White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Lexington, Va., restaurant last night just minutes after she’d arrived with her party of eight to the 26-seat eatery.
“I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, Va., to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted Saturday morning. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
The Washington Post spoke with the owner of the Red Hen, Stephanie Wilkinson, about how it all happened.
The kitchen was already preparing the party’s main course. It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served—that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.
All the same, she was tense as she walked up to the press secretary’s chair.
“I said, ‘I’m the owner. I’d like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.'”
They stepped outside, into another small enclosure, but at least out of the crowded restaurant.
“I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” Wilkinson said. “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.'”
Sanders’s response was immediate, Wilkinson said: “‘That’s fine. I’ll go.'”
Naturally, the situation has divided social media, and led to calls to both protest the Red Hen and support it. It’s also prompted some humorous tweets:
The Red Hen should have just taken Sarah Sanders’ order, then spent an hour saying, “We’ll get back to you on that.”
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) June 23, 2018