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Red Hen owner who ousted Sarah Sanders resigns from local business group

Sanders responds to restaurant controversy

LEXINGTON, Va. -- The co-owner of the Virginia restaurant that refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has resigned from a local business group. CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ reports that Red Hen co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson resigned Tuesday as executive director of Main Street Lexington, an organization focused on economic growth in the community. 

The group's board president, Elizabeth Outland Branner, said in a statement that Wilkinson felt she should resign considering the past weekend's events, according to news outlets.

Wilkinson told The Washington Post that she asked Sanders to leave the restaurant Friday evening at the request of gay employees who object to how Sanders defended President Donald Trump's desire to bar transgender people from the military. Sanders tweeted about the incident Saturday, saying she was told to leave because she works for Mr. Trump. 

The Red Hen has not reopened since Friday night. Protests continue, with one man being escorted away by police after throwing chicken manure. 

On Tuesday, the sidewalks around the restaurant were lined with people, WDBJ reported. 

"I can't believe this is my little town," said a local business owner, Marisa Turpin.

Chris Wayne, who held a "Make America Great Again" flag, traveled an hour to protest and pledge his support for the Trump administration.  

"I hope they do open and I hope they don't do any business," he said. 

Locals, however, seek a return to normalcy.

"People are not being friends anymore, I'm being told," said Turpin." People are not talking because of this."

"I think it's just -- people are becoming more and more divided rather than together," she said, WDBJ reported. 

Red Hen -- Lexington, Virginia
Passersby gather to take photos in front of the Red Hen Restaurant on Sat., June 23, 2018, in Lexington, Virginia. AP