Mistaken identity leads to brouhaha over Middlesex bakery

MIDDLESEX, Vt. (WCAX) A case of mistaken identity has a central Vermont bakery fielding hate mail from around the country. It began with two words -- Red and Hen.

For the past three days, Red Hen Bakery co-owner Randy George has come in to find angry phone messages.

"You guys should be ashamed of yourselves," said one caller.

"You disgrace the whole state with what you did. Goodbye. I'll never come there again and I'll never eat there again, and I'm going to tell everyone I see never to eat there. Goodbye," said another.

Not to mention similar messages on Facebook and their website.

"How dare you. Whenever in the is country does someone get put out of a food establishment for his or her opinion. This is not the USSR."

"Good luck with your one-star restaurant lol"

"I will never set foot in one of your businesses again. An American bakery my ass"

Harsh comments directed at him for something he didn't do. "They got the wrong Red Hen," George said.

Here's how the mix-up happened. Friday night, the owners of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave because of her role in defending President Trump's policies. After Sanders and the President weighed in online, so did their supporters.

And some of them searched online and found the Red Hen Bakery. It's not affiliated at all with the Virginia establishment, and George says everyone is welcome at the Middlesex bakery. "Political beliefs, religious beliefs, citizenship -- anything that doesn't have to do with coming in here and enjoying the food that we have is not a qualification for being thrown out," he said.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: So if Sarah Huckabee Sanders walked in here tomorrow and wanted to buy a sandwich, you would serve her?
Randy George: Absolutely, yeah.

The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington Virginia is about 700 miles away from the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, but that didn't stop the Vermont store's customers from talking about it.

"First thing I saw was Red Hen and I said, 'Oh, that's right in my neighborhood,' but it wasn't. I went online and looked it up," said Ethan Atkin of Montpelier. But Atkin points out that businesses should be careful. "It's a slippery slope."

George says instead of showing customers the door, he wants to encourage respectful discussion. "Be welcoming of different viewpoints. And I say that to both some of the people who have contacted us, and the Red Hen in Virginia," he said.

Asked if the President would also be served, George says he would, but he should be prepared to talk politics as well.