Not so “filthy” after all.
Despite President Donald Trump’s dubious claim that a restaurant’s exterior appearance will unfailingly mirror its interior cleanliness, the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia that gave White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders the boot over the weekend actually has a glowing health record, according to county health department documents.
Red Hen’s last violation was found during an April 2014 inspection — raw meat was stored above cookie jars and the expiration date on some grits stored in the refrigerator was improperly labeled — and both errors were corrected at the time of the county officials’ visit.
Red Hen’s last inspection was completed on Feb. 6, 2018, when it received a clean bill of health with no violations or required follow up visits. The Rockbridge County official who conducted the inspection even noted the staff’s “clean uniforms/aprons,” the proper restraint of the cook’s hair and an “excellent job on code-dating.”
Before February, Red Hen was inspected on Jan. 24 2017 and it received similarly high marks: “Good food and unit temperatures;” “Clean aprons; “Employees properly washing hands during evaluation;” “Hand sink fully stocked with soap/paper towels, hot and cold running water.”
The one transgression involved the use of canning jars as decoration. Any hermetically sealed container in use at a restaurant has to be obtained from an approved food processing plant, according to the county official.
“Operator stated that jars were for decorative use only. Operator will take jars home,” the report stated.
While much larger than the Red Hen, by contrast, the kitchen of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was hit with 13 health violations in April 2017 and was slapped with 15 violations in the club’s two kitchens in a follow up visit in November 2017.
Sanders tweeted about her dismissal from Red Hen on Saturday morning, suggesting she was asked to leave the restaurant because she worked for the Trump administration.
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
Red Hen’s co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post on Saturday that she asked Sanders to leave the restaurant after her chef and other staff members expressed discomfort in serving her.
“This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals,” she told the Post.
On Monday morning, Trump decided to weigh in on the debacle and the “filthy” rural eatery.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
It is unclear whether Trump has ever actually been to the restaurant.