Red Hen Restaurant

AP Photo/Daniel Lin

De Blasio: Restaurant's Choice To Boot Press Secretary Sanders Was 'Not Right Approach'

June 25, 2018 - 3:33 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that a Virginia restaurant owner was wrong to kick out White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, de Blasio is far from a friend of the Trump administration. But he is not a fan of the actions of the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

The restaurant refused service to Sanders because she works for President Donald Trump.

“I appreciate; I think the folks at that restaurant were acting from the heart, and I think a lot of them are very troubled by what they see in the country and were expressing it,” de Blasio said. “But I don’t think it’s the right approach. I think when it comes to all public accommodations, everyone needs to be respected.”

De Blasio added that no one should be refused service in a public enterprise, noting that it should be fair and equal treatment for everyone.

He said those who disagree with the administration should express it politically by voting or going to protests.

President Trump on Monday trash-talked the restaurant.

Trump said in a tweet Monday morning that The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia "should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders.''

The president, an admitted germophobe, added: "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!''
The restaurant's co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post that her reasons for asking Sanders to leave included the concerns of employees who were gay and knew Sanders had defended Trump's desire to bar transgender people from the military.

Sanders' treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion with people on both sides weighing in with their critique, including her father, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

"Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the 'Hate Plate,'" Huckabee said in a tweet, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes. "And appetizers are 'small plates for small minds.'"

On Yelp, a reviewer of the restaurant from Los Angeles wrote: "Don't eat here if you're a Republican, wearing a MAGA hat or a patriot."

But many reviewers were also supportive of the restaurant owner's actions.

"12/10 would recommend. Bonus: this place is run by management who stuck up for their beliefs and who are true Americans. THANK YOU!!!!" said a reviewer from Commerce City, Colorado.

The separation of families trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border has intensified political differences and passions that were already at elevated levels during the Trump presidency.

Last week, Trump's homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington after protesters shouted, "Shame!" until she left.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)