Red Hen Restaurant a Year later after asking Sarah Huckabee to leave

chijim

Remind me again of all that civility on the right....


A pleasant reminder that all is not lost

by digby

From today's Washington Post:
“Hello Intolerant, intellectually-challenged, psychotic, socialists!

Your so-called business is in jeopardy. Rest assured this is not a threat but simply a warning that predicts your downfall. . . . When your treasonist hypocrite lowlife Obama took our nation into despair (for 8 yrs) we didn’t do or say the things you do. Get over it, before it’s too late! BTW, there are a lot more of us than there are of you.’’

I’ve been getting hate mail for almost a year now, ever since I asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to leave my Lexington, Va., restaurant, the Red Hen, last June.

At the time, the country was in turmoil over the Trump administration’s heinous practice of separating children from their parents at our southern border. In our tiny 26-seat restaurant, the horror felt simultaneously immediate and far away.

The Red Hen in Lexington, Va. (Daniel Lin/AP)

Faced with the prospect of serving a fine meal to a person whose actions in the service of our country we felt violated basic standards of humanity, we balked. We couldn’t do it.

I took Ms. Sanders aside and politely suggested she leave. She agreed, equally politely. She may or may not have expected this day would come, but she never showed any sign of outrage, or even much surprise. We’d drawn a line; she’d accepted it.

I’m pretty sure both of us thought that was the end of the matter.

When I awoke the next morning, social media was on fire. The incident had gone from a Facebook post to a tagged tweet to nationally trending news with the whoosh of lighter fluid to a flame.

The blowback was swift and aggressive. Within 24 hours, the restaurant’s phone line was hacked, my staff and I were doxxed, and threats to our lives and families and property were pouring in through every available channel. Protesters colonized the streets around the restaurant. Thousands of fake Yelp reviews torpedoed our ratings, and dozens of people attempted to lock up our tables with reservations they had no intention of honoring. Pundits lamented the prospect of “red restaurants” and “blue restaurants.” In less than three days, President Trump had mocked us on Twitter.

[Dana Milbank: The White House revoked my press pass. It’s not just me — it’s curtailing access for all journalists.]

In the days following, I tried to balance fears for the safety of my family and staff against the reality of being well-protected in a small, loving community. Overhanging it all was a sense that I’d seen this show before; don’t we all have ringside seats to the outrage circus these days? But there was plenty I couldn’t predict or assess: How likely was it, really, that the guy texting me from a Minneapolis area code was really going to come to town to set fire to our restaurant? It felt impossible to know.

When the mail started pouring in, things got weirder. For the first few days the rubber-banded bundles fit into my letter carrier’s shoulder bag. But soon he was forced to heft large white plastic totes overflowing with letters and packages up to my door.

Staring at it all made my stomach clench. It’s one thing to set filters on your email, reset your privacy settings on Instagram and block callers on your phone. It’s a whole different feeling to face a mountain of mail dwarfing your living-room sofa, not knowing which contain abuse (or worse) and which appreciation.

The realness of that mail struck me. Paper correspondence carries all the marks of genuine humans, people who feel strongly enough about the whole event that they take on all those little tasks of letter writing — tracking down paper or card, composing their thoughts, handwriting or printing it out, locating our address and getting it into the mail.

In more than 4,000 painstakingly typed letters, hastily scrawled postcards, and feces-smeared notebook pages, I was branded a racist, a bigot and a hypocrite. A victim of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” I was an idiot, or worse, and a lousy manager. Sure, I’d 86’d Sanders, but it was my business that was going down the drain.

Yet, as I kept opening the letters, I saw a pattern. For every hateful message, there was one of gratitude. For every angry accusation that our actions were driven by the inability to accept Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, there was a note of thanks from someone lamenting Trump’s rollback of protections for marginalized people. What’s more, for every wish that our business die a painful death, there was a dollar bill or a generous check or an order for a gift certificate.

When we opened after a 10-day hiatus, our dining room was full. In the following weeks, people who had never been to the Shenandoah Valley traveled out of their way to eat with us. Hundreds of orders for our Red Hen spice blend poured in. And the love spread far beyond our door, as supporters sent thousands of dollars in donations in our honor to our local food pantry, our domestic violence shelter and first responders.

After nearly a year, I’m happy to say that business is still good. Better than good, actually. And besides the boost to our area charities, our town’s hospitality and sales revenue have gone up, too.

Our haters may have believed that there were more of “them” than of “us,” but it turns out we have more than enough to keep us cooking. And to everyone who might be fearful about taking a stand, I say don’t be. Resistance is not futile, for you or your business.

I'm glad to hear it.

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Comments (57)
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Annie Deighnaugh

Interesting...Penzey's sales went up like crazy after they published an open letter critical of trump.

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freeshoesfsu

that combined with trump's business sinking !

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Prim Rose

I think the hate is a torrent. it keeps coming and coming. The right is a very angry little group. Maybe if they upped their self awareness .....



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Jane

The RWingers aren’t self aware enough to be even minimally self aware.

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dandyfopp

I will have to check them out next time I am in that neck of the woods.

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mrskjun(9)

You mean it was RWingers that forced Sarah Sanders and her family from that restaurant?

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pippabean,

kjun - she wasn't "forced" she was asked. Politely.

The owners on the other hand received hundreds of mailed death threats.

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Stan Areted

You mean it was RWingers that forced Sarah Sanders and her family from that restaurant?

No, it was not, was it, mrskjun?

Bullies band together.

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Joaniepoanie

Yes, Trump and the Republicans.....bullies all.

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sunflower_petal(5a)

mrskjun, it was Rwingers (to use your term) that doxxed the employees, sent threats, made fake reservations, and made fake reviews. mimi was always complaining about people being doxxed.

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HU-87154335

It was the stinking republicans who bullied and acted just like their leader . I would have asked the Huckster to leave too.

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Ziemia(6a)

Some TrumpFans decided sending arson (and worse) threats was the proper response.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Not a fan of what Trump's supporters are doing. Not a fan of asking Huckabee to leave the restaurant. We can't turn every interaction into the Nurenburg Trials.

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

I'm curious.

When a baker refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding this is to be defended.

When a chef refuses to make dinner for a proven liar this is to be condemned.

Do I have that about right?

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margievank

Well, Obama was a proven liar and their are chefs making dinner for him.

How about that?

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

I certainly have never defended bakers or florists or anyone not serving the public based on their personal beliefs. If you have a shop, you serve all takers. The only exception i make is for not forcing religions to change their tenets to accommodate marriage equality, for example. Marriage in this country is a civil matter. But I digress. Bottom line for me is if you are open to the public, you serve the public.

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Prim Rose

As the owner attests, it's a minority who piled on the hate. Guess the owner should've died for her sins. According to the nut jobs.

SHS not only lies, a lot, she supports children being separated from their families. When it comes to vulnerable people of any age, dinner in a restaurant is a big nothing. Sarah walked out, the exchange was polite, and the restaurant has a booming business.

I think the haters will hold onto this in their grudgy way. The owner has moved on.

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enegiram

Again, they must bring either Obama or Clinton into EVERY thread, when they can't defend the indefensible......you sure don't disappoint, wingers!

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Lue

"Well, Obama was a proven liar "

Trump lies everytime he opens his puckered little mouth. You don't have a problem with that.


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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

(My comment wasn't directed at you Zalco. It probably looks like that since it is directly below yours so I'm sorry for that!)

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miss lindsey (still misses Sophie)(8a)

How about what margie?

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vgkg Z-7 Va(Z-7)

Lies vs Food contest? Obama would gain weight while trump starves to death.

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mrskjun(9)

The left must be thrilled that their boycott of CFA has sent them to the third most popular fast food restaurant. And their boycott of Hannity advertisers has made him number one in cable news.

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sunflower_petal(5a)

I never boycotted CFA. And I don't even know who advertises on Hannity.

The left is not as involved as you think, mrskjun.

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dandyfopp

I just had CFA the other day.

OK, as fast food goes.

The article states the interaction was polite, and crazed Donnie fans responded with death threats and smearing excrement on notebooks?


To be expected.


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chase_gw

What's funny is that Mrs seems to think that people go to CFA or watch Hannity because a small segment of activists, or advertisers , boycotted them not because of their product.

They go to CFA because they like the chicken and they watch Hannity because the like the bull.


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Annie Deighnaugh

Do restaurants still have signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"?

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lurker111

The article states the interaction was polite

Discriminating against someone is never polite. Sara isn't a crazed liberal. Of course, she politely left the property, and probably didn't realize she had stepped into a mental ward.

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Jane

Obama was a proven liar and their are chefs making dinner for him.

In 828 days, President Trump has made 10,111 false or misleading claims

How about that?

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palisades_

Do restaurants still have signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"?

If they still have those signs, it would be a great idea to use them as a front for discriminating people of colors, among other kinds.

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mrskjun(9)

LOL you must have missed the predictions here chase. The boycott of CFA...someone said just wait to see their sales a year from now. Didn't turn out like they thought. Usually doesn't.

The left has called for three or four different boycott's of Hannity advertisers. Oh well!

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mrskjun(9)

I've noticed some restaurants with signs that say, Pull up your pants for service!

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sunflower_petal(5a)

And the right has never called for a boycott of anything, eh? Or done things as dirty as described by this restaurant owner (which is worst than a peaceful boycott).


There was one right-sanctioned boycott pretty recently, but I don't remember what it was. I remember being amused.

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Jane

Do restaurants still have signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"?

If they still have those signs, it would be a great idea to use them as a front for discriminating people of colors, among other kinds.

Right wing businesses don't need the signs any more. Trump has made it legal for right wing businesses to discriminate against people of color, LGBTQ, and just generally people they don't like.

Shouldn't businesses from normal, decent Americans have the same right?

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dandyfopp

A lot of times the Donnie fans boycott by destroying their own property, Keurig and Nike come to mind. I don't think they understand what a boycott is really.


Anyway, I think Sarah should probably get used to being shunned.

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Webuser 107388825(7a)

I have no love for Sarah. It really bothers me that this "christian" woman lies so easily

However, I don't think the restaurant should have asked her to leave

unless she was causing a disturbance. The left needs to learn to pick their battles.

This just played right into the hands of the right.

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Annie Deighnaugh

Well, the difference is that it's illegal to deny service to people based on the protected categories: gender, race, creed, etc., but not for other reasons. They've discriminated against smokers for years, and certainly, "no shoes no shirts no service" has been around a long time.

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sunflower_petal(5a)

" This just played right into the hands of the right. "

Maybe, but it certainly brought a very national kind of attention to the lying of White House staff.

I would not have done it myself, but I have mixed emotions about someone else doing it.

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Jane

unless she was causing a disturbance

Her presence is a disturbance, and enough to make most people nauseous

That's hardly conducive to a pleasant meal

Once other diners realized who she was, there may well have been a mass exodus from the restaurant by decent Americans.

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judeNY_gw

Ethically challenged liars are not a protected group. She made herself a public figure, she reaps the consequences of her actions.

In this case a very minor consequence. The faux outrage is laughable.

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lurker111

Well, the difference is that it's illegal to deny service to people
based on the protected categories: gender, race, creed, etc.,

Politics and religion fall under the same clause as sexual discrimination.

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Webuser 107388825(7a)

She only causes a disturbance if you let her presence disturb you.

We didn't need this incident to know that she gets up at her little podium and lies.

I have an emotional reaction to any man wearing a baseball hat in a restaurant.

I was raised to believe hats were not to be worn inside and it annoys the heck out of me

that I have to look at men wearing hats at almost all the restaurants I go to. Should all

these men be kicked out so I can enjoy my meal?

Silly . and I think just as silly to expect to never run into a person such as Sanders who we despise.

Sometimes the left shoots themselves in the foot with this kind of behavior.

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vgkg Z-7 Va(Z-7)

I was rejected from a new Italian restaurant that opened here about 15 years ago, for wearing shorts on a hot day. It wasn't a fancy pants place either, not a suit & tie joint. The hostess wouldn't let me past the entrance, so I said "even with nice legs like these"? She wasn't amused, I didn't put up a fuss so we went elsewhere for dinner. They went out of business in less than a year.

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Stan Areted

Some people take "casual" too far.

I don't eat out as much as I used to--food has too many additives, service is generally not very good, it's crowded because it's no longe a treat people eat off their credit cards in restaurants, and it takes too long.

However, the occasions I do go out the last thing I want to see is flip flops, dirty feet, t shirts with writing on them, tattoos and arm hair, muscle shirts, cut offs, short shorts, bra straps, hair that hasn't been combed.


You find this now in chain restaruants that ten or fifteen years ago used to be "okay."

Finer dining as you describe vgkg, of course requires jacket for men, the restaurant you described I'm a little surprised they didn't allow your shorts. Of course it depends on the shorts--microfiber longer bermuda type shorts with loafers, a nice polo shirt or RL type button down are generally accepted--maybe their rules was no shorts because people would show up in cutoffs or women would. Who knows.

Hope you found a good Italian meal after all.

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vgkg Z-7 Va(Z-7)

We went to a Greek place down the street, no problem. The Italian place had no warning signs posted and my attire was nice with a button up shirt and good shoes & socks, shorts were typical down to my knees, not cut offs.. My legs would have been under the table out of sight, the hostess may have been in a bad mood.

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margievank

LOL vgkg- you guys ALWAYS want to bend the rules with your justifications. If the restaurant calls for NO shorts then that should mean NO shorts.

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bleusblue2

margievank

LOL vgkg- you guys ALWAYS want to bend the rules with your justifications. If the restaurant calls for NO shorts then that should mean NO shorts.

~~~~

"you guys"???

this isn't a left/right issue

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Stan Areted

Sounds like you dressed quite appropriately, probably better than a lot of people with "long pants."

Don't know how old you are doesn't matter but gather from posts from many of us we are of Baby Boomer range and we tend to be more respectful in our dress as a whole--not to start a fight lots of young people dress so smartly and appropriately. Then again I'll retract that--nothing worse than the 70 year old women in tank tops with dripping tattoos on their arms, chests, back and legs, cigarettes hanging from their mouths and perpetual flip flips and unshavne nasty old men with smelly t shirts and dirty jeans. But generally these people don't hang out where they can't get beer and yell. ;)

You never know, but if you're like me, you won't bother with that restaurant again and make sure your friends know about the poor service and treatment.

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HU9999

You mean it was RWingers that forced Sarah Sanders and her family from that restaurant?

Did you not read the OP or did you not understand it?

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Annie Deighnaugh

Federally protected categories include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Familial Status
  • National Origin
  • Citizenship status

Politics isn't one of them.

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HU9999

The left must be thrilled that their boycott of CFA has sent them to the third most popular fast food restaurant. And their boycott of Hannity advertisers has made him number one in cable news.

Interesting.

You used to claim that CFA was the #1 fast food restaurant after the boycott without any supporting evidence (as is your way). Then someone pointed out you were wrong. You've now adjusted that to #3. Good for you!

Now you claim Hannity is the #1 cable news show without supporting evidence.

Hmmmm....anyone see a pattern here?

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HU9999

There was one right-sanctioned boycott pretty recently, but I don't remember what it was. I remember being amused.

I believe it was Nike? And they also made big shows of destroying their already purchased Nike merchandise. Nobody every claimed they were smart!

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lurker111

Federally protected categories include:

You need to reread my comment.

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rhoder551 zone 9b-10

The RW are perpetually boycotting some hollywood celebrity or another.... Poor Meryl, Lol.

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dandyfopp

HU999... they set their Nikes on fire and posted many pics and dramatic videos of the deed. Very amusing.

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vgkg Z-7 Va(Z-7)

LOL vgkg- you guys ALWAYS want to bend the rules with your justifications. If the restaurant calls for NO shorts then that should mean NO shorts.

Hey now margo, I didn't make a stink about it, VgQn was looking forward to Italian but it didn't matter to me or my shorts, the Greek food down the block was great. The restaurant didn't "call for" anything, first sign was the hostess objection to my legs, I complied. Since it was closed down less than a year later I didn't cry for them, they're loss.

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artemis_ma

I'm not particularly good at this boycotting thing.

I don't like fried chicken breast, and CFA doesn't serve dark meat. There's no Hobby Lobby for hundreds of miles around (apparently). Nike sneakers don't fit me.

I did decide NOT to purchase Nestle's chocolate chips when last I made dessert. (Chocolate blueberry clusters. Yum.)

Regards that restaurant - I think the owner made the wrong decision in asking the patron Sarah Huckabee to leave. BUT the tons of people that went out of their way to create a living hell were and are far worse human beings than anyone connected to that restaurant.

Just decide not to patronize the place, for heaven's sake!

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