WNPR

Old Saybrook Restaurant Deals With Undue 'Red Hen' Backlash

Jun 25, 2018

A Connecticut restaurant is dealing with the backlash surrounding the White House press secretary being asked to leave a Virginia establishment on Friday. The owner of an Old Saybrook restaurant wants you to know that her Red Hen restaurant is not the Red Hen located in Lexington, Virginia.

Shelley Deproto decided to change the content of her outgoing voicemail message over something that happened 525 miles away.

“Thank you for calling Red Hen restaurant in Old Saybrook, Connecticut,” the voice on the message said. “We are not affiliated with any other Red Hen restaurant.”

Since Sarah Sanders was kicked out of the Virginia Red Hen last Friday, Deproto, who owns the Red Hen in Old Saybrook, has fielded some calls with angry people on the other end.

“Some people have actually apologized and said 'Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I got the wrong number.' And they hang up,” Deproto said. “Some people just do not hear you. No matter how many times you say it, they just keep ranting.”

The staff at the Virginia Red Hen didn’t want to serve Sanders because they said she defends the policies of the Trump administration on a daily basis. So after the owner of the restaurant was called in, she sought the opinion of the staff. And then, she asked Sanders and her party to leave.

That’s not something Deproto said she would’ve done if confronted with the same situation.

“We’re here to pour good wine, make great drinks, and make people feel comfortable,” Deproto said. “That is what we do. Politics have no place here.”

Deproto, upset over what she calls a “sad coincidence,” said that she’s being flooded with negative reviews and that’s making Red Hen’s online rating go down.

“It’s having a negative—a very negative effect and we’re hoping that that won’t be a lasting effect,” Deproto said. “But, it’s definitely a cause for concern for us because this is our livelihood.”

Deproto said she’ll take it day-by-day and won’t be doing anything radical like changing the name of her restaurant.