President Trump harshly addressed the Red Hen restaurant that kicked out White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders for working under him. Veuer’s Natasha Abellard has the story. Buzz60
President Donald Trump on Monday attacked the Red Hen, the restaurant that booted White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Twitter.
Do his claims have merit?
The small restaurant in rural Lexington, Virginia, which bills itself as a “farm to table fine dining” establishment that focuses on Shenandoah Valley-inspired cuisine, has a mixed inspection record from the Virginia Department of Health.
Trump criticized the restaurant’s “filthy” canopies, doors, windows and paint job, even as he praised Sanders. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside,” he tweeted Monday.
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. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
Virginia restaurant inspections didn’t find any of evidence of such filth when they checked the Red Hen’s kitchen and storage areas in February 2018 and November 2015. The inspections resulted in zero violations.
However, the Red Hen was hit with two violations in an April 2014 inspection. One cited raw beef stored above cooked ready-to-eat food and thawing meats stored above cookie bars. The other violation cited ready-to-eat container of grits stored in a refrigeration unit without being properly dated.
Both violations were deemed “critical” under the Department of Health’s inspection regulations before a 2016 update.
They would be deemed “priority” violations now under the new system, because they could be a direct cause of illness for the restaurant’s patrons, said Julie Henderson, Director of Food and General Environmental Services for the state Department of Health.
A January 2017 inspection found a “priority” violation for having pickles or jams in a sealed container that was not from an approved food processing plant. The restaurant said the jars were for decorator use only and promised to take them home.
Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson did not respond to messages on Monday. However, restaurant operators nationwide historically have questioned the validity of some violations cited by their local inspectors.
Florida’s online licensing portal cautions that inspection reports represent a “snapshot” of conditions at the time of the inspection, and says they “may not be representative of the overall, long-term conditions at the establishment.”
At an April 2018 snapshot in time, restaurant inspectors in Florida found 13 violations at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club and restaurant in Palm Beach, the Miami Herald reported.
Checking the restaurant shortly before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, the inspection found three “high priority” violations that could breed illness-causing bacteria. They included failure to conduct proper parasite destruction in fish slated to be served raw or undercooked, the Herald reported.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc