Sanders dines at The White Rose, thrills York supporters

John Joyce

It is not every day he shows up for a shift and finds out his restaurant will be hosting a presidential candidate and his entourage. But that is exactly what happened Friday, White Rose Bar and Grill manager Alan Ching said.

Shortly before Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — fresh off of campaign stops in Gettysburg and at Millersville University — directed his motorcade to turn off Interstate 83 and stop in downtown York, Ching got the call.

"They called about an hour before they showed up and asked if we could accommodate the senator," he said."I said, 'Of course.'"

Sanders, along with a group of 15 to 20 aides, staffers and U.S. Secret Service agents, came in, sat down and had a quick meal. Patrons were caught off guard, but respectful, Ching said.

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"Of course everyone got on social media and word got out that he was here," he said. "People were coming by his table, asking for selfies."

Outside, throngs of supporters wearing Bernie 2016 T-shirts and holding campaign signs gathered for a glimpse of the candidate seeking the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

Secret Service agents politely contained the crowd to one side of the restaurant's parking lot but allowed onlookers to ready smartphones and cameras for the looming photo opportunity.

Chris Clarke, owner and operator of the nearby Sunrise Soap Co., produced a banner and high-tailed it over to the White Rose with her staff behind her.

"We were running our bubble machine, running our business, when we heard (Sanders) was here," she said.

Sunrise staff members Ariel Linebaugh, Candy Latsos and Kait Filipelli helped hold up the soap company's banner for the senator to see.

"We're out here to support Bernie," said Filipelli, who would later get a selfie with the candidate.

"He is the best for our future. I have an 11-year-old son, it is important we have a strong (candidate) who is supportive of his future," Filipelli said.

As Sanders emerged he worked his way over to the crowd of supporters and shook several hands, stopped for selfies and chatted with a few in the crowd.

Jacob Dunklebarger, 22, a Bernie supporter, was jogging through downtown when he got the text that his candidate was in town.

"I think I was a mile, maybe closer to two miles away," he said, out of breath. "I sprinted the whole way here."

Dunklebarger said he has been "feeling the Bern" since the start of this year's election cycle, and he managed to convert his mother, a lifelong Republican, along the way.

"I just talked to her about him, told her where he stands. I made her sit down and watch all the debates with me," he said.

The crowd inside the White Rose was still abuzz after Sanders' motorcade departed. Ching said Friday nights at the Rose are always busy, but the unscheduled stop by Sanders further added to the dinner rush.

"It's been great. The Secret Service was wanding everybody, but they were great. The servers were great," he said. "This is just a little extra chaos."