News & Opinion | June 24, 2018 12:14 pm

Why Red Hen Owner Refused to Serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Lexington, Va., restaurant at center of national political controversy.

This Saturday, June 23, 2018 photo shows the Red Hen Restaurant in downtown Lexington, Va. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from the Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump.  (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)
This Saturday, June 23, 2018 photo shows the Red Hen Restaurant in downtown Lexington, Va. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from the Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)

A political controversy was served in the most unlikeliest of places — at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., a town of 7,000 that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

But that’s exactly what happened when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a party of eight tried to have a meal in the farm-to-table eatery. When informed by a chef, owner Stephanie Wilkinson decided to expel Sanders and her group.

Wilkinson’s reasoning? Several Red Hen employees are gay, she told the Washington Post and were upset about the Trump administration’s policy of banning transgender people from the military. Then there was the more recent policy separating migrant children from their parents.

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson explained to The Washington Post. “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.”

Wilkinson said she made the decision knowing there could be a backlash that hurt her business.