President Donald Trump on Monday attacked a rural Virginia restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary over the weekend by criticizing its supposed lack of cleanliness.
“The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
But perhaps those in glass restaurants shouldn’t throw stones. Compared to the Red Hen, some of Trump’s own restaurants seem like the bathroom of a dive bar the morning after a live show.
The Lexington, Virginia restaurant, which caused a Trumpworld uproar when it refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday, passed its most recent health inspection with flying colors. State authorities found no violations when they visited the restaurant in February and gave the Red Hen their best possible health-risk rating.
By contrast, the conditions of restaurants at Trump’s hotels and resorts have ranged from moderately unsanitary to outright revolting.
In April, Washington, D.C. inspectors visited the Trump International Hotel and found 10 health-code violations, including raw meat stored above ready-to-eat foods and containers of flour stored next to a hand sink that lacked a splash guard. Inspectors also found that the hotel was operating a number of on-site kitchens without city permits to do so.
The hotel was given a “moderate risk” rating based on that visit.
Inspectors conducted a follow-up visit in May and found that the Trump hotel had failed to comply with instructions to correct some of those violations, including the permitting issue. It maintained the “moderate risk” category.
BLT Prime, the steakhouse at Trump’s D.C. hotel, had many of the same issues. It was also given a “moderate risk” rating in April, when inspectors recorded the same raw-meat storage issues as the hotel and a lack of signage in the kitchen instructing employees to wash their hands.
Even as inspectors were present, employees showed some fairly unsanitary handling of cookware. “An employee dropped an empty pan on the floor and then put it inside a refrigerator,” inspectors noted. “The pan was removed for cleaning upon request.”
When inspectors followed up with BLT Prime in May, they noted that the restaurant was storing raw steaks above vegetables, in violation of the D.C. health code. The violation was corrected on-site.
And yet, Trump’s D.C. hotel actually compares favorably to others in the president’s portfolio with respect to health-code troubles. The president’s Mar-a-Lago resort has been faulted with 51 health-code violations since 2013. Health inspectors have also found an additional 30 at Mar-a-Lago’s beach club.
Trump’s Doral golf club outside Miami has fared even worse: In its main kitchen, banquet hall, café, patio grill, and bungalows, inspectors have found 524 health-code violations since 2013, including a number that resulted in fines. Among inspectors’ findings were multiple spottings of live and dead cockroaches (they noted 20-25 live ones visibly present in the main kitchen during one 2015 visit), “slimy/mold-like build-up” in coolers and freezers, and holes in kitchen walls.
During that same time, Virginia health authorities have found just three violations at the Red Hen. Last year, they observed a number of jars containing pickles and jams that had not come from an approved food processor. The restaurant said they were simply decorative, but agreed to remove them. In 2014, inspectors noted that its grits were not properly dated, and that raw beef was being stored above ready-to-eat food. A follow-up visit showed that those violations had been corrected.