Restaurant demonstrates political opinion and stirs uproar - Activate World

Restaurant demonstrates political opinion and stirs uproar


Actions speak louder than words, and this weekend The Red Hen Lex restaurant proved just that by showing they will stand by their ethical standards no matter what. On Friday night, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, was refused service due to her previous support for Trump’s anti-LGBTQ and migrant children separation policies.

The manager and owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, reported that several of her staff are included in the LGBTQ community, and they did not feel comfortable serving the press secretary. The matter was not taken lightly or irrationally; Sanders was not asked to leave until after the table received its first course and after the employees voiced their opinion to Wilkinson. She stated that the restaurant has certain brand and moral standards such as compassion, honesty and cooperation to uphold. Wilkinson decided for the peace of the employees and the upkeep of the brand that Sanders be politely asked to vacate the establishment.

Sanders posted the incident on Twitter a day later. On Monday morning, President Trump disparaged the business for refusing service to people based on politics.


  • The result of this uproar has created a split between Red and Blue. Restaurants with the title “Red Hen” have received thousands of threats and hate calls, comments and physical assaults to the buildings from Trump supporters. Yet they have also received a fair amount of support from those who lean Blue.
  • The Sanders incident is not the first instance a politician’s meal has been interrupted. Earlier in the week, protesters shouted, “shame!” at Trump’s homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, at a Mexican restaurant in Washington until she left. A few days earlier, key adviser on immigration Stephen Miller, was accosted by someone at a different Mexican restaurant in the city.
  • After Red Hen Lex took its stand, Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district, predicts that public figures will continue to receive public criticism for their support of Trump’s policies.
  • Several are calling for civility rather than the continued refusal of service tactics. Instead, focusing on organizing and voting are more productive actions.

Quests and Actions (Q&A):

  • Should an establishment refuse service based on political views or support? Does brand and ethical standards trump inclusive service? Are service refusal and interruption tactics a form of discrimination?
  • Where is the line for individual businesses having and expressing a political opinion? What do you predict will happen to the Red Hen Lex in the short and long-term (e.g., flourish or struggle)?
  • If you were the business owner, what action, if any, would have you taken and why? If you choose to let Sanders eat in peace, what would you tell employees to address their concerns while keeping their loyalty and service standards?


Sources: Fox News, The Washington Post, Fortune, Quartz, Time, Vox

Photo by Mervyn Chan on Unsplash