Red Hen Ruined Town Image, Leadership Now Forced To Spend Emergency Fund


A small Virginia town is spending tens of thousands of dollars on damage control after a local restaurant refused to serve Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary.

Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of The Red Hen, approached Sanders when she visited the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, and asked her to leave because she worked for President Donald Trump.

Once news of the incident got out, a wave of protesters entered the town and stood outside the restaurant holding signs and chanting.

Sanders posted a Tweet stating what happened:

Senate Republicans to Block Schumer's Ukraine Funding Plan After Classified Briefing Turns Into Screaming Match

In the aftermath of the event, many posted reviews of the restaurant online, both negative and positive, depending on how they felt about the Trump administration.

the red hen

Yelp has been actively working to remove the politically motivated reviews.

Do you think The Red Hen got what was coming to them?

The tourism board for the region, which includes Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County, was flooded with phone calls and emails about the incident.

“For a town our size, it was a significant impact,” Director of Marketing Patty Williams stated.

Tourism board members met soon after to discuss the potential revenue impact of the publicity, considering that Lexington has attracted the most tourists to the area.

The restaurant closed for two weeks, and Wilkinson stepped down as director of Main Street Lexington, an organization that works to improve the downtown area.

“Considering the events of the past weekend, Stephanie felt it best that for the continued success of Main Street Lexington, she should step aside,” said Elizabeth Branner, president of the Main Street Lexington Board of Directors.

Melania Is Pushing Hard for Tucker Carlson to Get a Major Role in Trump Administration: Report

Wilkinson spoke with The Washington Post to iterate her side of the story, explaining that some of her employees are gay, and she was aware that when Trump announced his desire to ban transgender people from the military, Sanders defended the position, a decision she did not agree with.

Some local residents have spoken out in support of Wilkinson, such as the chairwoman of the Rockbridge County Democratic Committee, who said, “(Stephanie) is an amazing person with a big heart.” Others have called the attacks unfair.

Other local business owners stayed quiet on the subject, hoping not to get mixed up in the controversy, especially after Trump himself commented on the situation.

But a sign seen in the window of the restaurant bearing a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” — has sparked additional commentary, as did what happened after Sanders and her family left the restaurant:

Sanders and her husband went home, “(b)ut the rest of her family went across the street to a different restaurant,” according to her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “The owner of the Red Hen — nobody’s told this — then followed them across the street, called people, and organized a protest yelling and screaming at them from outside the other restaurant and creating this scene.”

Shortly after Sanders’ tweet, the tourism board agreed to increase spending on digital marketing campaigns to help spread positive messages about the area, according to The Roanoke Times. They decided to spend an extra $5,000 per month supplied by the Rockbridge Regional Tourism emergency fund, from July through September.

Board members agreed this was the best move to counter the negative publicity from the incident.

The tourism office is also running a number of surveys targeting nearby areas with frequent travelers, asking questions to learn if a significant number of people remember the incident and if it affects their travel plans to the area in an attempt to see that Lexington tourism recovers quickly.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , ,
Jacque is a digital marketer and writer providing quality content for a variety of businesses. She has been tasked with researching a broad spectrum of topics including digital marketing, social media, solar panel and clean energy technology, blockchain technology, accounting and creative tax strategy, business loans, niche manufacturing, natural health, wellness and more.
Prior to writing, Jacque completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in geology. Utilizing this education, she found employment in North Dakota and Montana on oil drilling rigs as a mudlogger working closely with geosteers to ensure each well was drilled into the most productive “pay zone.” Not only did this experience give her in-depth knowledge of the earth and the types of systems that produce oil and natural gas, it also gave her a first-hand look at the advanced technology used to drill deep horizontal wells built for hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

When the price of oil crashed, Jacque decided to move into a more stable industry where she could utilize her natural strength in writing and have the opportunity to explore her curiosities in other fields by studying and writing about them. She has spent significant time researching natural remedies and is always expanding her knowledge in natural health, wellness, and the health benefits of herbs. She has also been experimenting with gardening, learning how to forage, and creating tinctures and herbal teas to heal various ailments for friends and family.

For the past two years she has also been busy researching industries such as digital marketing, accounting, and finance, to be the sole digital content developer for a marketing agency, an accounting company, and two loan providers. She has written for various B2B and B2C companies, including a custom spring manufacturer, a medical wire forms producer, a medical device pad printer, a luxury resort, a hunting book supplier, a tattoo artist and more.

Jacque regularly attends educational seminars related to real estate investing and digital marketing, and has completed an extensive training program on options trading; applying strategies using calls, puts, and spreads; analyzing business finances; and reading charts to identify buying and selling signals.

Jacque has traveled extensively and is always looking for opportunities to expand her perspective on life and the way people live, to better appreciate her own life, and produce a unique, balanced viewpoint on every topic she writes about.
Bachelor's of Science, Geology
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Finance, Health, Science/Tech