As tempers flare over immigration and other policies, it’s getting harder for top Trump administration officials to enjoy a good meal anywhere near Washington D.C.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she and her family members were ousted from a Lexington, Virginia, restaurant Friday night by an owner who wanted her to leave because she works for President Donald Trump.
Sanders confirmed the incident on Twitter after a waiter posted about it on social media. “Her actions say far more about her than about me,” she tweeted about the owner of the Red Hen restaurant. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
The incident comes days after protesters assailed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington, just as the administration was coming under fire for its policy of separating undocumented immigrant families at the U.S. border with Mexico.
And according to the New York Post, White House aide Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump’s immigration policy, was called a “fascist” by a fellow customer last weekend at a hip south-of-the-border eatery in D.C.
People were quick to take sides over Sanders’s treatment at the Red Hen, a cozy, upscale venue that serves farm-to-table regional food including trout grenobloise, braised leg of lamb, and peach and blackberry shortcake.
Sanders’s ouster was first disclosed by someone who said he was her waiter, and posted on Facebook about it before others took it to viral levels on Twitter.
“I just served Sarah huckabee sanders for a total of 2 minutes before my owner kicked her out along with 7 of her other family members” wrote Jaike Foley-Schultz.
It didn’t take long before the restaurant’s reviews on Yelp were jammed with opinions about the owner’s move, pro and con.
“Hateful ownership,” one person posted. “Hope they go out of business soon. Discrimination of any kind is wrong. So sad.”
Another poster drew a comparison between the Red Hen owner’s actions and the recent Supreme Court decision that a Colorado baker shouldn’t be forced to make cakes for same-sex weddings he disapproves of on religious grounds.
“If the GOP can push through and have the Supreme Court allow a business to discriminate against customers for religious purposes, then they should be able to do the same for moral reasons! Hurts when policy comes back to bite you, doesn’t it, SHS?!”
Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, came to his daughter’s defense, saying on Twitter that the incident was one of “bigotry,” and that Red Hen’s appetizers were “small plates for small minds.”
Huckabee, now a conservative media commentator, had his own social media controversy on Saturday when he tweeted a photo of tattooed gang members with the message “Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back (sic) of the House,” referring to the House Minority Leader.
Lexington is located about 190 miles (304 kilometers) south west of the nation’s capital, in the rural Shenandoah Valley. The town of about 7,000 is home to Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute.
(An earlier version corrected the name of the Virginia Military Institute)
(Updates with Mike Huckabee tweet in 14th paragraph.)