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Restaurant That Kicked Out Republican Governor Closes Its Doors

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A Virginia restaurant that made headlines in 2018 after its owner kicked out then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for being a conservative is closing its doors.

The Red Hen, located in Lexington, Virginia, was the subject of negative headlines in June 2018 when owner Stephanie Wilkinson asked the then-press secretary and seven others she was dining with at the restaurant to leave.

Wilkinson, during an interview with The Washington Post at the time, explained she was at home when her employees called her to inform her that Sanders and her family had been seated in The Red Hen.

She said she drove to the restaurant to confirm the now-Arkansas governor was indeed dining in at the establishment.

Per Wilkinson, her staff was “concerned.”

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Numerous employees identified as being part of the LGBT community and were upset that then-President Donald Trump had banned so-called “transgender” individuals from the military.

The owner of the restaurant told the Post she personally found the Trump administration to be “inhumane and unethical.”

“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson told the paper. “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 asked Sanders to speak with her privately before she asked her to leave.

“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation,” Wilkinson said.

She said she then addressed Sanders and stated, “I’d like to ask you to leave.”

The then-face of the White House respected the decision and dined elsewhere.

In a comment on social media about being expelled by The Red Hen, Sanders later stated:

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. 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.”

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Five years later, The Lexington News-Gazette reported on Wednesday that the restaurant will close at the end of the year.

No reason was offered for the imminent closure, but Wilkinson will shut down The Red Hen and attempt to reopen a new restaurant under a different name.

Wilkinson did not say what the new name of the restaurant will be or when it will reopen.

Matt Adams, the chef of The Red Hen, told the News-Gazette that while the establishment is going under, its “core values will live on.”

Lexington is an independent city with a population of about 7,000 people and is somewhat of a liberal enclave in bright-red western Virginia.

But the city is surrounded by Rockbridge County — which overwhelmingly voted for Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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