Last weekend, Diane Smith woke up to a flurry of crude messages directed at her Collingwood, Ont., restaurant’s Facebook page.
The comments ranged from attacks on the Olde Red Hen’s customer service, to bold statements about its lack of “patriotism.”
Smith, co-owner of the restaurant, was confused until suddenly it clicked.
“I started googling everybody on Facebook and they were all from the states,” said Smith.
Sure enough, the insulting messages were from supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump who had mistaken the Olde Red Hen for a restaurant in Virginia named The Red Hen.
That restaurant had recently denied service to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to protest against the Trump administration’s controversial policy of separating Central American migrants from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Smith took to Facebook and made a post asking locals to defend the OIde Red Hen.
“I have responded to them all individually advising they have the wrong restaurant,” the post read. “Please join us and reveiw (sic) us on our real 5 star merit.”
Local diners come to The Olde Red Hen’s defence
Smith says she was upset in the beginning; but she’s come to realize it’s “more of a political thing.”
One person wrote on Facebook, “Intolerance is a sad thing. The only thing worse than than the intolerance at this restaurant is the service and the food.”
On the same platform, another commenter wrote, “Terrible Hospitality and poor taste! Atmosphere devoid of love, compassion and patriotism!”
However, as negative comments started rolling in—positive ones surfaced, as well.
Heather Macdonald, a Collingwood native, wrote, “I have enjoyed many meals at the Olde Red Hen in Collingwood! I am so sorry people are confused with geography, and so saddened by all the negative comments.”
Many Americans came to the comment section too and wrote apologies on behalf of those who wrote negative comments.
Michael Schmidt from Ohio wrote, “my apologies that a few of my fellow Americans have little comprehension that Collingwood Ontario Canada and the State of Virginia in the USA are two entirely different geographical locations approximately 650 miles of separation in distance.”
Smith is reaching out to Facebook and Tripadvisor to figure out her options.
She says she’s been told it’s very difficult to deal with these kinds of situations. However, Smith says she not too worried about it considering The Olde Red Hen is advertised mostly through word of mouth.
Multiple ‘Red Hen’ restaurants get flak
The Olde Red Hen isn’t the only restaurant facing angry comments from Trump supporters.
Since Trump posted a tweet in which he called the The Red Hen in Virginia “filthy” and “dirty,” commenters have attacked unaffiliated establishments with similar names in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The Red Hen in D.C., tweeted first thing Monday saying, “Good morning! @PressSec went to the unaffiliated @RedHenLex last night, not to our DC-based restaurant.”
The owner of The Red Hen in Virginia, where Sanders was asked to leave, told The Washington Post, “”I would have done the same thing again. We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.”