Gay Employees Asked Red Hen Restaurant Owner to Remove Sarah Huckabee Sanders

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:



15 thoughts on “Gay Employees Asked Red Hen Restaurant Owner to Remove Sarah Huckabee Sanders”

  1. Sleuth the Supreme Court did

    Sleuth the Supreme Court did that not Trump get informed. Refusing anyone service isn't right now or ever even gays.If you want to make a stand do it out of the business arena and have the laws changed. I own a business and if I refused my services to anyone based on hate I would be out of business. It's a shame people are so radical what happened to love. And don't say Trump did it the left did it.heart

  2. Simple word in response to

    Simple word in response to Trump, Sanders and to those so called "moral compass" warriors: KARMA

    You refuse service to gays because of moral grounds. And now it is used on the same grounds against you. KARMA in it's finest.

  3. This is so typical of gays

    This is so typical of gays and the left…..if this happens to them there's a federal lawsuit…..but its fine to show their prejudice and hate whenever they want….

    hopefully the restaurant closes….I’ve heard from friends its terrible anyway 

    • They’re completely different

      They're completely different issues.

      – One is denying service to people born differently than you, which is against the law. 

      – The other is denying service to people who torture kids, which is what you do when you're a good human being.

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  5. Are they allowed to buy

    Are they allowed to buy liquor from ABC liquors?  I thought restaurants had to buy their liquor from the state, and it had to have a special seal on the top???

  6. I’m not saying if they know

    I'm not saying if they know what side you are on.  Just if they dont like you.  Happens all the time.  Will they spit in your food?



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  8. I disagree with people who

    I disagree with people who are saying that the restaurant and its servers should have "taken the high road" and served Ms. Sanders. We are living in times when comapnies and individuals are being provided legal protections for deciding whether or not to provide commercial services to others and I don't work at the restraurant; so, I'll stand by the principle that it was their call (not my call) to make. And I'll support them for making that call.

  9. I do not think this is good.

    I do not think this is good.  There will be backlash, and it gives fuel to the belief that gays are dangerous and need to be suppressed.  Having said that, I in no way believe this administration or any of its personnel are worthy of my time.  We are a nation of open hatred and assault at will… and translated that is anarchy…brought on and encouraged by none other than the resident of the White House.  We have sunk as low as they are.  But I will work to keep my money away from businesses and organizations that promote discrimination.

  10. The Red Hen got it’s ten

    The Red Hen got it's ten minutes of fame. Now they will deal with the consequences.This is business suicide you never refuse to serve someone on political views or any other views. The owner should have put a server on the table who wasn't gay. I don't se this ending well for you. Go on the internet and see what is going on about your restaurant. I wish you well.

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  12. I’m really confused, so it’s

    I’m really confused, so it’s not okay for people to not serve gay people because of religious beliefs, but it is okay to not serve people because of their political views?  This makes no sense at all. 

    • Though I do not feel all that

      Though I do not feel all that sorry for Ms. Sanders and crew, anymore than I felt sorry for Secretary Kneeland facing protestors while eating, it is wrong. We are strongest and at our best when we are a principled nation, but where we have such an unprincipled leader, I suppose this is what happens. Ms. Sanders should have been served and allowed to remain. 

    • The difference is that the

      The difference is that the baker's discriminated based on an inherent trait (sexuality), something that the couple has no control over. They didn't choose to be gay. Sarah Sanders was refused service for actively CHOOSING to work for an administration that is attacking the rights of lgbt people. She is fully complicit in the damage he is doing.

      • They are refusing her based

        They are refusing her based on her political views, there is no difference! She works for the trump administration but that doesn’t mean she agrees with him on everything he does. Do you know how many people work administrations and have bad mouthed the president….Hillary Clinton just happens to be one. 

        • They are refusing her based

          They are refusing her based on her political views, there is no difference!

          If you think that there's no difference in treating someone poorly for being born a certain way, vs treating someone poorly for their actions; then you're the type of person who would jail gay people just for being gay, the same way you'd jail a person for their poor actions.



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