The little Red Hen restaurant has turned into a giant ruckus, not just for owner Stephanie Wilkinson, but for tiny Lexington, Va., and the Christian Science Monitor takes a look at "a community (wading) through a nation's vitriol." Protesters, many of them out-of-towners proclaiming things like "The Red Hen Laid a Rotten Egg" or "Stephanie Stood Up for the Children," gathered outside the still-shuttered restaurant Saturday night, reports the News-Gazette, more than a week after Sarah Huckabee Sanders was turned away. But the fallout also flows down Main Street, with the Blue Phoenix Cafe and Market taking a Yelp-and-social media beatdown after owner Amenie Hopkins voiced support for Wilkinson. Bad reviews, she says, started pouring in "literally two minutes later."
The mostly blue town of Lexington is split, its divide with mostly conservative surrounding Rockbridge County deepened. Many business owners are taking pains to distance themselves from the Red Hen and make clear anyone is welcome. One says that Wilkinson is "just a wonderful person who’s helped this town so much," but says so anonymously because of fear of blowback. "When they say 'boycott Lexington businesses,' they’re not realizing who they’re hurting," says another. Wilkinson "has the right to refuse anybody … but to kind of think of it in the long term ... how it might affect the rest of us." Hopkins is happy to take the heat. "If you don’t stand up to persecution, if you don’t stand next to your neighbor when they are being persecuted, you end up losing more than just business. You end up losing a part of yourself. And that's irretrievable." Click for the full piece. (Read more Red Hen restaurant stories.)