A New England business was on the receiving end of mean-spirited blowback for a decision made hundreds of miles away, which it had absolutely nothing to do with.
The negative comments sent from around the country to the Red Hen Baking Co. of Middlesex, Vermont appeared to arrive because the bakery has a name similar to the eatery at the center of a recent dustup with the White House.
“We’re having a crisis here,” said Randy George of the Red Hen Baking Co., describing the negative ways he sees Americans sometimes treating one another.
George, who said he’s not the kind of person who gives up hope in humanity, has needed optimism over the past few days after the bakery was blasted by furious Facebook comments, emails, and more.
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“Stick to your job and keep your personal imbecilic opinions to yourself,” one person fired off.
Another picked up the phone, and left a message saying, “I think what you people did was despicable, and the lowest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
They were misdirected messages meant for a Virginia restaurant with a similar name.
The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia booted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last weekend, apparently because the owner disagreed with President Donald Trump’s stance on transgender military service members.
The unrelated Vermont Red Hen Baking Co. blames the accidental blowback in part on Mr. Trump’s distinctive Twitter style.
George suggested the president’s tone on Twitter could send a message to some that online snark and sharp, even mean jabs are somehow OK.
“We need to really be careful about how we use social media and remember that there are human beings on the other end of this computer screen,” Randy George said.
The business owner said he has actually been able to find a silver lining in this name mix-up.
After word got out about the hate mail, George said he’s gotten much more positive support from his loyal customers than the volume of scorn he received from total strangers.
“I hope that that’s cleared up and doesn’t continue to happen,” Red Hen Baking Co. customer Kathryn Wrigley said.
“They’re terrific people,” another customer, Rob White, said of the leadership at the busy Middlesex bakery. “They have great employees.”
“They have really ethical business practices, too,” added Red Hen Baking Co. regular Erin Hurley. “So I respect them for all they give back to our community.”
The bakery’s just glad the dust is settling, and Randy George said he’s been thinking about what he’d do if a member of the Trump administration came in to his Red Hen.
“They could get lunch,” George said, noting that the president’s staff would surely also get an earful from him: a heaping side dish of policy disagreements—but served with civility.