In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Monday, December 11, 2023

Red Hen debacle: A wrong way to express a valid concern


In today’s polarized world, an incident were a restaurant owner in America exercised her legal right to ask a diner whose actions were deemed wrong in her job was asked to leave the establishment while she and her guests were working through their appetizers and had not yet been served the main course.

Under the law, a restaurant owner can refuse service to someone as long as that refusal is not based on racial or other bigotry.

Stephanie Wilkinson, co-owner of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va found out White House Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dining at there and became concerned that the spokesman for Donald Trump, among other things, professed homophobic positions against gays and some members of the establishment were gay and offended by such positions.

So Wilkinson took Sanders aside and said she needed to leave Red Hen.

“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,’ ” Wilkinson told The Washington Post.

“They offered to pay,” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’ ”
Sanders did, along with the seven others in the party.

The next morning, however, Sanders did what her boss, Trump, often does when he’s pissed. She tweeted:

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.

Over the weekend, more than 206 thousand Twitter followers added comments.

On Monday morning, Trump jumped into the fray, with this tweet:

The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!

A Lexington resident brought flowers to the restaurant with a sign that said: “Democracy requires principled government. Thank you Red Hen.”

On the other side, Stephen Russek of nearby Natural Bridge said: “I’m not crazy about everything Donald Trump does, but what they they did in this restaurant is disgraceful.”

Red Hen did not open its doors for its planned Saturday night hours. Emails to those with reservations said: “We would like to avoid exposing our patrons to any potential unpleasantness from outside entities.”

On social media, Trump fans urged carpet bomb the restaurant’s phone line with fake reservations.

As happens so often in today’s contentious society, nastiness erupted.

On Monday, The Washington Post, an avid critic of Trump and his administration, editorialized “Let the Trump team east in peace.”

“Down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service,” the editorial concluded. “That benefits no one.”

As one is often finds fault with the hyperbole that emerges from Trump’s mouth like verbal diarrhea, I also feel there is a time and place to express one’s dissatisfaction with elected officials and those who choose to work for them or support their actions.

I also can understand the anger that Ms. Wilkinson felt towards Ms. Sander’s choice of occupation and her beliefs but, again, the group was eating quietly in a public place and, according to reports, not espousing any rapid positions of the Trump administration.

This is something that should not have happened in America. The response by Sanders and Trump showed Wilkinson’s opinions about the character of both were valid but letting them eat and leave without incident would have been the better response.

Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

16 thoughts on “Red Hen debacle: A wrong way to express a valid concern”

  1. While I agree with Doug that the owner of the restaurant should not have asked SHS to leave, the irony junkie in me wants to yell out “Karma, baby!”

  2. What ever happened to just spitting in the scumbag’s food? That is a time-honored American tradition. Evil jerks have ALWAYS eaten lots of saliva (and worse) in restaurants. That’s just the price of being an asshat.

  3. Just to throw another bone in, it is NOT the same as the Colorado cake baker.

    Our laws, the ones we all live under, are superior to your religion, no matter how ‘closely held’. I don’t care if your religion requires sacrificing virgins every equinox at midnight, that’s against the law, and I don’t care how much you believe in it, the law still says “You can’t do that.”. If the law says no, you can take your closely held religious beliefs and stuff them.

    The law is superior to any and all religions, and it should always be that way.


  4. I’m going to disagree with Mr. Thompson on this one.

    Sooner or later everyone affiliated with President Trump is going to have to learn that their actions will have consequences, and those consequences might not be what you want or even what you expect. For now, they’re insulated by wealth and power and privilege, but there will come an accounting, and not in Heaven nor Hell – Right here on planet Earth.

    And Mr. Jones? Imagine if this harassment was against the Trump administration. We’d hear about it day in and day out in the media… Sorta like what’s actually happening, isn’t it? Although I suspect most of the Obama administration was a little more careful about ethical rules about tweeting. Something’s certainly pathetic, but it wasn’t the Obama administration.


  5. So I guess making it legal for Cake bakers to refuse to bake a cake for a same sex couple was the right way to solve an Invalid issue ? If they can refuse to make a cake for any reason then it’s OK to kick this lying Trump sheep dog OUT of the café. To ALL you Conservative Hypocrites, SHUT UP !

  6. Wow unbelievable,! No excuse for this at all. Coming from the so called party of tolerance their obviously is no tolerance unless everyone has the same opinions and views. I’m sure this business owner is regretting this. It always amazes me when businesses, celebrities etc.. decided to take a political stance. It’s a real smart way to lose half of your customers. They obviously live in a bubble and seem to forget half the country don’t agree with them. Just think if the roles were reversed and the harassment was against the Obama administration. There would be an outrage, we would hear day in and day out for weeks on the news. Pathetic!

    • Just out of curiosity though…

      How do we know what party the owner and the employees belong to? There’s really not only just the two….

    • Jim-There’s ALREADY outrage against the administration of Cadet Bone Spurs and what’s being done in the name of the Republican party. But, regarding the Red Hen, there was no indication in any of the stories I’ve read about this incident that just because Sanders was asked to leave didn’t necessarily come from a Democratic owner/servers. They merely exercised their legal prerogatives in choosing not to serve her and asking her to leave. We ARE seeing some progress though. It’s refreshing to see that nobody was asked to leave because of the color of their skin, but because of their moral character (or lack of it).

  7. It was not a good idea for the restaurant to kick Sanders out, but it was really a dumb thing for Sanders to tweet about it — especially on a government account.

  8. If I were Sarah, I would thank the owner. One of the thngs I always tell my kids is don’t piss off the staff — they will spit in your food or worse.

  9. The story failed to mention that both Sanders’ and Trump’s tweets on their official White House tweet accounts are actually illegal. You can’t use your position to promote or attack a business. 5 CFR 2635.702(a)

  10. And yet, it’s perfectly fine to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Am I wrong here in Republican supporters (and some Dems) being hypocrites?

  11. I agree with Doug’s basic premise here. It would have been more professional for the restaurant owner and staff to just let them eat and leave.


    The latest Trump twitter storm has probably given this owner and the restaurant the kind of advertising boost they could have never gotten any other way. Especially given glowing reviews (after all, why did the Sanders party choose to make reservations there in the first place?) and a pretty clean sheet as to health inspections. This could end up like “Fire and Fury”, where tons of money got made because Trump couldn’t keep his twitter thumbs still.

    Makes for an interesting cunnumdrum.

Comments are closed.