to former White House director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub.
Sanders used her official govt account to condemn a private business for personal reasons. Seeks to coerce business by using her office to get public to pressure it. Violates endorsements ban too, which has an obvious corollary for discouraging patronage. Misuse reg covers both.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 23, 2018
Donald Trump himself jumped into the controversy, tweeting that the restaurant had “filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” adding that “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
A USA Today report noted that as of Red Hen’s most recent health inspection, in February of this year, the restaurant had no health violations, whereas several restaurants at Trump properties have been dinged with such violations as “filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies in facility’s food and/or non-food areas,” and “conditions conducive to attracting vermin.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 2, 2018
The restaurant also became the scene of protests, both online and in person. Users flooded Yelp with negative reviews, and Trump supporters showed up at the restaurant. The restaurant closed indefinitely shortly thereafter.
On Thursday, the restaurant re-opened, with signs that only diners with reservations can come in, and that they must come in through a side entrance. A sign also noted that they were booked solid.
Meanwhile, protesters are once again picketing the establishment. One group, the Patriot Picket, is there with signs reading, “Love Trumps Hate,” “Hey Red Hen Go Cluck Yourself,” and “Red Hen: Martin Luther King Weeps.”