- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2019

An owner of a Virginia restaurant that made headlines last year for refusing to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has penned a new op-ed saying Trump administration officials “should consider dining at home.”

Stephanie Wilkinson, co-owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, wrote a piece for The Washington Post on Friday that said businesses have no legal or moral obligation to do business with “unsavory” individuals. She was responding to two recent incidents in Tennessee and Illinois where restaurant workers made their opinions known. In the latter instance, a Chicago cocktail server allegedly spat upon President Trump’s son Eric Trump and was detained by Secret Service.

Ms. Wilkinson wrote that she doesn’t condone “the physical assault of a patron,” but she does recognize how restaurants have become “part of the soundstage for our ongoing national spectacle.”

“If you’re an unsavory individual — of whatever persuasion or affiliation — we have no legal or moral obligation to do business with you,” she wrote. “Because — and this is important and easily overlooked — at bottom this isn’t about politics. It’s about values, and accountability to values, in business. … The rules have shifted.

“The high-profile clashes rarely involve one citizen fussing at another over the entrees,” she continued. “It’s more often a frustrated person (some of whom are restaurant employees) lashing out at the representatives of an administration that has made its name trashing norms and breaking backs. Not surprising, if you think about it: You can’t call people your enemies by day and expect hospitality from them in the evening.



“So when the day comes that the world feels returned to its normal axis, I expect we’ll see fewer highly charged encounters making headlines,” she added. “In the meantime, the new rules apply. If you’re directly complicit in spreading hate or perpetuating suffering, maybe you should consider dining at home. For the rest, your table is waiting.”

Ms. Wilkinson and her restaurant sparked national headlines one year ago after she confronted Mrs. Sanders inside the restaurant and asked her and her guests to leave. Mrs. Sanders later said she obliged and that Ms. Wilkinson’s actions “say far more about her than about me.”

Ms. Wilkinson has remained unapologetic since the incident, saying she would do it again if given the chance.

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