In a revealing interview with the The Washington Post, Red Hen restaurant co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson has shared some more details about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ removal from the establishment Friday night.
Wilkinson was actually at her Virginia home when she received a call about the Trump staffer’s arrival at the eatery. Sanders was the last to arrive to the 8-seat captain’s table at the tiny 26-seat restaurant in Lexington, VA.
The Red Hen’s chef called Wilkinson to tell her the situation—and to ask how to proceed. Wilkinson got in her car and arrived at the restaurant, where she positively identified the press secretary, in a black dress, with seven other guests.
Wilkinson huddled with the Red Hen’s staff and asked for their input. She told the Post that many of the employees of the Hen are gay, and were uncomfortable serving a woman who has supported the Trump administration’s attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military, business that refuse service to the LGBT community like Masterpiece Cakeshop, and the separation of migrant families from their children.
Wilkinson asked if her employees wanted her to give Sanders the boot, and they said yes.
The co-owner met with Sanders on the patio briefly where she said, “I’d like to ask you to leave.”
According to Wilkinson, Sanders politely complied. Their main courses hadn’t arrived, and they offered to pay for their drinks and appetizers; Wilkinson told them that was all on the house.
Wilkinson doesn’t regret her headline-making decision one bit:
“I would have done the same thing again,” Wilkinson said. “We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation. I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
’86’ is a term used in restaurant. It means to take something off the menu, or to refuse service. Here’s the whiteboard at the Red Hen on Friday night.
Something of a microcosm of our divided country, the Red Hen has received equal parts hostility and praise from outsiders. Many are protesting the restaurant for giving Sanders the boot; others are praising Wilkinson. The Red Hen’s Yelp page has been blowing up with over 2,000 new reviews, now split down the middle with a 2.5/5 average rating. Obviously, most of these people have never set foot in the restaurant.
Here’s the Red Hen’s Yelp page, where you can leave a rave review or two: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-red-hen-lexington-3