Perhaps it’s a lesson in simple economics: Don’t enrage your customers, especially with politics.
In the wake of the June incident in which White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave The Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, because she works for President Trump, the local area is suffering a serious financial slump.
Now, officials with Rockbridge Regional Tourism Board have approved a measure to bolster the marketing of the area after the Red Hen ouster sparked a national fury.
Members from Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County met with the Lexington City Council, and “each locality agreed the region was in desperate need of positive coverage after The Red Hen incident,” reported the Roanoke Times.
The paper noted: “Director of Marketing Patty Williams said the area is still feeling effects from the controversy – the tourism office received a letter Thursday from a family in Georgia who said they would never come back to the area because of what happened. And during the immediate aftermath of the incident, the tourism office received thousands of phone calls and emails.”
Williams said, “For a town our size, it was a significant impact.”
An additional $5,000 per month is being spent from the tourism board’s emergency fund to help improve local traffic.
As WND previously reported, the Virginia restaurant owner who kicked out Sanders didn’t stop her political activism after Sarah and her family left, according to Sanders’ father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee told Laura Ingraham on her radio show that Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner of The Red Hen, followed family members to a restaurant across the street, where she organized a protest.
Huckabee explained that his daughter and her husband went home after they were kicked out of The Red Hen – “they had had enough” – but the rest of the accompanying family members went across the street to a different restaurant.
“The owner of The Red Hen then followed them across the street, called people and organized a protest, yelling and screaming at them from outside the other restaurant and creating this scene,” he told Ingraham.
Huckabee noted that most of her husband’s family members – not her parents in-law – are “liberal,” and “one of them walked out and said, ‘Look, I don’t like Trump. I’m not a supporter, I’m considered liberal, but you guys are embarrassing me, and you’re not helping the cause.”
The family member pointed out that Sarah Sanders wasn’t even present.
“This is what the left has been reduced to,” Huckabee said. “It’s really tragic. And it is dangerous.”
At the time, Democrats and establishment media had been fiercely protesting a policy in effect under the Obama administration that requires children to be temporarily separated from parents who are being prosecuted for crossing the U.S. border illegally. Trump issued an executive order in June to ensure the children stay with their families while urging Congress to come up with a permanent solution.
‘The restaurant has certain standards’
Ingraham cited news reports saying Wilkinson decided to boot Sanders from her restaurant after taking a vote of employees, some of whom are gay.
Wilkinson said she asked Sanders and her husband to step outside after they already had started eating appetizers.
“I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” Wilkinson said. “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion and cooperation.
“I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’ ”
Wilkinson said he didn’t know how Sanders would react.
According to the restaurant owner, Sanders immediately responded, “That’s fine. I’ll go.”
Sanders tweeted at the time: “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.”
“The Red Hen Restaurant 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,” Trump wrote.