This post has been updated.
Donald Trump made good on threats to sue celebrity chef José Andrés, after the Washington-based toque backed out of a deal to open the flagship restaurant in Trump’s D.C. luxury hotel, slapping him with a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit.
Earlier this month, Andrés scrapped plans to open an eatery next year in Trump’s $200 million redevelopment of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion after the hotelier/GOP candidate made controversial comments about illegal Mexican immigrants. At the time, Trump’s son, Eric Trump, suggested that the chef could expect to hear from their lawyers.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in D.C. federal district court, against Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup and an affiliate company, Topo Atrio LLC., Trump said Andrés broke his lease, and that the chef owes $10 million in damages that includes lost rent and the cost of finding a new tenant.
When he nixed the deal, Andrés cited both business and professional reasons: he said many of his own workers and patrons were Hispanic. “And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status,” he said at the time.
In the lawsuit, Trump’s lawyers say that statement shouldn’t have come as a surprise. “Mr. Andrés’ offense is 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 lawsuit states.
In a statement about the lawsuit issued this weekend, ThinkFoodGroup argued that Trump’s comments were a “breach” of their agreement.
“This lawsuit is both unsurprising and without merit,” the statement reads. “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.”
“We had every intention of running a successful business that celebrates and welcomes people and cultures from around the world,” the statement continues. “The landlord allowed Mr. Trump to saddle us with the burden of his inflammatory statements, such that operating a high-end Spanish restaurant is no longer viable for us at this location.”