Red Hen opens nearly two weeks after Sanders controversy with protesters outside
LEXINGTON, Va. (WSET) -- The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington opened Thursday nearly two weeks after asking Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave the facility that led to protests and nationwide controversy.
The only people able to get inside are those with a reservation and they must enter through the side entrance.
In anticipation that the restaurant would open, a group called the Patriot Picket from Maryland, called others to join them in a protest outside after the owner decided to ask Sanders to leave.
Sanders says the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington wanted her to leave the restaurant because of her position in the Trump White House on Saturday, June 22.
The restaurant has been closed ever since.
The owner's decision led to nationwide controversy with many calling for the restaurant to be shut down, while others showed their support and pledged to make their own reservation.
Last week, protesters brought their signs to stand outside the restaurant and one man was arrested for throwing chicken feces at the building.
Lexington, a population of about 7,000, overwhelmingly voted against Trump in the election in a county (Rockbridge County) that voted overwhelmingly for him, according to the Washington Post.
The controversy even reached the President's desk, with Donald Trump tweeting about the restaurant's so-called condition.
Corey Stewart, who is running against current Sen. Tim Kaine for his seat in the Senate, joined a group called Bikers for Trump over the weekend for a ride through and protest at the restaurant.
On Thursday, the day of the restaurant's opening, the Patriot Picket and their group held signs that read 'Love Trumps Hate', 'Hey Red Hen Go Cluck Yourself', and 'Red Hen: Martin Luther King Weeps.'
The group said they understand that the owner, who has resigned from her executive role at a non-profit group in Lexington, didn't break any laws, but they don't believe that anyone should be turned away from a restaurant just because of their political affiliation.
One protester questioned if politics have gone too far.
The owner of the Patriot Picket said people aren't going to be able to change others' opinions while in public and there is a special place, like an official debate, for those who want to argue their opinions and that everyone should feel comfortable going out in public without being turned away.
A few people did stop by the restaurant to make a reservation in support.
A sign on the door showed they were fully booked Thursday night.