A restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, is facing backlash after its owner asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave on June 22 because she works for President Donald Trump.
Following the incident, The Red Hen Restaurant was flooded with thousands of negative reviews online, causing the eatery’s rating on Yelp, a popular website for customer reviews, to plummet to two stars out of five.
The backlash extended to eponymous but unaffiliated restaurants in other locations as well. A Red Hen eatery in Washington took to social media to let people know they aren’t affiliated with the Lexington restaurant. Another with the same name in New Jersey also had to release a statement.
“Kindly check your facts before you erroneously defame an innocent business on Facebook in an attempt to destroy their business where they welcome all, irrespective of their race, religion, views or opinions,” the New Jersey restaurant’s statement reads.
The media caught wind of the incident after a restaurant employee who served Sanders posted about it on Facebook. Sanders addressed the controversy the next morning, explaining that she had politely departed the restaurant after the owner asked her to leave.
“Her actions say far more about her than about me,” Sanders wrote. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
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
Sanders’s father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, criticized the restaurant for kicking out his daughter.
“Bigotry,” Huckabee wrote on Twitter. “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.'”
The incident at Red Hen comes days after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to leave a restaurant by protesters.
In a separate incident on June 22, a group of protesters showed up outside Nielsen’s townhouse and played sounds of crying children, while chanting “No justice, no sleep.”
Voters in the town of Lexington supported Hillary Clinton for president by a ratio of 2-1, unlike the majority of the state, which backed Trump in the election.