Restaurant That Asked Sarah Sanders to Leave Is Doing 'Better Than Good,' Owner Says 11 Months After Backlash

An owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, who last June asked White House press secretary Sarah Sanders to leave, said her business is doing "better than good" after weathering a barrage of criticism including from President Donald Trump.

"After nearly a year, I'm happy to say that business is still good. Better than good, actually," co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in The Washington Post. "Besides the boost to our area charities, our town's hospitality and sales revenue have gone up, too."

Wilkinson recounted the incident, which she wrote came about at the height of press scrutiny on the Trump administration's "heinous practice" of separating migrant children from their parents, a "horror" felt at her restaurant.

"I took Ms. Sanders aside and politely suggested she leave. She agreed, equally politely," Wilkinson wrote. "She may or may not have expected this day would come, but she never showed any sign of outrage or even much surprise. We'd drawn a line; she'd accepted it."

Wilkinson's refusal to serve Sanders, which led to the press secretary and her family leaving the restaurant, drew tremendous backlash from conservatives. Some alleged that liberals do not face the same level of public scrutiny in everyday life for their political beliefs.

In her opinion piece, Wilkinson mentioned that the president mocked her restaurant on Twitter.

"The Red Hen Restaurant 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," Trump tweeted days after the incident. "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"

Wilkinson said she has not stopped receiving hate mail, including notebook pages smeared with feces. She said she was called a racist, hypocrite and that her business "was going down the drain."

"Yet, as I kept opening the letters, I saw a pattern," she wrote. "For every hateful message, there was one of gratitude."

The restaurant owner said the dining room was full after reopening 10 days after the Sanders incident and that customers came who had never before been to the Shenandoah Valley. In addition, supporters donated to the Red Hen's local food pantry, shelter for domestic violence and first responders.

Wilkinson concluded "resistance is not futile, for you or your business."

"Our haters may have believed that there were more of 'them' than of 'us,'" she wrote, "But it turns out we have more than enough to keep us cooking."

Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Tuesday.

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Sarah Sanders listens as White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert answers questions at a White House briefing September 11, 2017. An owner of the Red Hen restaurant who asked Sanders to leave said her business is doing “better than good” nearly a year later. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Restaurant That Asked Sarah Sanders to Leave Is Doing 'Better Than Good,' Owner Says 11 Months After Backlash | U.S.