This weekend, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of the Red Hen restaurant over the proprietor’s disgust with the administration’s policies. Sanders tweeted her displeasure at the upscale farm-to-table establishment, and this morning, President Trump followed suit:
There is a problem of political hypocrisy here, of course — if the Trump administration supports the right of bakers to withhold service from gay and lesbian weddings because they are disgusted at the thought of gay people getting married, it should also support the right of restaurant owners to deny their delightful creations to people who work for an authoritarian racist presidency.
But the larger issue here concerns restaurant economics. If you’re a national politician, net positives matter a lot. It’s hard to win national office if large numbers of people loathe you. The restaurant business is quite different. You don’t need to win plurality national support to profitably operate a small entity in Lexington, Virginia. You only need an extremely tiny percentage of the public to support you. Whether the remainder of the public is indifferent or hostile to the prospect of ordering a $25 Shenandoah Lamb Co. braised leg of lamb with harissa-spiced Wades Mill Polenta and a side of Fennel & Dill Salad matters not at all.
The name of the game in the restaurant business is getting on the map. If Trump’s social media abuse was wildly successful, and it created 100 new Red Hen haters for every one new Red Hen fan, it would still be a big win for the Red Hen, which at this point probably now has a waiting list for reservations longer than Trump’s term in office.