Trump Sends Message To Red Hen Restaurant That Kicked Out Sanders: Clean Up Your Nasty Restaurant


Following reports that a Virginia restaurant denied service to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week, both she and President Donald Trump addressed the incident specifically.

In a tweet Saturday, Sanders recalled her experience from the previous night.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

Two days later, Trump addressed what he considered the Red Hen’s shortcomings in a tweet about the Lexington eatery.

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“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,” he wrote. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”

Some Twitter users chided the president for using his bully pulpit to write a negative review of a private business.

Was the restaurant's co-owner wrong to ask Sanders to leave?

Others opined that as the owner of Mar-a-Lago, he should refrain from criticizing the hygiene of other restaurants. Several linked to media reports like a 2017 Associated Press article chronicling a series of health code violations at the Florida golf resort.

In reaction to the denial of service itself, however, the White House received widespread support from those on both sides of the aisle who believe business owners should not turn away customers based on their political ideologies.

One notable exception has been U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who has come under fire by Republicans and Democrats alike for comments that seemingly encouraged protesters to harass individuals serving in the Trump administration.

Stephanie Wilkinson, the Red Hen co-owner who asked Sanders to leave, said in an interview the restaurant had not engaged in any partisan activity prior to the incident despite its close proximity to D.C.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” she said. “I have a business and I want the business to thrive.”

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Wilkinson said she felt that an encounter with the White House press secretary warranted a diversion from that strategy on moral grounds.

“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” she said.

According to Wilkinson, she asked Sanders to leave but the decision was made as a team after she told employees that she would be willing to deny service to the party if they wanted her to.

“They said yes,” she said.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment