A small town in Virginia made the news after one of its restaurants, the Red Hen, refused service to the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The owner then chased Sanders’ in-laws across the street to another restaurant and reportedly harassed them there. it appears that the small town may be suffering the consequences of the image sent out by that owner’s actions.
Lexington, Virginia has suffered a tourism hit, ever since the Sanders incident in June.
From Fox News:
The area’s regional tourism board is pulling together emergency funds to boost its digital marketing campaign, the Roanoke Times reported Sunday. The money is normally saved, however, officials agreed the region is in desperate need of positive coverage after the Sanders controversy.
The tourism board serves Lexington, Va., where The Red Hen is located, and other communities that are about three hours from Washington, D.C.
Following the incident, the tourism board was flooded with thousands of calls and emails — and the complaints are still coming. The office received a letter Thursday from a Georgia family that wrote to say it would never return because of what happened.
That’s a lot of negative reaction for a small town to recover from, said Patty Williams, the director of marketing said, saying it had a “significant impact.”
People dinged the Red Hen restaurants in reviews. Protesters even came out to the restaurant and it was shut down for a couple of weeks.
And the owner had to resign from the local business board that she was on after her actions because harassing people was not the look they wanted.
From PJ Media:
Local businesses were reportedly appalled by Wilkinson’s “small-minded and intolerant” decision to boot Sanders from her restaurant and at the time, some called on her to step down from her position as executive director of the volunteer-based organization Main Street Lexington.
Wilkinson resigned from the position on June 26.
“Considering the events of the past weekend, Stephanie felt it best, that for the continued success of Main Street Lexington, she should step aside,” said Elizabeth Branner, president of the Main Street Lexington Board of Directors.
Sanders dealt with it with great dignity, just getting up and quietly leaving when the owner asked her to leave.
But maybe the town should invite her back and try to remediate the negative with a positive, showing they want to be welcoming to all.