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First, Donald Trump‘s D.C. hotel sued José Andrés‘ ThinkFoodGroup for $10 million. Now, the luxury hotel coming to the Old Post Office is after fellow restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian for another $10 million. Both celebrity chefs backed out of contracts to open restaurants in the hotel following disparaging remarks that Trump made about immigrants.
In a statement to the Post, Zakarian said Trump’s statements did not in any way align with his “personal core values,” and therefore he would be “unable to move forward” with his restaurant, the National. “Zakarian Hospitality employs many immigrants from nations all over the world, and I look forward to continuing this business culture in my future restaurants. We are a nation built from immigrants, my family included,” Zakaraian said, echoing the sentiments of Andrés in a similar statement.
The breach-of-contract lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Monday and first reported by the National Law Journal, uses much of the same language and arguments as the lawsuit against Andrés. The complaint calls Zakarian’s offense “curious in light of the fact that Mr. Trump’s publicly shared views on immigration have remained consistent for many years, and Mr. Trump’s willingness to frankly share his opinions is widely known.”
The complaint says Zakarian’s group sent a letter to terminate its lease on July 17 that alleged Trump’s remarks “materially interfered with Mr. Zakarian’s ability to perform” and violated the “covenants of quiet enjoyment and good faith and fair dealing.” But according to the lawsuit, there is no provision in the lease that allows the tenant the right to terminate the contract based on personal offense.
The suit says it is “not an option” for the landlord to let the property sit vacant. Instead, the landlord “must promptly move forward with plans to find a new first-class restaurant.” The Trump hotel is seeking “in excess of $10 million” for lost rent and other damages.
Y&H has contacted Zakarian’s team for comment and will update this story when we hear back.
Photo by Aaron Wiener