Red Hen Nightmare: Restaurant That Refused To Serve Sarah Sanders Is Torpedoing The Town’s Tourism Business


by Matt Vespa, Townhall:

In June, Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided to eat at The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia. They were refused service. Yes, in the great fight against the Trump White House, some liberals decided that they would take their stand here. It was so brave (sarc.). The whole episode is just absurd (via WaPo):

Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening — nearly 200 miles from the White House — when the choice presented itself.

Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned just off Main Street in the small city of Lexington, in the western part of Virginia.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders had just walked in and sat down, the chef informed her.

“He said the staff is a little concerned. What should we do?” Wilkinson told The Washington Post. “I said I’d be down to see if it’s true.”


She knew Lexington, population 7,000, had voted overwhelmingly against Trump in a county that voted overwhelmingly for him. She knew the community was deeply divided over such issues as Confederate flags. She knew, she said, that her restaurant and its half-dozen servers and cooks had managed to stay in business for 10 years by keeping politics off the menu.

And she knew — she believed — that Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked in the service of an “inhumane and unethical” administration.

Wilkinson has no regrets telling Sanders to leave. It’s her business. She can refuse service, even if the reason is immensely stupid. As liberals continue their campaign to bully people and destroy livelihoods of people whose politics they hate, the Right has responded in kind: circle the wagons and don’t apologize. It’s the natural reaction to the Left’s boycott, demonize, and harass strategy. Is this the optimal way of living and doing business? No—but the Left forced us into this arena. Since this Red Hen fiasco, which was also an entirely avoidable, the town’s tourism has suffered. The regional governing boards recently decided to spend some of their emergency funds to improve the image of the area, which has taken a hit (via Roanoke Times):

Rockbridge Regional Tourism approved a recovery plan to boost its marketing after The Red Hen restaurant controversy brought a slew of negative national media coverage this summer.

The regional tourism board, with members from Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County, met with the Lexington City Council on Thursday for an update on tourism initiatives and numbers.

The board had initially approved the recovery plan soon after news of The Red Hen controversy was spreading across the country. At the end of June, the restaurant’s owner declined to serve presidential press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she visited the restaurant.


All three localities met and decided to pull together emergency funds to increase digital marketing and spread positive messages of the area, especially Lexington, which brings in the largest number of tourists.


Director of Marketing Patty Williams said the area is still feeling effects from the controversy — the tourism office received a letter Thursday from a family in Georgia who said they would never come back to the area because of what happened. And during the immediate aftermath of the incident, the tourism office received thousands of phone calls and emails.

“For a town our size, it was a significant impact,” Williams said.

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