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José Andrés Caught Up in the Donald Trump Maelstrom


DaveO
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Knowingly or not, anyone can get caught up in politics, activism etc.   Jose Andres' planned restaurant in the planned Trump hotel in DC is now a target for protests against Trump's recent statements.

Here is one article on the topic and includes a tweet by Andres

I bet this story isn't going away for a while.

I think The Donald needs Jose more than vice versa. There is no upside for Andres at this point.

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Ok, so I am a family law attorney, this is snot my area of law.... but since there is a lot of time until the hotel opens, could Trump really sue over breach of contract, and get a huge payout?  Don't they have to mitigate losses, and if they get another restaurant to go in, which I am sure they will, wouldn't the damages be minimal?  Could they really enforce a non-compete over all of DC?  Don't those sorts of things have to be pretty narrowly tailored?  Would love to hear what someone who does this type of law thought.  I am sure Andrew consulted with his attorneys before doing this so they must not be too scared.

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You might want to check that link, Tujague.   :)  

Oh, good grief. Then again, Trump could use a few fiery sermons on being a good neighbor.

It's interesting that in this case, it's Trump Jr. who is making the threats, not the Donald himself. Maybe someone is telling him that he needs to get his minions to do the crazy talk. I suspect Andres would have taken this step sooner, but he's a savvy enough businessman to get his legal ducks in a row first, knowing what Trump would surely throw at him. I wonder if Geoffrey Zakarian will also pull out now, too.

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To José Andres, for doing the right thing.

Did Andrés act on moral conscience, political maneuvering, business acumen, or all of the above? Do you honestly think he would have backed out of this deal if he wasn't feeling the heat and the pressure from social media? I'm asking the question, but I'm not answering it, purposefully, because I don't know the answer. Sometimes it takes a little while for things to sink in, and I understand that.

Has your opinion of Donald Trump changed in the past month? Mine certainly hasn't. See these comments?

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best," he said during the announcement. "They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

He made them on June 16th, three weeks ago.

There is no upside for Andres at this point.

Bingo.

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The illegal immigrants that sneak across our border, regardless of reason, aren't the best or brightest of their country. Is that more palatable? I'm no fan of Trump but he's running for president as a Republican, and it's necessary to go way right in the primaries. And he seems to believe that no publicity is bad. So his statement was probably intentionally provocative.

Telling Jose how to run his business because one doesn't think Donald is toeing the pc line is saying the end justifies the means. It's okay to sacrifice an innocent bystander to accomplish one's goal. There's no upside for Jose because he's just a pawn being sacrificed.

Let's be clear, when Jose signed the lease, he didn't know shit would hit the fan. Now that he's pressured to break the lease, he's liable for damages. I've never seen a lease that says the tenant can breach because the landlord's running his mouth. Maybe now there will be a new provision known as the Trump clause in leases.

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Telling Jose how to run his business because one doesn't think Donald is toeing the pc line is saying the end justifies the means. It's okay to sacrifice an innocent bystander to accomplish one's goal. There's no upside for Jose because he's just a pawn being sacrificed.

So Andres has no agency in this decision?  He's just a "pawn being sacrificed?" By whom?

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Wow. To the first sentence of Ericandblueboy, actually several studies have shown that immigrants are usually among the most entrepreneurial and risk taking citizens in their country. It takes initiative, guts, and a daring spirit to leave your family, friends, and culture to strike out to the unknown.

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Did Andrés act on moral conscience, political maneuvering, business acumen, or all of the above? Do you honestly think he would have backed out of this deal if he wasn't feeling the heat and the pressure from social media? I'm asking the question, but I'm not answering it, purposefully, because I don't know the answer. Sometimes it takes a little while for things to sink in, and I understand that.

I don't know the answer either, and I think it's okay if there is no single reason. Andres did have some time on his hands here to make his decision, and I imagine he hoped against hope that Trump might relent to some degree. And while his enterprise is not a small business per se, neither is it anywhere near the size of NBC or Macy's. His decisions have more direct effects on local actors to whom he has a different relationship and responsibility than a larger corporation, which makes it an even more difficult choice. Andres does have a personal profile relative to immigration, so I do in fact think that it wasn't just social media pressure that prompted his choice; he's long demonstrated that he does have a social conscience.

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Wow. To the first sentence of Ericandblueboy, actually several studies have shown that immigrants are usually among the most entrepreneurial and risk taking citizens in their country. It takes initiative, guts, and a daring spirit to leave your family, friends, and culture to strike out to the unknown.

Is that study of legal or illegal immigrants? This morning I was watching Trump saying that Mexico forces its rapists, drug dealers, killers to America. I haven't the slightest idea if that's true.

ETA:  as best as I can tell, the study doesn't distinguish btwn legal or illegal immigrants.  I'm not entirely certain that illegal immigrants can start  a business, file tax returns, etc. without getting busted.  So logically, the study is mostly immigrants with legal status - which has nothing to do with what I stated (and I apparently misunderstood Trump, he was literally saying Mexico forces its unwanted to America, which does seem ludicrous).

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Is that study of legal or illegal immigrants? This morning I was watching Trump saying that Mexico forces its rapists, drug dealers, killers to America. I haven't the slightest idea if that's true.

I would say that given Mexico's inability to stem the drug wars and even protect tourists in tourist areas, that the idea that they are able to deliberately funnel anyone to America is comical at best.

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Is that study of legal or illegal immigrants? This morning I was watching Trump saying that Mexico forces its rapists, drug dealers, killers to America. I haven't the slightest idea if that's true.

ETA:  as best as I can tell, the study doesn't distinguish btwn legal or illegal immigrants.  I'm not entirely certain that illegal immigrants can start  a business, file tax returns, etc. without getting busted.  So logically, the study is mostly immigrants with legal status - which has nothing to do with what I stated (and I apparently misunderstood Trump, he was literally saying Mexico forces its unwanted to America, which does seem ludicrous).

The studies don't usually disaggregate, although through my work I have done a lot with immigrants from Latin America (both here and in their countries of origin) and our surveys/focus groups support the entrepreneurship thesis.  I am not at my work computer, but here is one article that may be of interest:

"On The Rise: Immigrant Entrepreneurs" by Jose Paglieri on money.cnn.com

and

"Undocumented Entrepreneurs: No Social Security Number, Owning A Business" by Duarte Geraldino on america.aljazeera.com

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Ok, so I am a family law attorney, this is snot my area of law.... but since there is a lot of time until the hotel opens, could Trump really sue over breach of contract, and get a huge payout?  Don't they have to mitigate losses, and if they get another restaurant to go in, which I am sure they will, wouldn't the damages be minimal?  Could they really enforce a non-compete over all of DC?  Don't those sorts of things have to be pretty narrowly tailored?  Would love to hear what someone who does this type of law thought.  I am sure Andrew consulted with his attorneys before doing this so they must not be too scared.

I suspect that this is exactly what Andres was doing - getting his legal and financial ducks in a row to make sure they knew what the fallout might be, how they would mitigate it, and then act in the way he and his partners intended.

I would imagine that these 'restaurant groups' that are the holding companies of many, many restaurants are probably set up in a way to segregate all of the restaurants from each other so as to manage problems or other contagion from the other owned businesses/properties.

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YES.  A wee bit of controversy!!!!   :D

If I were on the legal/real estate side of tenants, I'd have entirely new clauses drawn up, (if they aren't sufficiently covered now).  The following concept would of course have to be narrowed down.

But the base idea is I need to protect the tenant against a big mouthed, property ruining landlord, for whatever reason whatsoever.  Especially if they are trying to be an attention grabbing B to C grade celebrity.

Seriously.  If I were a tenant in a Trump building, I'd start looking for alternatives RIGHT NOW.   I might not, or might not be able to relocate right now, but I'd start planning for it.  Its one thing for any landlord to have private perspectives on everything under the sun.  So long as they are private.  No landlords have the ability to get publicity as Trump.  In my mind he just potentially devalued the attractiveness of every space in every building everywhere.    If I had a series of stores in NYC with one in a Trump building and others elsewhere, I'd start tracking sales dated from the time Trump made his first statement about immigrants.

If sales dipped in the Trump building and not elsewhere, or more tellingly increased at stores near to the Trump building and dipped in the Trump building....well that is telling.

The guy's big mouth might just cost the business a lot of money.

On the personal side I find his statements appalling.  Grotesque, loud, media grabbing, and above all deeply offensive.  On a business side, he just opened up a can of worms.

His actions are worse than normal.  He doubled down on his statements.  I'd stay clear.

Just some perspective:

From this thread elsewhere on this board, referencing the worst pro sports owners in the US    I copied this thought:

Think about Jack Kent Cooke, Ted Leonsis, and the Lerner family and how much they're loved by Washingtonians. Hell, even Abe Pollin, despite being a terribly unsuccessful owner, was at least loved and respected (let's not forget he's largely responsible for Verizon Center). Sports-team owners have three functions:

I'm old.  I know there were some "nasty" perspectives on Jack Kent Cooke.  But!!!!   His teams won, he was a character, who additionally got a lot of good press.  The negatives never got big, loud, well known.

I have no historical or business perspective with regard to Ted Leonsis.  Personally I think he is a terrific/ city/regionally aware and favorable individual.

Going back over a 30 or 40 year period there has been significant business controversy connected with Ted Lerner;  right or wrong.  Its been out there in various worlds. It was not loud and aggressively broadcast.  Today the Lerner's have a probable positive image and whatever occurred in the past is too minimal or disconnected or simply forgotten or irrelevant to damage that image.

Abe Pollin, as an owner was around for a loooooong time.   His teams did poorly, but he was not overtly offensive, and I happen to know he was significantly and extremely privately philanthropic.  He didn't push the philanthropic efforts out into the public to enhance or enrich his image.

Trump is totally different.  He is purposefully loud and out there.  Now he is purposefully insulting.  I'd get my butt away from him.   That is my $0.02   ;)

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Jeez.   If I'm a tenant this is the landlord I'd steer clear of.  He created a mess.  He is the one that spoke up.    In some way the space is devalued.  Now.

If this entire thing blows over in a week or a month or a year that could change.  If it leaves a lasting memory, some customers are not coming to this space and not for a long time.

I don't recall exactly when the Old Post Office built out retail, had restaurants and shops, but i assume some time in the 90's or late 90's; maybe someone can pin the date.  I recall Michael Jordan had a restaurant on site, there was a food court, various stores, other restaurants.

It didn't work.  One thing about it.  Its probably on the wrong side of Pennsylvania Avenue.   There are 10's of thousands of workers and visitors on the North Side.  Far fewer on the Old Post Office Site.  Pa Avenue is a very large street to cross.  There are always obstacles to retail.  The width of PA Avenue had to be one of them.   Why all that retail in the Old Post Office didn't work....I can't be sure...but just being on the "wrong side of the street" could impact the site.  So there is some level of risk.

Now Trump and his people are taking this very tough tough aggressive stance with tenants who intend to back out because he created the issues.

This "maelstrom" is so unprecedented in my experience.  Being a landlord and trying to attract tenants while making outlandish political comments that many find offensive.  Unprecedented.   Loudly threatening, publicly threatening,  and being a "tough guy" with the tenants that signed leases is very unprecedented.

Man, who needs the aggravation.  I'd stay clear.

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And the next phase...protestors want the Trump name removed from the building. From WaPo:

"Protesters and city officials gathered Thursday across the street from the future Trump International Hotel in Washington, calling on federal officials to remove Trump's name from the building.

"We understand that there are legal formalities," said D.C. shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D), who wrote a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell calling for the removal of the name, which appears in large capital letters on the building. "But they have the legal ability to change what's displayed on federal land."

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Jeez.   If I'm a tenant this is the landlord I'd steer clear of.  He created a mess.  He is the one that spoke up.    In some way the space is devalued.  Now.

If this entire thing blows over in a week or a month or a year that could change.  If it leaves a lasting memory, some customers are not coming to this space and not for a long time.

I don't recall exactly when the Old Post Office built out retail, had restaurants and shops, but i assume some time in the 90's or late 90's; maybe someone can pin the date.  I recall Michael Jordan had a restaurant on site, there was a food court, various stores, other restaurants.

It didn't work.  One thing about it.  Its probably on the wrong side of Pennsylvania Avenue.   There are 10's of thousands of workers and visitors on the North Side.  Far fewer on the Old Post Office Site.  Pa Avenue is a very large street to cross.  There are always obstacles to retail.  The width of PA Avenue had to be one of them.   Why all that retail in the Old Post Office didn't work....I can't be sure...but just being on the "wrong side of the street" could impact the site.  So there is some level of risk.

Now Trump and his people are taking this very tough tough aggressive stance with tenants who intend to back out because he created the issues.

This "maelstrom" is so unprecedented in my experience.  Being a landlord and trying to attract tenants while making outlandish political comments that many find offensive.  Unprecedented.   Loudly threatening, publicly threatening,  and being a "tough guy" with the tenants that signed leases is very unprecedented.

Man, who needs the aggravation.  I'd stay clear.

Not sure when the retail started, but it was definitely there when I came to DC in the mid 90s.  Several points:  That food court actually did quite well, esp. during the spring, it was a very popular school trip lunch spot, hundreds of teenagers by the bus load.  Also, several of the stalls were ethnic and worked by...immigrants (Sushi, Middle Eastern which had an amazing potato dish, the Indian place, to name a couple).  And finally, the Michael Jordan restaurant was at the Ronald Reagan Building.    

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Not sure when the retail started, but it was definitely there when I came to DC in the mid 90s.  Several points:  That food court actually did quite well, esp. during the spring, it was a very popular school trip lunch spot, hundreds of teenagers by the bus load.  Also, several of the stalls were ethnic and worked by...immigrants (Sushi, Middle Eastern which had an amazing potato dish, the Indian place, to name a couple).  And finally, the Michael Jordan restaurant was at the Ronald Reagan Building.       

Thanks, Tweaked.  I don't recall when the food court opened and when some of the restaurants opened, plus I messed up the Michael Jordan restaurant location.  I tend to recall overall business at the food court diminishing over time.  Can't put my finger on it and the dates.

From a lunch perspective and a dinner after work perspective, let alone coordinating with corporate clients, and arranging dinners, etc.....its easier to arrange meals closer to one's offices.  Much easier.  The volume of government offices on the South Side of PA Avenue over there are immense, with many employees.   But there is more daily food money, easier to access and to spend on the North Side.   I'm saying all that from the retail real estate perspective.  Great places and opportunities will attract people;  but a very wide Boulevard could well be a deterrent for a lot of folks.  Just sayin'.....  ;)

Now if I was one of those two operators, I'd claim and argue and fight that Trump created this "mess" and exacerbated it just to take and keep my deposit.  Its so unprecedented.

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Thanks, Tweaked.  I don't recall when the food court opened and when some of the restaurants opened, 

They started that stuff in the 80s, possibly the late 80s.  I recall going there when the stands and stores had started being built and opening. Based on specific times I know I went there, it had to have been open by 1990.

 I never really liked that use of the space very much, not that Trump makes it much more appealing.

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The Middle Eastern place actually made some good food. A basic but very solid falafel and the batatas harrar was very good - cubed potatoes deep fried then finished off in a pan with diced tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, chili pepper (maybe some cumin and/or coriander powder).

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Just had a nice dinner on Central's patio and we overlooked the forthcoming hotel. The big blue signs surrounding the building still promise a flagship Jose Andres restaurant.

That's why Trump is suing. He's spent money on built out and advertising. it would be even funnier if Trump is elected. In any case, claiming constructive eviction because Trump doesn't have favorable views of illegal immigrants is absurd.

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Hmmm.   Constructive Eviction.  I hope Jose trumps Trump in this situation.   Has another landlord seriously devalued the real estate in this way before?   Its like putting up a wall to a certain percentage of possible customers and makes it more difficult to hire employees.

I'd grant Jose a couple of years of 30 to 40% reduced rent...and every time Trump opens his mouth in that sort of way another year of free rent.  That would be favorable to Jose and every other tenant in a Trump property who could feel similar effects.

Its in the hands of the lawyers.

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Lol, Trump's lawyers are going to eat Jose's lunch. This probably won't survive summary judgment. Jose can't get a jury trial anyway.

Jose's lawyers will point out that Trumps actions had a material effect on the financials of the Old Post Office restaurant deal and that further association with Trump will cause financial and reputation harm to Andres and TFG.  There might even be a countersuit.

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Jose's lawyers will point out that Trumps actions had a material effect on the financials of the Old Post Office restaurant deal and that further association with Trump will cause financial and reputation harm to Andres and TFG.  There might even be a countersuit.

This constructive eviction is an untested theory, and maybe a sympathetic judge will rule in favor of Jose (no jury trial per the lease agreement), but I doubt it.  I expect some kind of settlement because fighting with Trump probably isn't good for business either.  I don't know how many Dems vs. Repulicans eat at Jose's restaurants, but I can't imagine it's just Dems.  The "crazies" can also vote with their pocket book.  Legal Analysis.

Shouldn't you have done your due diligence prior to signing the lease?  Trump didn't even break any laws.  I don't think you can breach a lease because your landlord turns out to be an axe murderer (unless the murder was commited on your premises).

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Curious what would happen if ThinkFoodGroup decided to get back into the deal, while at the same time talking trash about Trump non-stop, stopping short of slander, but still letting it fly to the point where it was damaging his political campaign. (That said, nobody outside of DC really cares about this.)

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This constructive eviction is an untested theory, and maybe a sympathetic judge will rule in favor of Jose (no jury trial per the lease agreement), but I doubt it.  I expect some kind of settlement because fighting with Trump probably isn't good for business either.  I don't know how many Dems vs. Repulicans eat at Jose's restaurants, but I can't imagine it's just Dems.  The "crazies" can also vote with their pocket book.  Legal Analysis.

Shouldn't you have done your due diligence prior to signing the lease?  Trump didn't even break any laws.  I don't think you can breach a lease because your landlord turns out to be an axe murderer (unless the murder was commited on your premises).

You can't do "due diligence" on an action that hasn't yet taken place.  Andres won't claim that it's Trump's politics that constituted a breach, but his statement and refusal to mitigate its effects. Trump significantly reduced the value of a partnership through a voluntary action.  I also assume that Andres' attorneys weighed in on this decision and that -- as principled as he is -- Andres looked seriously at the financial ramifications before making a move.  I'd also be wiling to bet that "the crazies" aren't a significant ThinkFoodGroup demographic.

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You know, as much as I wanted to love that place, the night a gang of us went there, few came away particular impressed.  Not that it was bad, mind you, just that is was unexceptional.

Oh well, always good to see a local place make good.

Maybe she can get a good deal at the Old Post Office Building.  I hear there's a vacancy.  ;)

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