Red Hen Bar and Grill in California is facing the repercussions of being mistaken for the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, where White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave Friday night because of her association with the president.
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The independently owned restaurant along Highway 29 in Napa, nearly 3,000 miles from the incident in Virginia that made national news, has been caught in the political crossfire, owner Norm Sawicki said.
“We got lots of phone calls,” Sawicki, who told ABC News he has been the sole owner for over 35 years, said, adding that some of them were threatening.
Weekend business was down more than 30 percent, he said.
The backlash in Napa started Saturday after Sanders tweeted that the owner of Lexington’s Red Hen had asked her to leave because she works for President Donald Trump. Within the hour, Sawicki said, the Napa restaurant had received over 485 Yelp comments, almost all negative, assuming the restaurant was part of a chain.
“Political views are not something I like served with my food.” Dagan J. wrote on Yelp. “Unfortunate turn of events for you and your establishment.”
Zeny M. posted, “I will not patronize any of Red Hen Restaurant or any restaurant who won't treat any customer who would give them business the respect and service they deserve.”
Sawicki responded, “Zeny, we are a completely independent and unrelated restaurant in California.”
His staff was forced to close down the company Facebook page because of the negative posts, while Yelp issued an “Active Cleanup Alert” on the Napa Red Hen Bar and Grill page, stating they, “work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.”
The confusion has created plenty of stress for the restaurant owner, who was blindsided by the political madness. “We are a local restaurant, not political,” Sawicki said. “We don’t refuse service to anyone.”
Sawicki said he would love to invite Sanders to his Mexican cantina.
“We’ve got really good food,” he said, “and a very clean restaurant.”