OLD SAYBROOK — A Connecticut restaurant called the Red Hen received "threatening" messages from people confused with an identically named Virginia eatery that refused White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders service.
Shelley DeProto, who opened the Red Hen in Old Saybrook nearly 6-years-ago, said she received a couple of text messages Saturday morning that were critical of her restaurant. Then, when she arrived a the Main Steet eatery, she found her voicemail was filled with hurtful messages. This was based on an assumption that the Virginia and Old Saybrook restaurants are affiliated. They are not.
One person left a message asking "How’s business going? How is those Yelp review? "
"Our ratings have gone down," said DeProto. "We were at a 4.5 and then it went down to a 2. "
But, their ratings have rebounded to a 4.0 on Trip Advisor as of Monday afternoon. And Yelp notes they are monitoring and eliminating any comments related to the media reports.
"We support their right to refuse service and we support the right of people to protest," said Mary Bowler, a bartender for the Red Hen in Old Saybrook.
"It makes me sad and angry that people don’t seem to want to take the time to get their facts straight," said David Russo, who was eating lunch with his wife at another Old Saybrook restaurant.
"You people are idiots!," screamed another caller. "You have pissed off 70 percent of America. Sarah Sanders is a hero! She is a hero! You people are zeros."
Finally, the tide may be receding, though. The Red Hen in Old Saybrook is finally receiving support. And, so that prospective customers are clear, the Old Saybrook Red Hen website notes they are not affiliated with the controversial restaurant in Virginia.
"Our threshold is that you be nice," said Bowler. "That’s really it."
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, only Washington, DC, Seattle and the Virgin Islands protect people from being refused service because of their political affiliation or their ideology.
Another Red Hen in New Jersey had a similar problem.