NAPA, Calif. (KTVU) - The owner of a Red Hen restaurant more than 2,000 miles away from a restaurant with the same name that kicked out White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on “moral grounds” is trying to separate the two eateries and their philosophical ideals.
Norman Sawicki, who has owned the Red Hen Bar and Grill in Napa on Solano Avenue for 35 years, told KTVU on Wednesday that he thinks the owner of The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia is an “a—hole” for booting Sanders and her family on Friday because she works for President Donald Trump.
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. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
“There’s no reason to turn away someone like that,” Sawicki said. “It’s just rude. You should serve people despite their politics.” When asked what his political affiliation is, Sawicki declined to comment.
Virginia Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson has since stepped down as an executive director of Main Street Lexington, an organization tasked with promoting economic viability, Fox News has learned.
Sawicki never thought he’d have a voice in this cross-country scuffle.
He had no idea that Trump had sided with Sanders and disparaged the Virginia restaurant. “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 tweeted. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
Thanks to the internet, people all over the country decided to lambaste the Red Hen. But hundreds have confused Sawicki’s Red Hen, which is a Mexican cantina, with the Virginia one, which boasts a “farm-to-table New American cuisine in rustic-chic quarters.”
“Was I surprised? Yeah,” Sawicki said. “I sure was when 480 Yelp reviews started coming in within minutes.” Most of the those reviews were negative, mistakenly blaming his restaurant for being “nasty” to Sanders.
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— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
Tanya Berry, General Manager of the Red Hen in Napa read some of the nasty messages she received. "I pray your restaurant goes into the toilet. We're sick of scum like you," wrote one person.
Customer Anthea Johnson came to Napa's Red Hen for lunch on Wednesday to show her support amid the misplaced reactions. "I'm not going to say kicking Sarah out of a restaurant because of her political views was justified, but her reaction and how people responded is not okay."
For now, Sawicki is trying to figure out how to work with Yelp to get those reviews taken down, and doing interviews to let the public know that his restaurant serves everyone.
“I’m hoping this just blows over pretty soon,” he said.