Chefs Zakarian, Andrés Leaving Trump, Trump Sues


NEW YORK (Business Insider) — Within the span of two days, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filed two lawsuits against two very popular chefs.

The separate suits allege the chefs — Geoffrey Zakarian (a judge on the show “Chopped”) and José Andrés — have illegally pulled out of agreements to build restaurants in the new Trump International Hotel, which is under construction in the historic Old Post Office building in Washington, DC.

The chefs have claimed, in separate statements, that they pulled out of their respective agreements with the hotel after hearing Trump’s racially charged remarks about Mexican and Hispanic immigrants.

Andrés was slated to open a Spanish restaurant in the new hotel complex, but has said in a statement that Trump’s remarks have made it “impossible” for that to happen, according to the Daily News.

“More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status,” Andrés told The Washington Post.

The suit filed in D.C. by Trump Old Post Office, LLC, the Trump subsidiary handling the hotel project, alleges that Andrés’ company, ThinkFoodGroup, is still on the hook for the lease it signed with the upcoming hotel. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told The Washington Post that the lease was for 10 years and is worth $10 million. The suit also enumerates other unspecified damages, which could add up to a hefty sum.

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“This lawsuit is both unsurprising and without merit,” ThinkFoodGroup said in a statement to Politico. “Simply put, Mr. Trump’s comments made ThinkFoodGroup’s participation in this project impossible and constituted a breach which the landlord, Trump Old Post Office LLC, refused to remedy. And despite our attempts to negotiate an amicable resolution, we were ultimately forced to terminate the lease.”

Meanwhile, Zakarian, too, had signed on to open a restaurant — a DC outpost of his popular The National Bar and Dining Rooms — in the forthcoming hotel.

According to Grub Street, the Food Network star has forfeited the $500,000 deposit for the restaurant’s space and completely walked away from the deal. “We are a nation built from immigrants, my family included,” he said in a statement.

Trump Old Post Office, LLC has filed a suit against Zakarian for an alleged “breach of conduct” and is seeking damages to the tune of $10 million, according to the National Law Journal.

“We believe that the lawsuits are pretty straightforward,” Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, said in a statement to Business Insider. “There’s no merit to their claim of any breach of contract, and not surprisingly, they can’t even point to a single provision in the lease that was actually violated.”

Representatives for Geoffrey Zakarian did not wish to give any further statements on the matter. Business Insider reached out to Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup for comment and did not hear back.



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