White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was told to leave a Lexington, Virginia, restaurant Friday night, she said on Twitter Saturday morning. Sanders said the owner of the Red Hen in the Shenandoah Valley asked her to leave because she works for President Trump.
“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,” Sanders tweeted Saturday morning.
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
The Red Hen, located roughly 200 miles outside Washington, D.C., is a farm-to-table, American fare restaurant. CBS News has reached out to the restaurant. The restaurant’s owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, explained to The Washington Post why she turned Sanders and her family out of the restaurant.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told the Post. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
Wilkinson had no regrets about her decision.
“I would have done the same thing again,” she said “We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
Someone who claimed to be Sanders’ server seemed to have posted earlier on social media about the incident. That post was tweeted out by Brennan Gilmore, the executive director of environmental group Clean Virginia.
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) June 23, 2018
Lexington is a small Virginia town that’s home to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Washington and Lee University.
Sanders’ father, former Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, accused the Red Hen of bigotry for kicking his daughter out of the restaurant. “Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA,” he tweeted. “Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate’. And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds’.”
Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the “Hate Plate”. And appetizers are “small plates for small minds” https://t.co/rHEVdcQwwh
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 23, 2018
People took to Yelp to add their thoughts — many of them negative — about the restaurant and its apparent refusal to serve Sanders. The vast majority of the reviews today had little to do with the food.
“WOW. Just WOW. This restaurant discriminates if it doesn’t agree with your political views,” one Yelp reviewer wrote Saturday.
“You have joined a long list of people that open its rude mouth and loose. Shame on you to insult that women nationally. Now its your turn. By the way your food stinks,” another reviewer wrote Saturday.
The restaurant also had its defenders. One wrote, “A restaurant that gave Sarah Huckabee Sanders a little taste of her own medicine…priceless! I must stop in soon so I can give a real review.”
By the end of the day, Yelp posted a disclaimer: “This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news.
“While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to these news events, we do work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.”
Yelp warned that as a result, user posts could be removed as part of its “cleanup process.” It welcomed users “to post your thoughts about the recent media coverage for this business on Yelp Talk at any time.”
Apparently, some social media users were also mistaking a D.C. restaurant also called the Red Hen, with the Virginia restaurant. The unaffiliated D.C. restaurant issued this statement on Twitter:
— The Red Hen (@RedHenDC) June 23, 2018