The D.C. restaurant Red Hen is getting death threats after a Virginia restaurant with the same name — but no other connection —asked the White House press secretary to leave.
Red Hen in Northwest D.C. has been flooded with harassing calls, emails and posts to social media for days, chef and co-owner Mike Friedman said Monday. On Friday, about 200 miles from D.C., the co-owner of the Lexington, Virginia, restaurant The Red Hen asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave. While the restaurants share the same name, they are not affiliated in any way.
"This is something you don't want to deal with. This is not something that is exciting to deal with, especially when there are threats coming in," Friedman said.
The D.C. restaurant was even egged.
Friedman said he reported the threats to police. On the front window, sheets of paper that spell out #NotThatRedHen are posted.
Friedman said he was pleased to get messages of support and sympathy, but that he just wanted the confusion to end.
"I would love for it to go away," he said.
The Red Hen in D.C. isn't the only Red Hen dealing with angry calls and reviews. Similarly named restaurants in Connecticut and New Jersey are having the same problem.
If Sanders did visit the Red Hen in D.C., the chef said he would welcome her. He said the restaurant "gives people their privacy and the enjoyment that they deserve when they come through our doors, regardless of their political affiliation or anything else."
Sanders tweeted over the weekend that she was asked to leave the restaurant in Lexington by its owner Friday evening because she worked for Trump's Republican administration. Sanders said that she "politely left" and that the owner's "actions say far more about her than about me."
"Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important," she told reporters at a White House briefing on Monday. "But the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable."
Sanders added: "We are allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. And this goes for all people regardless of politics."
The Lexington restaurant's co-owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but she told The Washington Post that her reasons for booting Sanders included the concerns of employees who were gay and knew Sanders had defended Trump's desire to bar transgender people from serving in the military.
"Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,'' Wilkinson told her staff, she said. "They said yes.''
Wilkinson said that she talked to Sanders privately and Sanders' response was immediate: "That's fine. I'll go.''
Trump trash-talked the Virginia restaurant himself on Monday. He said in a tweet that The Red Hen "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!'' added Trump, an admitted germophobe, who has said he prefers eating at fast food chains rather than independent eateries because he trusts them more.
Photographs of the restaurant appear to show no evidence of serious disrepair to the red building with hunter green awnings and white doors and trim, though recent images appear to show some awning wear.
The restaurant passed its latest state health inspection without any violations, NBC News reported. Past years showed minor or no violations.
In contrast, Trump-owned and Trump-branded properties including the Mar-a-Lago resort and DJT steakhouse at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas have faced past violations over food safety.