Red Hen Reopens With Quiet Protestors, Supporters Outside

Kit Huffman

Thursday, July 5 - The Red Hen continues to take a lot of heat − but the temperature may have been turned down slightly.

A small knot of people, more media reps than citizens, and more citizens than customers, blocked the sidewalk in front of the beleaguered restaurant this evening.

Shouts and chants were absent, though signs were present, many making a second (or perhaps third) appearance.

The Red Hen had announced they’d reopen tonight after a summer break.  Would-be diners and supporters were turned away, told the restaurant was fully booked with a private party.

But the supporters, including a couple en route to Vermont and a local threesome who consider the Red Hen “our local restaurant,” were satisfied, even without a meal.  They’d been able to walk through the swinging wooden doors into the side garden and express their support for the restaurant and staff.

Others, of the opposite persuasion, stood squarely in front of the main door, which around 5 p.m. was “blocked” with colorful flower planters, placed there by staff with a certain ceremony − like waiters entering a crowded dining room with a special entrée.

Butch Barley from Concord stood beneath the Red Hen sign with a king-size tub of Kentucky Fried Chicken dangling from his neck, stuffed with three plucked rubber chickens.  “The Future of the Red Hen,” said his sign.

Noting that his town is “5 miles this side of Appomattox − you’ve heard about that, haven’t you?” − he said he’d returned to the Red Hen for a second time, to defend the code of chivalry.  “It’s the unfair treatment of a lady,” he said in a soft voice.

Asked how he would treat the female owner of the Red Hen, he said he probably wouldn’t talk to her.

The group Patriot Picket had also returned, as they’d promised, with a “core group of three from Maryland and some local recruits,” said Paul Brockman, whose card identified him as a group captain.

A soft-spoken man from Lynchburg said he’d come to Lexington to “inquire” about the Red Hen and, after checking in at the police department, made his way to the corner of Washington and Randolph.  There, he was given a sign by Patriot Picket that read “We Shall Overcome − Democrats.”  “I took the sign, I was OK with it,” he said.

He decried the “inappropriate treatment of Sarah Huckabee Sanders” by the Red Hen owner.

TV media flocking to the site included TV channels 7, 10, 13 and Fox.  A woman was there from Ruptly video news agency based in Berlin, Germany.  She’d made the trip from her work base in Washington.

Don Mandelkorn and his wife Margaret Davis, the passers-through from Vermont, said they stopped in Lexington to show support of the Red Hen.

“I think the owner was very brave,” said the pony-tailed Mandelkorn, facing the cameras.  “We expressed our support to the staff here.”

Arlene White of Lexington and her husband, Tim, likewise thought they’d stroll into the restaurant for a meal.  Coming out a minute or two later, she told the media, “Protests don’t bother me.  It’s my neighborhood restaurant.  We’ll come back another time with reservations.”

A local woman who requested anonymity said she’d also gone in to show support.  “I’m tired of this,” she said.  “They (anti-Red Hennites) need to go home.  They don’t live here. They need to go away.”

White, elegant in her black-and-white top, faced off with a Patriot Picket member, who, however, remained mild.

“We don’t want this restaurant to go out of business,” he insisted.  “We want them to offer good meals and good service.  My wish is for them to be tolerant.”






The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Latest articles

Please Login for Premium Content