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Donald Trump’s press secretary kicked out of restaurant

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says she was booted from a Virginia restaurant by its owner because she works for US President Donald Trump.

Ms Sanders said she was told by the owner of The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, that she had to "leave because I work for POTUS and I politely left".

She said the incident on Friday evening said far more about the owner of the restaurant than it did about her.

"I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so," Ms Sanders said in the tweet from her official account, which generated 22,000 replies in about an hour.

External Link: @PressSec: "Last night I was told by the owner of red Hen in Lexington to leave because I work for POTUS and I politeley left. her actions say far more about her than me…"

Ms Sanders' treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion, with people on both sides weighing in with their critiques, including her father, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

"Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the 'Hate Plate,'" Mr Huckabee said in a tweet, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes.

"And appetizers are 'small plates for small minds.'"

External Link: @waltshaub: "Sarah, I know you don't care even a tiny little bit about the ethics rules…" External Link: @studentactivism: ""I always do my best to treat people I disagree with respectfully, so here's the name and location of some people who wronged me. You know what to do." External Link: @michelleisawolf: "No shirt, no morals, no service"

On Yelp, a reviewer of the restaurant from Los Angeles wrote: "Don't eat here if you're a Republican, wearing a MAGA hat or a patriot."

But many reviewers were also supportive of the restaurant owner's actions.

"12/10 would recommend. Bonus: this place is run by management who stuck up for their beliefs and who are true Americans. THANK YOU!!!!" said a reviewer from Commerce City, Colorado.

Restaurant owner defends actions

Several hours after the incident, restaurant owner Stephanie Wilkinson told her side of the story to the Washington Post.

Lexington, population 7,000, is about a three-hour drive from the nation's capital and is in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

Ms Wilkinson said it was hard to believe the President's press secretary would be dining in a tiny rural restaurant, which seated only 26 patrons.

A tiny red brick building on the corner of a rural street in virginia.

"I'm not a huge fan of confrontation," Ms Wilkinson told the Washington Post.

But once she had confirmed it was in fact Ms Sanders, Ms Wilkinson said she was driven by the discomfort of her employees to ask Ms Sanders' party of eight to leave the restaurant.

Several Red Hen employees were gay and took offence to Ms Sanders' response to Mr Trump's decision to bar transgender people from the military.

And they had all watched Ms Sanders evade questions and defend Mr Trump's controversial immigration policies which had led to the separation of families trying to enter the US at the southern border.

"I said, 'I'm the owner [and] I'd like you to come out to the patio with me for a word," Ms Wilkinson recalled.

"I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

"[Then] I said, 'I'd like to ask you to leave'."

Ms Wilkinson said Ms Sanders politely agreed to leave and the meal was "on the house".

Before leaving the restaurant on Friday night, one of the servers photographed the restaurant's whiteboard.

External Link: @brennanmgilmore: ".@PressSec got kicked out of the Red Hen resturant in Lexington, Va tonight. Apparently the own didn't want to serve her and her party out of moral conviction"

Next to Ms Sanders' name, the number 86 was scrawled, beside a reminder to restock the liquors.

In the US, the slang term "86" or "to be 86ed" refers to being ejected from a restaurant or refused service.

Asked if she would do the same thing again, Ms Wilkinson said "absolutely, yes".

Earlier in the week, Mr Trump's homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant after protesters shouted, "Shame!" until she left.

AP/ABC

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