Protesters gather outside the Red Hen in Lexington

Published: Jun. 27, 2018 at 1:27 AM EDT
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A feud that has mostly lived in the digital space, came to life in the streets of Lexington Tuesday.

The sidewalks around the restaurant were lined with people. One man was charged with disorderly conduct after dumping a bucket of manure next to the restaurant.

The rest of the protest was contained, as Lexington police, Rockbridge County deputies and VSP kept a close watch.

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

The Red Hen became a center for political discourse as people waited to see if the restaurant would open its doors as scheduled.

"I hope they do open and I hope they don't do any business,” said Chris Wayne, who was holding a “Make America Great Again” flag. Wayne traveled an hour to protest the restaurant and pledge his support for President Trump’s administration.

This comes after Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen Friday night. She tweeted, letting the public know.

People with different opinions gathered outside Tuesday. Some held President Trump signs, speaking out against the restaurant's actions.

"Because I'm very upset by somebody being kicked out of a restaurant in Lexington- this is not us," said Mary Harvey-Halseth.

Others, traveled to the area hoping to eat at the restaurant and show support.

“We just wanted to get some dinner, eat at a restaurant, at a place that aligns with our values,” said Anna Hicks, who drove in from Charlottesville, hoping to get dinner at The Red Hen.

The Red Hen usually opens at 5:00 p.m., but at that time on Tuesday, only crowds lined the streets.

Co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson could not be reached for comment, but we did learn she resigned Tuesday from Main Street Lexington where she served as executive director.

As for what's next in Lexington, people are not sure. Police are prepared for any future protests, but locals say they want things to get back to normal.

"People are not being friends anymore, I'm being told. People are not talking because of this,” said Turpin. “I think it's just- people are becoming more and more divided rather than together."