Not only does the owner of the Red Hen restaurant have no regrets about kicking out Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she insisted Saturday she would do it all over again, saying people need to “uphold their morals.”
Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the 26-seat eatery in Lexington, Virginia, said she asked the White House press secretary to scoot after receiving a call from her chef at about 8 p.m. Friday alerting her to Ms. Sanders’ presence, then conferring with her staff.
“I would have done the same thing again,” Ms. Wilkinson told the Washington Post. “We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”
Ms. Wilkinson cited the press secretary’s work for the “inhumane and unethical” Trump administration.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “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.”
After a flurry of news reports based on a waiter’s account on Facebook, Ms. Sanders confirmed Saturday that she agreed to leave after being confronted by the owner, adding that, “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”
The Red Hen, which is not affiliated with the Red Hen restaurant in Washington, D.C., was promptly “Yelp-bombed” as thousands of commentators went online to post politically motivated one- and five-star reviews based on the Sanders incident.
The Red Hen’s Facebook page and Twitter account were also deluged with comments ranging from “Thank you for standing up to the fascists” to “Nobody wants to eat at a place that bases service on politics.”
Ms. Sanders’ party of eight had already been served cheese boards when Ms. Wilkinson said she asked to speak to the press secretary outside on the patio.
“I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” said Ms. Wilkinson. “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.
“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave,’” and Ms. Sanders didn’t hesitate, replying, “That’s fine. I’ll go,” according to Ms. Wilkinson.
The other guests at Ms. Sanders’ table offered to pay for the food items already served but Ms. Wilkinson said she told them it was “on the house.”
The incident comes a few days after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled and booed at a Mexican restaurant by other patrons, while White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was reportedly called a “fascist” by another diner at a cantina in Washington, D.C.